Jams and Preserves
Done the old fashioned way in a big copper pot with organic sugar all my jams and preserves are pectin-free. This results in a looser ("soft set") product. It's still great on toast and sandwiches, but it's much easier than traditional thick set jams to use on pancakes, as an ice cream topping, or to flavor tea and soda water. Jams and preserves can be done in jars as small as 4 ounces to as large as a pint and orders are done either by the recipe (yeilding between 4 and 9 jars of product) or by the case (a full twelve jars of any size.)
Welcome to the savory side of food in jars! Known mostly as "what-you-do-when-the-cucumbers-take-over," pickling is actually so much more! Pickled carrots, beans, beets and peppers and other veggies make the best accompaniments to many meals. I find the crispest pickles are refrigerator pickles, which means they will have to be stored in the fridge. But for those looking to share the harvest without the burden of refrigeration, canning is an option.
Tomatoes, peaches, pie fillings, sauces...it's canning at it's most basic and often most versatile. One jar of diced tomatoes, for example can be a soup, a sauce, a meatloaf...anything you need it to be. And because it's home canned, it will taste like it should. You can can anything. But I don't. I find that there are really only a few things that should be canned. Most vegetables do NOT fall into this category because the amount of heat and pressure required to store it safely strips the produce of taste and nutrients. So be it whole, halved or diced (pie fillings and sauces notwithstanding) there are really only a few things I'll can. Tomatoes, peaches, mandarin orange segments, apricots and pears in sizes from one-half pint to quart. For everything else, there's freezing and dehydration.
Some things are just better frozen. Beans, corn and whole berries in particular should never see the inside of a can or jar, nor should they be boiled under pressure for thirty minutes. Think about it. You'd never take those beautiful beans from your garden then throw them in a pot of 242 degree water and boil them for 25 minutes would you?! But that's exactly what you're doing when you can them. So I don't. I trim the ends, blanch them for 30 seconds, dry them thoroughly, then individually freeze them before vacuum sealing them in BPA free bags.
Before there was canning, there was drying. Rubbed in salt and hung from trees it is the original way of "putting up the harvest." Today we don't need all the salt, just the time. Dried veggies and herbs make great bases for quick winter (or anytime) soups and slow cooker meals. Dried fruits make great snacks and treats either as is, or mixed into muffins or quick breads. Dried produce is packed with a small silica packet in vacuum sealed, BPA-free bags or in jars for gift giving.