You worked hard all Summer to make sure your herb and vegetable gardens were thriving. Now that the season’s over, you’ve probably got a ton of fresh produce and don’t want it to go bad. Canning vegetables and preserving herbs are old skills that used to be commonplace and may seem harder than they are, if you’re up for a simple but rewarding challenge, then we’ve built the perfect guide for you.
Canning is an easy way to preserve fruits and vegetables. While it doesn’t work for everything, it’s the quickest way to make sure the peppers you grew in August don’t go to waste in December.
There are two primary methods of canning, boiling and pressure canning. The cheapest way to get started is with the boiling method, which is our preferred way to do it. In most cases, you can buy a boil-canning kit online. Or, you can use this list to get started:
- Canning jars with two-part lids—a flat lid with a rubberized gasket and a ring to hold it in place.
- A stock pot at least 3 inches taller than your jars
- Canning tongs for lifting jars out of the boiling water (Find them at the grocery or hardware store; don’t substitute regular kitchen tongs)
- Canning rack to raise jars off the bottom of the pot
- Wide-mouth funnel to make filling jars easy
- Bubble tool to release trapped air in the jars (substitute a plastic knife, chopstick or skewer)
Ready to get started?
Pickling is another great way to preserve veggies from your garden. Unlike canning, which requires a certain acidity level, you can pickle just about anything.
What you need:
- 1 pound fresh vegetables, such cucumbers, carrots, green beans, summer squash, cherry tomatoes
- 2 sprigs fresh herbs, such as thyme, dill, or rosemary
- 1 to 2 teaspoons whole spices, such black peppercorns, coriander, or mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon dried herbs or ground spices
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed or sliced
- 1 cup vinegar, such as white, apple cider, or rice
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt or 2 teaspoons pickling salt
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
What to do:
- Prepare the jars: Wash 2 wide-mouth pint jars, lids, and rings in warm soapy water and rinse well. Set aside to dry, or dry completely by hand.
- Prepare the vegetables: Wash and dry the vegetables. Peel carrots. Trim the end of beans. Cut vegetables into desired shapes and sizes.
- Add the flavorings: Divide the herbs, spices, or garlic you are using into the jars.
- Add the vegetables: Pack the vegetables into the jars, making sure there is a 1/2 inch of space from the rim of the jar to the tops of the vegetables. Pack them in as tightly as you can without smashing.
- Make the pickling liquid: Combine the vinegar, water, salt, and sugar (if using) in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Pour the brine over the vegetables, filling each jar to within 1/2 inch of the top. You might not use all the brine.
- Remove air bubbles: Gently tap the jars against the counter a few times to remove all the air bubbles. Top off with more pickling brine if necessary.
- Seal the jars: Place the lids over the jars and screw on the rings until tight.
- Cool and refrigerate: Let the jars cool to room temperature. Store the pickles in the refrigerator. The pickles will improve with flavor as they age — try to wait at least 48 hours before cracking them open.
- Storage: These pickles are not canned. They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. If you process and can the jars, they can be stored at room temperature unopened.
A summer herb garden can easily provide enough seasoning to last through the winter. With proper storage, you’ll be able to stretch your herbs and spare your budget. Whether you dry your herbs or dehydrate them depends on what they are, but we found the best method for each.
Sturdy, low moisture herbs like rosemary, thyme, dill, savory, sage, and parsley are best when dried. Check out how to dry herbs here:
Herbs with big leaves and higher moisture content like bay leaf, basil, lemon balm, lovage, mint, lemon verbena and tarragon are best when dehydrated.
What to do:
- Strip the best leaves from the stems and lay them in a single layer on the drying rack.
- Turn during the first few days and after about a week, when the leaves are completely dry, remove them and store in tightly closed containers for later use.
Sweet Potato Jerky
If you hunt or fish, this simple jerky recipe will give you a gourmet twist on the typically salty snack. Take your leftover cuts, whole sides of fish, or anything else you may have harvested and make it last for a few months with this delicious recipe.
What you need:
- 2 ½ lbs brisket, venison, salmon, flat trimmed
- 1 cup onion, chopped
- 1 cup sweet potato, peeled and chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, grated
- 5 habanero peppers
- 4 oz beer
- ½ cup salad oil
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup white sugar
- ¼ cup cider vinegar
- 3 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground dry ginger
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp turmeric
What to do:
- Cut onion and sweet potato in 1 inch pieces and process in food processor until finely chopped, but not so far to puree.
- Add oil in hot large sauce pot and sweat the onion, sweet potato, and habanero.
- Add cinnamon, turmeric, ground dry ginger, salt, sugar, garlic, and beer. Cook until vegetables are tender.
- Add cider vinegar and set aside to cool.
- Slice beef slightly against the grain about a quarter and an inch thick. With the grain, it can be chewy and against the grain the jerky can be brittle and fall apart.
- Add beef to marinade for 4 to 6 hours in the fridge
- Place in dehydrator or in oven at 170 degrees Fahrenheit for 3 to 4 hours, or until the beef is fully dried.
- Cool and store in tightly sealed Mason jar or freezer bag.
Pickled, canned, dried or jerky-fied, there’s nothing as satisfying as eating something that was harvested by you. Prep now for the winter ahead and enjoy the fresh flavors of your garden all year long.