Pumpkin, maple and apple have taken over our lives again bringing fall flavors in full force. Out go shorts, peaches and grills; in come sweaters, apples and slow cookers. Before you say goodbye to summer for good, make one last trip to the farmer’s market or pick all that’s remaining in your garden. Spend a day in the kitchen preserving your bounty for the cold winter months ahead; not only will you reduce food waste, but you’ll also give yourself the gift of summer flavors all year long.
Pickles are perhaps some of the easiest things to make, and you can keep them in your fridge even until next summer’s produce is back at the market. You can pickle almost any vegetable or even fruit with a simple brine. Pickling uses lacto-fermentation, a technique that creates lactic acid, a natural preservative, to ferment the food, and provides several health benefits along the way. Start with Dill Pickles, but once you get familiar with the basic brine recipe you can get creative with all your summer treasures.
Take a break from loaves of zucchini bread and swap the cucumber for zucchini in Quick Zucchini Pickles. Zucchini is more tender than cucumber and soaks up a lot of flavor from your brine. Feel free to get creative and add other spices or herbs to your brine for a flavor adventure. Or pickle fruit to add some sweetness to that well-known tang. Pickled Peaches are just the thing for the upcoming holiday season. They are a great addition to roasted meats or can add a bright bite to any cheeseboard on the menu for Thanksgiving or winter gatherings.
While a warm slice of pumpkin bread is never something to pass up, it’s even better with homemade peach preserves. Kick off slow cooker season with a big batch of Vanilla Peach Preserves. Peaches get even sweeter when they cook down for hours, turning into a flavorful spread you can enjoy on toast, in oatmeal or by the spoonful. The best part about this recipe? Peach skin is so tender that you don’t even have to remove it.
If savory is more your jam, then try making ketchup out of your peaches. Puzzled? You’re in for a surprise: Ketchup doesn’t have to be made with tomatoes—it’s really just a combination of vinegar and fruit. Try out this Sweet and Sour Peach Ketchup to stock up your fridge with a unique condiment that will take you back to summer even on the coldest days.
Now what to do with those tomatoes? By this time of year, you’ve had gallons of gazpacho and need a break from tomatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can turn this fruit into jam, too. If your tomato plant is heavy with green tomatoes that won’t ripen before the chill sets in, make Green Tomato and Ginger Jam. The green tomatoes provide just enough sweetness to make this a spread worthy of any cheeseboard, crudité platter or over-the-top egg breakfast sandwich.
And if you still find yourself tackling endless piles of ripe tomatoes, make a quick blended no-cook tomato sauce that can be used as a base for pastas, soups and even Bloody Marys! Freeze it in ice cube trays. Once frozen, dump them into a bag. Then, pull out a few when a quick weeknight dinner is in order; just defrost or add them to anything bubbling away on the stove.
Clean out the fridge and make some room in the freezer—you’ll need it for all of these summer-produce saviors. Ready to preserve summer? Head to the farmer’s market or pick away the last of your garden and invite over some friends for a summer farewell pickling party. From traditional pickles to green tomato jam, there’s a way to preserve all your favorites and savor summer all year long.