Preserving Without Canning: Tips and Tricks for Summer Produce

We hate to say it, but summer will be over before we know it. Now is the time to preserve some of the season's gems like tomatoes, peaches, corn, and peppers. Preserving isn't just about canning, though. Here are some tips for freezing, pickling, making sauces, and more.

Berries: Berries may be frozen, of course, but our favorite way to preserve their flavor is in a shrub syrup, which you can use in sodas, cocktails, and salad dressings. Vinegar is also a great option for berries.

Cherries: Check out this post on 10 Ways to Preserve Cherries and get ready to make frozen cherries, dried cherries, pickled cherries, Maraschino cherries, boozy cherries, vinegar, and liqueur!

Corn: Corn freezes very well. Select tender corn in the milk stage, husk, and blanch on the cob for about 5 minutes. When cool enough to handle, cut the kernels off the cob. Freeze in an airtight bag or container with 1/2-inch headspace (the space between the top of the food and the inside of the lid) to allow for expansion.

Cucumbers: Refrigerator pickles are easy and rewarding. Here's a basic formula for pickling brine, and also try Marisa McClellan's recipe for Garlic Dill Refrigerator Pickles. The same process can be used for green beans, okra, and summer squash, too.

Eggplant: Freeze slices of eggplant to use in eggplant Parmesan and other dishes. Slice eggplant 1/3-inch thick and blanch for 4 minutes in 1 gallon of water with 1/2 cup of lemon juice. Cool, drain, and freeze in an airtight bag or container with 1/2-inch headspace.

Figs: Preserve figs in brandy (delicious on ice cream!) or dry them in the oven or a dehydrator to make fig salami. Get the details here.

Peaches: The best peach jam we've ever had was a freezer jam, which really preserved the vibrant flavor of the fruit. If you like peach pie, check out this tip for freezing fruit fillings.

Peppers: Sweet peppers don't freeze terribly well, but a sauce like Red Pepper Paste does. Spicy peppers can be turned into DIY hot sauce.

Tomatoes: Freeze whole tomatoes (or chop them up) for year-round use in sauces and stews. Homemade tomato paste is another great ingredient to freeze.

Watermelon: It might sound strange, but we highly recommend dried watermelon – it's like a fantastic, chewy candy.

• For more tips on food preservation, including freezing and drying, visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation site.

Related: Preserving Without Canning: Tips and Tricks for Spring Produce

(Images: Emily Ho)