Super Easy Food Preserving
I’m super excited this morning because today’s featured guest is the most downloaded guest of all time. Here to share with us more of her amazing knowledge from the Creative Vegetable Gardener is Megan Cain!
Welcome back Megan! I spoke with Megan in episode 44 & then again on episode 70 (Make Your Garden Harvest Last All Year Long, episode 115, and in Feb we did a bonus episode about her Smart Start Planning Guide in Feb!)
I reached out to her because Mike has been so busy down with the mini farm! He has already canned:
- 51 pints of beans
- 12 pints of pickled beets
- 9 pints of carrots
- 14 1/2 pints of Oregon grape jelly
and when he was making the grape jelly he was going thru Megan’s book and kept coming up to me saying did you see this? Did you know this? Haven’t you been asking me about this?
And so I asked Megan if she wanted to come back and talk with us again about her amazing book Super Easy Food Preserving Quick Techniques for Fresh, Fridge and Freezer Storage. Some of my favorite features in the book is she has a great worksheet right off the bat where you start strategically thinking about your garden needs. I always love worksheets and checklists! And it’s full of questions I wouldn’t think of necessarily like
- “What foods do I want to eat out of season?
- What tastes better when I eat them during the local growing season?”
Sounds like Mike’s been busy!
2017 Garden Challenges
Yes, but we’ve been having so many challenges this year!
- Bugs and insects
- Drought – no rain since June
- Predators – Skunks or something got the duck and one of our cats
I do a lot of food preserving. I lived on a farm and we did a lot of preserving. And mostly we did canning. We moved to Wisconsin. Then we moved here I had a garden, I thought that’s how I preserve food, I did a lot of canning, but I didn’t really like it!
There’s got to be some easier ways to preserve food then canning
I did research and so I talked to people and started to piece together quicker and easier ways to preserve food then canning!
I started to tell friends and neighbors I saw that was a common belief. When people think about canning! That’s what my book explores.
If you like canning you should continue to do it!
But for people who don’t have time for canning
- need equipment
- easier ways
- don’t need special equipment!
We do have one or two days to can salsa because I haven’t found a good substitute. We do a little bit of canning, it’s hard to fit it in and we kind of dread it but we do it because we love having salsa
So the first thing I ask is “Can I store the vegetable fresh?”
I dry it in my garage. Once it’s dry I put it in boxes in my basement. Then we eat our own garlic all year round! I don’t have to can it or freeze it or antyhing!
- dry it
- stick it in my basement
That’s a good example of something you can store fresh!
The next category is the
So if I can’t store it fresh I say, “Can I store it in the fridge?”
Beets and carrots store for a long time in your fridge!
I usually grow fall beets and carrots!
I leave them in the garden as long as natural in Wisconsin.
Before it gets too cold and the ground:
- snap off tops
- pack in plastic bags
- shove them in the bottom and back of fridge
they last in April, May, and June of the next year!
people like canned picked beets
When you store things in the fridge you can decide later
things you can freeze,
i have a chest freezer
that’s the biggest category
some things you can freeze raw
I just harvested a lot of red and yellow peppers from my garden!
We’ll eat some fresh! I’m just gonna
- take out the seeds
- chop them up
- put them in freezer bags
- and throw them in the freezer
We use them all winter longs in all kinds of
- stir fry
- egg dishes
There’s a few things you have to do a bit of pre-processing a few things you need to do!
broccoli would be a good example
Usually what you want to do is
- steam it
- flash boil it
just until it’s bright green!
Don’t want to over cook it, want it kind of al dente just till it’s bright bright green!
take it put it in our fill our sink with water and ice! Dump it in to stop it cooking!
That’s what he told me. Like before the squirrels, I froze a lot of swiss chard and some broccoli. If I had more room I’d freeze more chard, and we want to get a chest freezer. I like to freeze swiss chard because my spinach was gone. He came to show me the pepper tip but I did know that only because you told me!
Peppers are one of my favorite things to freeze!
I don’t like green peppers as much as they are basically unripe peppers
as many of my peppers to turn red or orange or yellow!
We freeze them because they can be expensive!
think about how most of us cook in the winter. We cook a lot of stuff.
- different kinds like that
I think it’s fine to throw frozen things into food that’s going to go in the oven and get roasted or turned into the soup.
For me it’s easier, I’m always throwing frozen brocolli that’s already cooked ahead of time. It’s something to throw in there.
NO MORE PREP
It saves money in the long run it’s more efficient in the long run! I was saying in a class I taught a couple of weeks ago, I was saying last year I went to the farmer’s market in sept
I bought a huge bag of broccoli for 12$
- froze it all
- almost all the broccoli we needed for the winter!
- pre-processed it
- steamed it
- froze it
Then we have we have as much broccoli we need for the whole winter!
The other option is you
- go to the grocery store every two weeks
- you buy some broccoli
- it sits in your fridge
- you chop it up.
We did it all at once!
We never have to buy broccoli it’s ready to go!
we’re cooking in winter and all we are doing is reaching in a bag
- getting some broccoli
- getting peppers
A lot of the prep work is already done. It makes winter cooking easier.
The other tip you taught me was putting things on the cookie tray and Mike said do you know this and I said yes because Megan taught me!
I learned that the first time I had frozen corn
- took it off the cob
- shoved it all in the bag
- frozen in the huge block that I had to chisel corn off of!
So I learned
- blueberries – depending on how wet
peppers are pretty dry so we just throw them in the bag. Anything that has the potential to be wet just spread it on the cookie sheet.
For us it depends on how ripe they are in the beginning of the season as compared to the end where they’re stickier and juicier. Like Huckleberries will get all stuck.
a lot of jalapeños
My husband chopped them up and he put them in separate bags. That was the first time we froze hot peppers.
A lot of times when you make a recipe it just asks for a jalapeño or half of a jalapeño
didn’t have jalapeño so I’d just skip it. So having them already chopped I could just throw a handful in! If you don’t grow jalapeños. They are so cheap to buy things I don’t grow
things I don’t have room for
great prices around here at the farmer’s market.
tomatoes for $1 a pound! I was thinking I should preserve some of this food! the prices are so amazing! It hit me like a bolt of lighting! And I was like yeah!
I could just buy food for the farmer’s market for preserving!
I always thought I would preserve food I grew. I only looked through it thorough that frame. I can just come to the farmer’s market and buy broccoli to freeze
Since I am into easy food preserving sometimes the easiest option is to not grow it and just buy it!
Sometimes no matter where you live especially in Wisconsin
- height of the harvest
- summer things and a lot of fall things
- most variety of food
- prices are pretty low
- you can go and get large quantities of things for not that much money!
Then you could do some preserving
be fun to chop peppers but I don’t have any. Then go to the farmer’s market and see if you can get some bulk deals!
Then just chop up some peppers and freeze them! The next year can plan to grow some if you like it!
I love the way your book goes through
- favorite varieties
- how long it lasts in storage
- favorite recipes
It’s just like you, strategically designed
It is kind of a cookbook layout. If you have a bunch of peppers you can turn to the pepper page and see what I recommend for doing for peppers
once you preserve food then
learning how to cook with the food preserve and recipes
I collected my favorite things in. I share some of those in the book! There’s actually a print book and e-book!
In the e-book there’s live links so if I talk about the recipe you just click and it takes you to the recipe. Some of the recipes are my own and my favorite food blogs. That’s really part 2 of food preserving. It takes some practice
something you want to shoot for recommended with preserved food you eat it within a year!
focus on that food and how to use it up
We joke we’re going grocery shopping in our basement
using things from the freezer and the fridge
AT our house we rarely buy produce in the winter. We buy some
lemons or limes
maybe some cilantro
pretty much bypass the produce aisle
bulk food things like that
It’s a great way to save money in the winter as well
unless you live in California
Because lots of our food is coming from
- New Zealand
prices are pretty
That’s also a great way to buy local!
We feel pretty passionately about eating locally as much as possible in a cold weather area
farmer’s market is pretty good til about after Christmas after that it’s hard for the market to still have fresh food
eating locally fits in really well and then also flavor!
People who shop at the farmer’s market know that things coming out of our garden tastes so much better when it comes out of the grocery store!
The sauce is so amazing!!! Way better then anything you can get at the grocery store! So sweet even thought it’s been frozen or canned!
Even the taste
things are frozen or stored for a few months, I find that they still taste better then anything we still get from the grocery store.
Those are the reasons that food preserving is awesome!
In the winter, tomatoes from the store just don’t cut it, I put Mike’s pickled beets on my salads. And it’s a little different flavor and Mike has the same goal as you, to grow as much of our own produce each year. That’s why 51 pints 52 would be one a week all year.
Sometimes we eat more then that, he usually makes Vegetable soup on Friday nights. This year he had a huge tomato harvest, and we had a vole! He saw it. Run from the potatoes to the corn. We think it’s a vole, it’s underground eating the bottoms of the potatoes. He grew those golden beets for the first time this year!
How many bites to get to the middle of a golden beet?
Yeah I put a little challenge out ot readers. To think about 1-2 vegetables or fruits you could grow for the whole year. Sounds like Mike’s on the same path. I think how many things can I grow enough of so that I don’t have to buy them for a whole year?
I think an easy one. Depending on how big the garden is. Garlic would be an easy one.
You plant garlic in the fall! so there’s still time this year. At the beginning of november and then harvest the next July! We grow enough that we don’t have to buy.
Mike grew some of our own garlic this year!
We store in our basement
in the grocery store, in the US, there’s only one or two varieties. Everything in the grocery store is just 1-2 varieties. If you look in the seed catalog
beautiful purple varieties
Pesto would be an easy one.
We eat pesto on everything!
- egg sandwiches
freeze pesto in jars so you wouldn’t have to buy pesto for the year.
i think tomatoes is another good one
We don’t buy them outside of the season because they taste terrible
We freeze a lot to make the sauce later
bigger yogurt containers
We use those for any recipe that calls for
- chopped canned tomatoes
- diced tomaotes
- whole tomatoes
anything that calls for tomatoes product
use it to put some garlic and onions in a pan and add those and make sauce for pasta
definitely feasible to put away enough tomato product to put enough away for the year!
And that would be a good one to buy from the farmer’s market because we’re having a bad tomato year between the deer and the drought…
My husband did that last Saturday morning
tomatoes as much as we wanted to.
They were $1.50 /lb for organic tomatoes from local farms
bought a small medium size
I used to grow 38 tomatoes pants so we would have enough but over time I realized it would be better to buy the tomatoes when I need extra for canning and processing
I live in the city. I have a big garden but I definitely have limited space!
I have decided that over time I realized instead of growing 38 tomatoes plants
spend $30 on tomatoes throughout the season for freezing or canning salsa.
What’s that compared to what you’re gonna spend and what you’re gonna taste!
grocery store salsa
Tell listeners about your website if you’re new. I just started getting posted on Progressive Radio Network in NYC and so there’s some new listeners out there. Tell them about your book and blog etc.
Sure, so folks can find me at
people can also sign up for my email list. I also have a link in the next couple of sundays will be about food preserving.
link in the next newsletter
how easy food preserving can be
on the website
Easy Super Food Preserving master class
filmed a whole bunch of videos
walking you through things to think about and tips
specific videos showing
- how I freeze kale
- store carrots and beets for the winter.
So if you want more guidance
Then I have another book all about garden planning
a little bit of planning
don’t plan out where everything is going
Over the years I realized the most successful gardeners some kind of plan before the season starts
- know where things are gonna go
- ordered their seeds
- different types of vegetables
- thought about what is worth growing
- folks can find that on my website
sign up by the year
month by month
We just finished up how to plant a fall garden. I film a lot of videos
What you can plant for fall.
making your own calendar
when you plant things in your own garden
community learning challenges together and there’s a big video library
different instructional videos
- food preserving
- seed starting
- how to grow vegetables
- how to make your garden more beautiful
It’s becoming a stocked library.
Megan’s website gorgeous, her blog is informative. I get her newsletter and open it right way. She’s always dropping value bombs! And I always say if you like her book give her a review and I say this for others because I just found this awesome teaching podcast and I’ve been like where have you been all my life and why don’t her listeners leave more reviews! I know other people want to know about Megan’s book so if you like it leave a review and help other’s find it.
It’s fun to hear what other people like about it. It’s fun to hear what people liked and what they’ve used it for and how they preserved some food this year.
Tell us about something that grew well this year.
Just took out one of my last plantings of beans. We’re leaving on vacation tomorrow. So I’m probably doing my last planting for the year except garlic.
spinach and salad mix
what went well
Last year I harvested out of my garden 11 months out of twelve!
January is the only month I didn’t harvest. I have been experiementing with season extension!
I had really great spring garden!
Tons of spinach!
late winter early spring planting
lots of radishes and turnips and all the good spring stuff
I actually got a bacterial infection
- 35 pepper plants
- started them all from seed
- took care of them
- ended up pulling them up
still have about 15 so I still harvested a lot of peppers but not as many as I usually have.
Where do you get a bacterial infection?
It could have come in on a seed and spread to the peppers. I had a bunch in 2 beds but I had some in another bed in a different location that didn’t get it.
We had a
- pretty wet spring
- cool conditions
- losing all their leaves
- afraid it was gonna spread
That’s like Mike’s brocoli, they are giant heads! And they take like 2 bites and run away!
We have had a really cool summer! We had a little jacket today. Still had shorts on
tomatoes not as big as they usually are
complaining about my summer garden, I had such a great start. Summer was ok
- not the great peppers
I’m really big into fall gardening so I planted a ton of stuff for fall
purple and white and yellow ones!
My beets did really we’ll!
Lots of stuff coming on for fall
- salad mix and spinach today
I’m gonna redeem myself with my fall garden and hopefully harvesting through till Christmas.
potentionally through to christimas
some of those things
beets and carrots
uncovered until dec 5th
got a small fall harvest carrots in Dec 5th
really depends what it is
carrots and beets can survive I had them uncovered! But I don’t want the ground to freeze
I think my neighbors are like are you crazy!
I think they’re jealous!
You don’t want the frond to freeze or they turn to mush. I take them out before the ground freezes it turns to much
I do have a cold frame and I do build some low tunnels with
lot of things can survive after the frost into the 20s low 20s into the teens lot of things don’t survive. Some things I cover the things with some greenhouse plastic
Fall Gardening Tips and Tricks
- The trick with fall gardening is plant growth basically stops when you get less then 10 hours of light a day. Things are not growing but you’re basically trying to keep things alive to continue harvest
- we could do a show on it
- takes a bit of experimenting
- online class
- extend your harvest – plant your fall garden
- Videos on how to build my low tunnels
- little update video each month to show people what I still have in my garden
- come back and we can talk about season extension
You can do it end of the winter and start harvesting things much earlier really fun for people living in colder areas like we do so you feel like your getting even more out of your garden in those shoulder months like Nov and March usually not a lot of things going on.
I planted a small fall garden but it needs water! I also think maybe listeners are not in the north where we are , maybe they;re in the south and it’s too hot in the summer and need to plan a fall garden too!
We lost a lot of plants because of cold winters. Some options. Spinach
Mike had a lot of volunteers that came out of the compost!
Make sure you visit her website!
I love to hear from people! Come join my gardening community the Flavorful Life Club
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