How To Start Planning For Next Year’s Preservation

Fresh produce is available all summer long.  Many hours are spent in the kitchen chopping, cooking, freezing, canning and drying to preserve the bounty for the rest of the year.  The fall will still bring a few fresh foods like squash, pumpkin, apples and pears.  But now that summer is winding down, prime season for a lot of produce is over.

It is tempting to sit back, take a deep breath and consider your summer produce preservation task over.  But before you do there is one more thing to consider.  Taking inventory and planning for next year!

It may seem early to start planning for next summer, but a little work now will really pay off for years to come.  Here are a few simple steps to make each season of preservation a success.

  1. Keep a record.  Make a spreadsheet and keep track of what produce you buy throughout the summer.  Be sure to note the quantity, cost and date of purchase.  Next summer you’ll know about when to expect and prepare for each type of produce and roughly how much it will cost.
  2. Make a list of your favorite recipes and pantry staples.  Do you make a lot of smoothies with frozen fruit?  Do you use a lot of jam?  Do you eat a lot of salsa?  Figure out what you’ll want available all year in your pantry and freezer.  Then you won’t forget anything.  And with a record of when all of the produce is available you’ll know exactly when you need to be ready to make it.
  3. Check your stock from last year.  Did you clear your freezer stock of fruits and vegetables last year?  Are your pantry shelves still overflowing with canned goods?  Assess how much you used to get an idea for how much you’ll want to make next year.  It’s easy to check your freezer stock if you keep a good record all year.
  4. Take inventory of this year.  Before using any of your freshly preserved foods take inventory of everything you have just preserved and made.
  5. Take inventory again next summer.  At the beginning of next summer take inventory again and see what’s left.  Did you make way too many pickles?  Did you run out of corn half way through winter?  The start of the next preservation season is a great time to assess.

Combine all of these steps to come up with a summer preservation plan.  The first year or two will take some work.  But after that you’ll have a running list of how much you need to preserve, when the produce will be ready, about how much it will cost and any necessary recipes and equipment (jars, lids, freezer bags or containers, etc.).

You can tweak the plan every year to meet the needs of your growing (or shrinking) family, the state of the crops (there probably won’t be as much peach, pear and apple canning this year!) and your schedule (a long summer vacation could mean you miss out on a particular fruit or vegetable).  Then enjoy a perfectly stocked freezer and pantry all year long.

Mary Voogt is a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mother of two. After 6 years as an electrical engineer she now stays home full time. She is passionate about real food and enjoys spending lots of time in the kitchen cooking and baking from scratch. She blogs at Homemade Dutch Apple Pie on a variety of topics including digestive issues, OCD, anxiety, infertility, natural parenting and healthy food.