It’s that time of year again; the leaves are beginning to turn gold, the sun is setting earlier, and summer crops are producing their final harvest. The end of the season also marks the end of local produce for some. Since berries don’t grow locally during the winter, we resort to buying fruits that have been grown and transported to your store from further away. It doesn’t have to be that way!
Preserving is a great way to store your fruits and vegetables. If you’ve never preserved before, we recommend that you start small; it can be a bit overwhelming. You can preserve pretty much anything you want, but we are focusing on berries.
This guide will help you preserve your own harvest so that you can save money, support your local farming community, and enjoy summer berries whenever you like! Here are 5 ways to enjoy the taste of summer in the middle of winter.
This is probably the easiest and quickest method in the list, and it’s the best way to preserve the fruits nutrients – a lot of the vitamins and nutrients in fruit are heat sensitive, and are lost when the berries are cooked.
First, spread your unwashed berries out evenly on a baking sheet and place it in the freezer – always freeze without washing to prevent the berries skins from becoming tough and rubbery. Freezing on a tray (before bagging) also helps to prevent the berries from sticking together and getting crushed. Once the berries on the cookie sheet are frozen, remove from the freezer and transfer them in to a large zip lock bag or a plastic container. When ready to use, remove your berries from the freezer and rinse before eating.
The canning method can be intimidating if you’ve never done it before, but it’s a lot easier than you think! High-acid foods, like berries in this case, are easy to can, because the high acid prevents food-borne danger like botulism. But other fruits and vegetables with low acid content are trickier, and need to be “pressure canned”, which includes special equipment. Always do your research and use canning recipes – don’t wing anything!
Dehydrating berries is another easy way to increase shelf life, while still keeping them whole. Just rinse, toss in a bit of honey (optional), and then spread them out evenly on a baking sheet and bake at 135 degrees for 10 hours. If you want to cut the time down a bit to 6 or 7 hours, bake them at 200 degrees instead. Make sure you are checking on them more often. Once they’re done, let them cool and then pack them in an airtight container and store in a cool, dark place. Dehydrating is perfect if you want to toss some in to your granola in the morning or need a quick, healthy snack on the go.
Making Fruit Leather
This is a bit of a process, but turning your berries into fruit leather makes for a fun treat. After cooking, pureeing, straining, cooking again, and then storing, fruit leather makes a fun snack that you can take with you anywhere. You can also roll it up in plastic and toss it in the freezer for later!
Baking Berries in to Dishes
This is the most versatile method of preserving your berries, because there are so many possibilities! Simple rinse your berries and find a recipe that you can add the berries to, then you can freeze your creation until you’re ready to eat it. Some delicious ideas are raspberry muffins, strawberry frozen yogurt, blueberry sauce for pancakes, and berry strudel. Whatever you choose, be sure that the recipe is appropriate for freezing. Get creative!
Earth Safe Products:
Buying local berries is always an awesome way to support your community, know where your produce is coming from and know your berries are fresh. You can always grow your own berries so you have full control over what you’re eating.
If you’re growing, use Earth Safe Fruits on your plants. This will help build soil biology and give the plant ingredients that aid in improving yield, flavour and life of the plant. You can use this from spring right through to fall. When winter rolls around, use Earth Safe Kelp Meal to help add minerals back in to the soil. Then when spring comes back around, use Earth Safe Kelp liquid to help improve the development of the fruit. Blueberries in specific will benefit from Earth Safe Fruits and Earth Safe Fish, which will give them the Nitrogen that they thrive on.