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Storing Summer Produce for a Rainy Winter Day

Beans are popping, tomatoes are starting to ripen, and zucchini is threatening to take over your neighborhood. The summer bounty is here!  Whether you’re growing your own, shopping at your local grocery store or farmers market, the variety of seasonal produce is hard to miss! 

This is a great time to save and store fruits and veggies for the dark days of January, when you could use a reminder of warm summer days. Here are a few ways to save a little summer for later, and store extra food you have all year long. 

Meet Your New Best Friend, Your Freezer

Freezing foods at the peak of freshness maintains that sweet incredible flavor, and it’s a pretty quick process. Freezing summer produce means you can enjoy it anytime, and even have something at the ready to add to your smoothie or stir fry. Our Freezer Storage Guide has all the details on how to put all kinds of foods on ice.   

Here’s a quick list of a few things to get you started: 

Quick Freeze – Herbs, some fruits, and even some vegetables can go straight from your counter top to the freezer without cooking. Quick and easy. 

Quick Cook – Most vegetables (like peas, green bean, and squash) require blanching, a quick dip in boiling water – then a dunk in an ice bath, to prevent them from spoiling. It also preserves texture, color, and nutrient content. One more step, but so worth it to have sweet, crisp green beans in February. 

Cook then Chill – Sauces, jams, and purees you cook up will keep in your freezer for a long time.  All those blackberries you’ve picked or splurged on are perfect for blackberry freezer jam.


Put a Lid on It – Canning 

Canning allows you to store foods without refrigeration or freezing.  While it is more involved than freezing, it is a great way to store a lot of food that could last you well into the winter.  You want to make sure you do this right for food safety, maximizing taste, and shelf life.  Never fear, there are a lot or resources to get you started and help you along the way. 

WSU Extension’s “You Can” Food Preservation virtual classes cover a range of topics from jams to fermented pickles to meat and jerky.  

Here is a great list of guides to all types of food preservation (including canning) compiled by WSU Extension. 

Check out Tilth Alliance for classes on canning and food preservation. 

Whichever method you choose for saving some of summer’s bounty now, it’s a great way to enjoy more variety all year long and save a little money while you’re at it. For more ways to make food last longer, check out Love Food Stop Waste