The taste of summer is too good to waste.
As the warm summer weather gives way to fall, this also means that an even sadder event is about to occur… The local farmers at the wonderful urban farmers’ markets are packing up their wares and leaving the city until spring.
This means no more juicy peaches or ripe tomatoes, no more sweet corn or flavourful cucumbers. City-dwellers can say farewell to those lazy weekend mornings browsing for the freshest locally-grown produce.
But instead of going back to imported produce from the local super market, why not try preserving the last big haul from the farmer's market? After all, supermarket produce increases humanity’s carbon footprint by travelling thousands of miles just to be subpar in taste and quality when compared to locally-grown goods.
So how does one preserve the best summer produce so that they can enjoy it through the long, cold winter months?
The summer berries picked at the end of the season are always the best. They take their sweet time to ripen over the warmer months, so they have the sweetest taste. Instead of rushing in and baking them into pies, reserve the last berries of summer for jams.
Jam-making is not exactly the advanced chemistry that people think it is. In fact, it is downright simple and kits may even be available at your local farmer's market. Creating jams and preserves provides a way to enjoy the sweetest berries not for a moment – as in a pie – but all winter long.
For vegetables, pickling is a good option. While those fresh cucumbers soaking in brine with a few sprigs of dill make for a fine winter snack, pickling isn't just exclusive to the art of making pickles. Try preserving spicy peppers, onions, or hearty beets in brine for use in salads or stews.
However, one of the best options for preserving the last haul of those summer market goodies is to freeze them. You can freeze just about any kind of vegetables, except for things that are best eaten uncooked, like lettuce.
To preserve the vegetables’ flavours and minerals, clean and boil them first before blanching them in ice water to preserve the color. Cut them to a desired size before placing them in a freezing bag. Be sure to try and remove as much air as possible before placing in the freezer, as this will prevent freezer burn.
Keeping your locally-grown food has a positive impact on the planet. While you may long for spring during the colder months, by preserving your farmers’ market goods, organic food-nuts will not want for anything fresh during the winter months.