6 Easy-to-Preserve Edibles

You can preserve your garden's bounty without too much hassle.

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Photo By: Photo By Debbie Wolfe

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

No Canning Required

If the thought of spending hours in a hot kitchen preserving your harvest doesn't sound appealing, then you are in luck. Not all of your garden bounty needs to be processed via hot water bath in order for you to enjoy them over the winter. With a little washing and drying, it's a cinch to preserve several edibles.

Herbs: Drying

The quickest and easiest way to store herbs is by drying. Once you've gathered a bundle, give them a good rinse and dry. Secure the stems with a rubber band and hang to dry. Once dried, try mixing complementary herbs to create custom spice blends. Store the dried herbs in glass jars. You'll have an impressive spice collection in no time.

Herbs: Pesto

Use your excess herb harvest to make pesto. This Italian favorite isn't limited to basil and parsley. Add several different herbs together to create a one of a kind pesto mix. Once made, you can freeze it for later use.

Herbs: Salt

Combine chopped herbs, garlic and salt for a custom salt blend. The salt will preserve the herbs without the need to refrigerate. Once you've mixed the chopped herbs and garlic with the salt, spread it out on a cookie sheet and let it dry to the touch. Then, store in a glass jar. It's perfect on many types of meats and veggies.

Herb: Oil

Add flavor to any oil with a few sprigs of herbs and garlic. It's as simple as putting herbs and garlic cloves in a bottle and pouring oil over them. The oil will continue to intensify in flavor the longer it sits. Alternatively, you can chop herbs and put them in a ice cube tray with oil and freeze. Once frozen, pop out the herb/oil cubes and put them in a plastic baggie. The next time you need a couple of tablespoons of oil for a saute, grab an herb cube.

Berries: Frozen

Any type of berry takes well to freezing. Berries are picked at peak ripeness, and do not last long in the refrigerator. Give them a good rinse, then, thoroughly dry before you lay them on a cookie sheet. Pop them in the freezer for a few hours until frozen solid. Store frozen berries in a plastic zip bag.

Berries: Freezer Jam

Freezer jam is so simple to make, you'll soon have a whole icebox full! Sugar, pectin and berries are mixed to together and then packed in a freezer safe jar for storage. Once made, the freezer jam will last up to a year or more in the freezer.

Tomatoes: Frozen

Yes, you can freeze tomatoes! They will not be suitable for salads once defrosted, but they will be good for soups and sauces. There's no need to peel the tomatoes first. Just slice into chunks, and lay on a cookie sheet to freeze. Once frozen, place into a plastic zip bag or container to store in the freezer.

Tomatoes: Dried

Sun dried tomatoes have an intense, rich flavor. Meatier tomato varieties, like romas, dry better. Slice the tomatoes in half and lay on a screen or place in a dehydrator. Drying time will vary depending on the relative humidity.

Peppers: Dried or Frozen

All types of peppers (sweet or hot) take well to drying or freezing. You do not need to blanch or remove the skins. Just slice and freeze, or lay the pepper slices out on a screen to dry.

Onions and Garlic: Freezing

This is a true time saver. Slice or dice onions and garlic and freeze on a cookie sheet. Once frozen, store in a plastic zip bag. Now you have garlic and onions pre-chopped to throw into any recipes when needed.

Summer Squash: Frozen

Shred or chop summer squash and store directly in plastic zip bags. Summer squash contains a lot of water and it will freeze into a solid chunk, so portion it out into smaller bags if needed. The frozen squash can be used for breads and casseroles.

Enjoy Summer in the Winter

Spending a few minutes to preserve your summer's bounty will mean a welcome treat come the cold days of winter.