If your garden is overflowing with tomatoes, zucchini and other vegetables, it’s time to start preserving your bounty. Canning and freezing can keep you stocked all winter with healthy produce that has no chemical preservatives or colorings.
Freezing takes less time and fewer ingredients than canning, according to frugal living website Living on a Dime, which adds that another benefit of freezing is that you can take some of your frozen fruits out later on to make jams and jellies. Canning, however, doesn’t require lots of freezer space, and canning jars can be reused from year to year.
Canning involves hot water bath or a pressure cooker. Acidic foods like strawberries and tomatoes use the hot water method, while low-acid foods like beets and asparagus require a pressure cooker. Different recipes vary, but all require that you sterilize your jars in boiling water, prepare your food, then fill your jars, leaving headspace at the top, notes online consumer community Earth911. Headspace is the room you leave between the food and the lid. For freezing in jars the headspace should be 1”, in containers is 2”. Drop lids in boiling water, place on each jar, screw on the rings, then process according to the recipe. Remove the jars with your jar lifter, special tongs for this, and cool for 24 hours. Cover your jars with a towel while they cool for the 24 hours so that they cool slowly and a cold draft or breeze does not cause the glass to brake. You should hear the lids pop as they cool, signalling a successful canning job. They’re sealed properly if the lids don’t push down when pressed. Label with contents and date. Canned produce should last a year, adds Earth911.
If freezing your bounty, fill your freezer container, again, leaving headspace, If freezing whole berries, spread on a cookie sheet, freeze, then store in freezer bags or containers. If freezing vegetables, blanch first, drop in an ice bath, then dry thoroughly and place in a freezer bag or container. Frozen food lasts from 3 months to a year, depending on the food.