It takes careful thought, planning, sourcing of supplies, scheduling your calendar wisely, keeping your pantry organized, and knowing how to properly store and build up your long-term food storage supply.
In this post I’ll be breaking down a typical calendar year, sharing the foods I’m preserving. This may look slightly different depending on which region you live in.
We’re in the far north of Idaho, so if you’re not sure when asparagus is typically ready for harvest in your area, then ask around to neighbors and friends who garden.
- Your harvest windows may be very different than mine, so refer to the season rather than the month to get the most from this blog post.
- Most people are happy to share the bounty of an apple tree in exchange for a few jars of applesauce. Offer preserved foods in exchange for raw materials (unsprayed).
- Save beans (dry beans) for canning in the off-season when you’re less busy with garden produce.
- Wait to preserve meals in jars until the garden is finished for the season.
Prepare for the upcoming canning season! You can never prepare too far ahead of time when it comes to canning season.
Tip: If you have a dial gauge canner, get the gauge calibrated before canning season starts at your local University Extension office. Be sure to know these other common canning mistakes to be sure you avoid making them.
Tip: Use up stored produce…winter squash, potatoes, onions, and garlic. If you started plants indoors, be sure you know when and how to transplant them into the garden for the best success.
- Rhubarb – freeze, jam, pie
- Strawberries – jam, syrup, pie
- Peas – can, freeze
- Baby beets – pickle
- Greens – dry and make homemade Super Greens Powder
- Flowers/herbs – dandelion jelly, wine; elder-flower tea, tincture, champagne
Tip: Ferment just enough early cabbage into sauerkraut to get you by until fall cabbages are ready.
- Berries – jams, jellies, syrups
- Cherries – jam, syrup, canned pie filling, canned in apple cider
- Beets, carrots, early cabbage – summer ferments, pickled beets, ginger carrots
- Summer squash – pickles, shredded and frozen or dehydrated for bread, soups
- Tender herbs – (basil, mint, cilantro, parsley) mince and freeze in ice cube trays covered with olive oil or lemon/lime juice; herb salts
- Cucumbers – quick and fermented pickles (kosher dills)
- Green beans – pickle, pickled pizza beans; pressure can raw pack
- Early onions, garlic – cure and store, dehydrate for spice powders
- Potatoes and corn – enjoy new potatoes and early corn as a special treat!
- Medicinal herbs – make tinctures, infused oils, salves
- Fruit – canned, canned pie filling; fruit liqueurs
Tips: Prepare for root veggie storage if your area has hard winter freezes. Can sweet cider to use as syrup for canning fruit.
- Early apples – applesauce, apple butter, sweet cider for canning fruit
- Stone fruit – canned singly, as juice, jam, syrup, or canned pie filling; dehydrate slices or halves, make fruit leather; fruit wine
- Pressure can Veggie Stew
- Tomatoes, peppers, and tomatillos – can salsa, salsa verde chicken, marinara sauce, tomato soup, fermented tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, canned tomato soup
- Corn – pressure canned
- Early winter squash – cure first to develop sweetness before eating or preserving
- Cabbage – sauerkraut
- Root vegetables – store in damp sand in root cellar (real or make-shift)
Tip: Harvest the last of the garden veggies and herbs.
Tips: Manage your stores to use things up before they spoil.
- Make convenience meals
- Pressure can broth
- Cure meat – bacon, ham, sausage
- Make specialty food gifts – pear preserves, crabapple butter, stews and soups for comfort meals
In season: Gift-giving, time with family, and time off from preserving food. Enjoy your well-earned break!
Tip: Manage your stores and use up odd bits of food from pantry and freezer to make space for next season.
- Finish rendering lard and tallow, make soap and candles
- Make a year’s worth of household cleaning products, personal and skin care products
Tip: Just do the next thing! This is also a great time to start gearing up for gardening season. Getting starts started indoors. Spring planning for your garden. Cleaning out the garden and amending your soil (if you can get to it yet!).
- Eggs – see preserving methods listed in February
- Dairy – start making homemade butter and cheese to freeze
- Pressure can more convenience meals, beans, and broth
And that wraps up your preserving year! This list just barely scratches the surface of what a gardening year might look like, but we did try to sprinkle in the main steps.
We hope this list is helpful in planning out your preserving year so you can stock those shelves and be more self-sufficient in the years to come.