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Conscious Living, Recipes

4 Easy Ways to Preserve Summer Produce

Disclaimer: The following information has not been approved by the FDA. This information should not be interpreted as medical advice and is not a substitute for a visit with a medical care professional. Always speak to your doctor about any health concerns. 

Summer in the Midwest is the sole reason we manage to survive the Winter each year. Summertime brings blue skies, rumbling storms, green grass, gorgeous breezes… and all the fresh garden and farmer’s market goodies you can imagine!

Our family has a garden and also a CSA share, so we have our work cut out for us when it comes to eating all the fresh produce that we find ourselves surrounded with. As someone who deeply appreciates the amazing taste and health benefits of fresh fruits and veggies, it absolutely drives me crazy when we are unable to eat all of our bounty. 

I don’t think I’m alone in this conundrum. Some people solve the problem by canning, and some people make jellies and jams and pickles. And, while there was a time in my life that I would have been one of them, I don’t realistically have the energy for any of that with our current busy schedule.

However, I am here today to bring you four EASY ways to preserve the sun-kissed produce of summer so you can keep a little brightness and a fresh burst of sunshine in your meals, all year round!

Tip 1. Chop summer fresh herbs and freeze them in oil. 

When someone suggested this to me, my mind was blown. Could it really be this simple? I felt there was nothing to lose! Dried herbs just can’t compare to the flavor of fresh! I experimented with this concept last summer and I’m happy to report that I enjoyed the fresh-herb taste all fall, winter, and spring with this simple trick. I use them in stews, stir-fries, and baking! Here’s how to do it.

  1. Gather and clean your herbs, then grab an ice cube tray. I chop up the herbs and then divide them into different blends I enjoy. For example, we love the flavors of basil and rosemary together. But you can divvy up the herbs however you want! I also make a blend to use for making pizza dough with oregano, rosemary, and thyme. 
  2. Place 1 tsp (total) of chopped herbs in each section of an ice cube tray. Add 2 tsp of cooking oil (I recommend avocado oil). 
  3. Carefully place the ice cube tray in the freezer and allow to freeze at least 12 hours. 
  4. Remove the herb-infused oil cubes from the ice cube tray and store them in a mason jar in your freezer. I recommend labeling the lids for easy use later on! These stay good for at least 9 months and can be used in any recipe that calls for oils and herbs.

Tip 2. Freeze summer grape tomatoes. 

Yes, freeze them whole! This trick might be my easiest suggestion of all. I always plant too many tomato plants. I can’t help it! I am greedy when it comes to warm, juicy grape tomatoes right off the vine! But inevitably I can’t keep up and some always go to waste. With this trick, they don’t have to! Here’s what to do:

  1. Gather a bowl full of fresh grape tomatoes. Wash and let dry completely. (This part is important.) 
  2. Fill quart mason jars with the tomatoes. Place in freezer. 
  3. You’re DONE! Now, when you want to eat these yummy little beauties later on, all you need to do is empty them into a colander and run hot water over them. The skins will slide off, and you can use these frozen summer tomatoes in any recipe that calls for a can of diced tomatoes! My favorite is to use them in soups and sauces! These tomatoes not only taste better than the canned version, they’re also healthier with zero preservatives or the worry of BPA linings on the cans!

Tip 3. Spiralize and freeze zucchini. 

Zucchini is the vegetable that just keeps on giving, am I right? So many zukes, so little time! We love using zucchini noodles in soup, and this is an easy way to make that happen year round with produce from your garden.

  1. Using a spiralizer, spiralize those zucchini! 
  2. Pat the spiralized zucchini dry.
  3. Place in quart Mason jars and freeze!
  4. When you want to use these in a recipe, just bring it out of the freezer the night before to let the zucchini thaw in the fridge. Then, use as you normally would. 

Tip 4. Dehydrate Summer Goodness. 

Pull out your dehydrator and get chopping and slicing! Some things I love to dehydrate are:

  1. Herbs! It’s true that I love freezing herbs for a fresh summer taste, but I also love to dehydrate herbs for teas and medicinal purposes over the winter. Dehydrated herbs also taste delicious in soups and stews!
  2. Tomatoes! Oh, how I love summer tomatoes. I will preserve them in every way I can. Dehydrated tomatoes are delicious on sandwiches, in soups, and can even be turned into sundried tomatoes (just add oil and spices!). They also look beautiful in my canning jars in the pantry.
  3. Fruit! Peaches, strawberries, blueberries, pears… literally any fruit you can think of makes a delicious dried treat. If you’re not into canning, this is such an easy way to enjoy summer fruit all year long.

So there you go, my three easy hacks for keeping the freshness of summer in your meals throughout the year!

Love,
Becki O’Brien


*Disclaimer: All information and recommendations given on this site, in email correspondence, newsletters or other materials provided by The Healthy Place is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice nor be viewed as a substitute for a face-to-face consultation with a healthcare provider. Consult a licensed healthcare practitioner before modifying, stopping, or starting the use of any medications, health programs, diets, and/or supplements, as well as regarding any health concerns you may have. Our statements and information have not been evaluated or approved by the Food and Drug Administration. As with any health-related program, product, or service, your risks and results may vary. We expressly disclaim responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or damage caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the information provided to you here.”


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