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My top tips for preventing overwhelm on a busy preservation day! It’s easy to see the harvest come in and quickly get overwhelmed at how much preservation has to happen. With these six tips, you can remain calm, stay upbeat and get through the day with joy.

A woman standing behind a counter full of produce waiting to be preserved.

There are many things I do to prepare for preserving season throughout the year. You can see my Preserving Year-At-A-Glance here, how to find preservation tools on a budget here, how we prep our pantry for the preserving season here, how to take inventory of your canning supplies here, and how we store all of our preserved foods here. But what do I do to prepare for a busy preserving day? Keep reading for all my best tips!

Tip #1 – Get Dinner Started Early

Plan dinner ahead of time and, if possible, get it cooking first thing in the morning. Make it something that’s no-fuss and requires very few dishes at the end of the day.

For us, this often looks like a roast that I’ll slow-cook in the crockpot. A few hours before dinner I’ll toss in some new potatoes and we’ll have some veggies on the side. Everyone will love this meal after a long day of work.

A woman adding fresh potatoes, carrots and cabbage to a crockpot with a corned beef brisket.

Tip #2 – Start with a Clean Kitchen

You don’t want to have to clean the kitchen before you can even begin preserving the harvest. It’s always best if you can jump right in! So do yourself a favor and, the night before, get that kitchen nice and tidy.

If you didn’t clean your kitchen the night before, clean it up before heading out to the garden to harvest, or before you head to the Farmer’s Market to grab your produce.

BONUS TIP – Clean as you go! As you’re preserving, be sure to clean up as you go! This can either be done by you, a spouse, or a child, but you’ll be much more productive if the kitchen stays as clean as possible as you move from project to project.

Two girls harvesting beans.

Tip #3 – Pick First Thing in the Morning

Get out to the garden or to the Farmer’s Market as early as you can. The reason for this is that the sugars are going to be at their height in your fruit and vegetables first thing in the morning.

You want to be picking your produce at their sweetest and their best, then bringing them into the house and keeping them cool so they don’t start wilting before you have a chance to preserve them.

This is especially true of cucumbers! So start with your homemade pickles first!

A woman putting the insulation cover onto a Harvest Right freezer dryer.

Tip #4 – Utilize Everything in the Kitchen

When you’re working with a lot of produce, be sure you’re utilizing all of your appliances, all the preservation methods, and all the people available in your home.

Get that food processor, blender, mixer, dehydrator, and freeze dryer working for you. Put all the extra hands to work harvesting, washing, cleaning, and tidying up behind you.

Two small children picking apples off the ground and putting them into a wooden crate.

Tip #5 – Include Your Children

This goes along with tip #4… be sure to get your children involved, it’s so great for them! There is something kids of all ages can help with. They can pick up fruit off the ground, clean up spills, fetch jars, snap beans, or slice veggies.

If they’re older, teach them how to preserve, how to use the pressure canner or water bath canner. Get them stirring or blending the fruit puree for homemade fruit leather. If nothing else, make sure there’s always someone washing dishes to help keep an empty sink.

A pantry with shelves lined with home canned food.

Tip #6 – Remember Why You’re Doing This

It’s easy to get overwhelmed on a busy preservation day and to lose sight of why you’re doing this. But try to remember how thankful you’ll be when your pantry shelves are lined with healthy home-grown and home-preserved food.

Put on some great music and remember to have fun! Maybe even do some dancing, get your kids laughing, and enjoy your day together. If you’re having fun it will make your work go a lot faster and your day much more enjoyable.

Now go ahead and start building up those food stores for winter!

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It is our goal to encourage you in the path to a more healthy, more secure and free lifestyle by sharing and teaching the skills that lead to greater sustainability and self-sufficiency for you, your loved ones and your community.

– Carolyn and Josh 


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Learn how to turn a modern kitchen into a homestead kitchen, filled with great fresh, seasonal and beautifully preserved foods.