The Best Laid Plans

June 2023 - Nutrition

Preserve Your Harvest

Now that your garden is growing and local produce is at its peak, it’s time to think ahead to the harvest—especially if you plan to preserve your delicious seasonal edibles.
The Day Before

Spread the work out by getting organized the day before.

  • Harvest and wash your food.
  • Gather your supplies, including recipes and ingredients.
  • Pre-measure dry ingredients.
  • Set up your workspace: organize stations to cut and prepare foods, and to cool canned items.

Make a Schedule

Preserving can be time-consuming. Estimate when each fruit and veggie will be ready and put the time aside to harvest, prepare and preserve. Break activities into manageable chunks, and schedule them in your calendar:

  • Research techniques and recipes.
  • Decide which preserving methods you will use: canning, freezing, fermenting or drying. • Stock up on supplies, including herbs, spices and ingredients needed in your recipes.

Organize Freezer and Pantry

  • Take everything out and wipe down surfaces.
  • Throw out anything that has expired or looks dubious.
  • Use older items before you make more.

Preserving Primer

Always follow food-safety guidelines


Preserve food using high temperatures to destroy microorganisms and enzymes that cause food to spoil.

Best: fruits, jams, marmalades, pickles, salsa, sauerkraut Boiling water method (for highacidic foods):

  • Fill clean, sterilized jars with prepared food, leaving ¼” to ½” space at the top.
  • Clean the rims and put on lids. • Submerge in boiling water (times vary widely, depending on recipe).
  • Remove jars and place on a towel or rack to cool.
  • Listen for the ‘pop’ of the lid being pulled down to create an air-tight seal.
  • Cool to room temperature, tighten rings.
  • Label and store in a cool, dark place.


  1. Follow recipe directions exactly to ensure food safety.
  2. Use a funnel to fill the jars easily and with less mess.
  3. Once jars are cool, check that all jars have sealed properly. Any jars that haven’t should be placed in the fridge and used first.


An easy way to preserve flavour, colour and nutrition.

Best veggies: broccoli, corn, green beans
Best fruits: berries, grapes, melon, cherries, plums

  • Fruit: Wash and cut into evenly sized pieces. Arrange on a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  • Vegetables: Blanch then plunge into an ice bath. Dry thoroughly on a rack or tea towel, then transfer to a baking sheet.
  • Freeze at least four hours, until solid.
  • Store in a freezer-safe container or bag. Leave enough headspace for expansion and remove as much air as possible. Seal well and label, including the date.


  1. Use less plastic. Glass jars work well in the freezer.
  2. Use baskets, boxes or bags to store similar items together to make them easy to find.
  3. Keep a dated list on the door as a quick reference.


A process in which gut-friendly microorganisms break down and preserve food.

Best: Cabbage, carrots, beets, beans, cauliflower

  • Wash and cut food into even pieces.
  • Pack food into a clean container, and add salt or brine solution, leaving 1″ headspace.
  • Submerge completely in liquid using a weight. This creates an anaerobic environment to prevent oxidation and mold. Cover the container.
  • Keep out of direct sunlight, at a consistent temperature (ideally 70°F/18°C). Fermentation takes anywhere from a few days to several weeks, depending on the food and the temperature.
  • Start tasting after two days. When you like the flavour, remove the weight, cover tightly and keep in the fridge.


Preserve food by removing moisture so that mold, yeast and bacteria can’t grow.
Best: fruits, vegetables, herbs

  • Sun: A minimum temperature of 86°F for several days. Place items on a raised mesh screen to allow air to circulate. Cover with a second screen to deter insects.
  • Air: The same as sun drying except in the shade or indoors. Best for greens and herbs.
  • Oven: Set temperature to no more than 130°F. Prop the door open to let the moisture escape. •
  • Dehydrator: With adjustable temperatures and drying times, this method makes dehydration easy.

    Easy steps:
  • Choose ripe, bruise-free fruits and veggies.
  • Wash, destem, core or pit, and cut to even size and thickness (¼” to ½”).
  • Blanch vegetables that take longer to cook—like broccoli or carrots—to speed the process.
  • Place on racks, in a single layer, to maximize air circulation.
  • Pack loosely in air-tight containers and store in a dark place.


  1. Store in small, air-tight glass jars. Each time you open a jar, contents are exposed to air which affects quality over time. Small jars are better than large.
  2. Strip leaves off herb stems and keep as whole as possible to retain the most flavour until they are crumbled into your cooking.
  3. Dry one type of food at a time to avoid flavour transfer.
  4. Flip the food regularly and turn the trays to encourage even drying.

This article was published in The Good Life magazine.

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