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Preserving your harvest: Freeze, can or pickle?
By Adria Afferino

Did you know it is easy to preserve all the wonderful fruits, veggies and herbs from summer for use all year long? Now that we’re entering spring, now is the time to start planning!

Preserving Fruits

Do you already buy whole frozen fruit for smoothies and yogurt? An alternative to store bought frozen items is to pick locally in season, freeze on cookies trays until solid and then repack in your favorite freezer container. Another age-old preservation practice is canning. Fresh, local fruits are wonderful when canned as jellies, jams, preserves or liquid “syrup.” Most fruits are high in acid and can be processed in a water bath. When prepared correctly water baths prevents spoiling and kills any bad bacteria that may be on the jar and lid, while sealing to prevent air or contaminants from entering during storage.

For a kid-friendly snack, try drying fruit pieces or making a sundried fruit leather by first blending in a food processor. To firm the leather we recommend sun drying, using a dehydrator or a low temperature oven at about 125 degrees until firm.

Preserving & Pickling Vegetables

Most vegetables are low in acid and require the use of a pressure canner to properly seal in order to safely prevent botulism. Tomatoes are the exception (yes, they are technically a fruit) as they are acidic enough to be canned in a water bath. The Greenery's certified preserving expert, Adria Afferino, makes all of her own tomato-based sauces for pasta, lasagna, pizza and more. One trick Afferino recommends is to freeze the tomatoes whole or skinned, especially if you’re in a time crunch since frozen tomatoes turn to mush once thawed. She also recommends not using low acid or specialty colored tomatoes, as they aren’t always acidic enough for preservation.
Pickling has made a comeback thanks to the zingy taste, easy preparation and easy storage. When it comes to pickling think outside the cucumber. The Greenery recommends pickling jalapeno slices, whole okra, beans and more. It is also a great way to encourage kids to eat a veggie they may not like otherwise.

For additional tips, visit the National Center for Home Preservation website, your local UCCE Master Food Preservers, the Ball Blue Book or Ball Complete Book of Home Canning or please join us at the Greenery Nursery for one of our upcoming seminars: Using & Preserving Herbs on April 25, Preserving Berries in Season on May 16; Growing or Preserving Safely on June 16. Reservations are required, and accepted online or via phone.
— The Greenery Nursery and Garden Shop is the premiere nursery centered in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley. Headquartered in downtown Turlock, the Greenery is locally owned and operated while featuring a large selection of quality plants, shrubs, flowers and trees. Additionally, the gift shop and recently added Gourmet Pantry is a local favorite for gift shopping. The Greenery staff has expert experience in landscape design and horticulture and hosts over 40 seminars annually featuring topics such as gardening, cooking, preserving and home décor.