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I’m Maria, the "Plant Killer Turned Plant Lady" with a mission to help you care for plants successfully, grow your indoor jungles, and cultivate more joy in your life. I've got tons of content for you here on the blog, on the Bloom and Grow Radio Podcast, and Bloom and Grow Youtube Show to help you keep blooming and keep growing.
When you grow an edible garden, you likely end up with a surplus of fresh produce at the peak of each growing season. Rather than letting those precious veggies and fruits go to waste, consider preserving them through time-tested techniques like canning and fermenting. These methods allow you to safely store your garden harvest so you can enjoy homemade jams, pickles, sauces, and more throughout the year! In this episode, you'll learn the basics of canning and fermenting from renowned homesteader, canning expert, and author Stephanie Thurow.
Growing Joy: The Plant Lover's Guide to Cultivating Happiness (and Plants) by Maria Failla, Illustrated by Samantha Leung
Canning involves processing foods in sealed, sterile jars to make them shelf-stable. The most common at-home method is water bath canning. Here's what you'll need to get started:
Always leave the proper headspace, clean jar rims, and finger-tighten lids before processing. Once done, don’t disturb the jars until completely cooled to allow the vacuum seal to set.
Stephanie warns beginners not to modify recipes or take shortcuts that seem to work but aren’t proven safe methods. Follow trusted guidelines and processing times to eliminate any food safety risks.
For successful home canning, follow these steps: Use a tall stock pot or canning pot to submerge filled jars, maintaining 1-2 inches of water above them. Pack clean jars with recipes, leaving 1⁄4-1⁄2 inch headspace. Wipe rims clean, seal lids finger-tight, and process in boiling water for the time in the recipe, usually 10+ minutes. After processing, let jars sit in hot water for 5 more minutes, then cool and seal for 12-24 hours. To store, remove rings, check seals, label, and store in a cool, dark place, using within 1 year.
Patience is key, plant friends!
Go small when starting out – that way if you don't like a recipe, you haven't ended up with 50 jars of something you won't eat! Stephanie suggests small-batch recipes like:
In addition to canning, fermenting your harvest allows you to preserve veggies using beneficial bacteria. Lactic acid fermentation relies on natural bacteria present in the vegetables to convert sugars into lactic acid. This natural preservative inhibits harmful microorganisms.
There are two main techniques:
The steps are simple: Pack prepared vegetables tightly in a clean quart jar. Add brine, leaving 2 inches of headspace. Ferment at room temperature for 1-4 weeks, achieving desired tanginess. Keep vegetables submerged under brine, pressing down only when you notice it’s not submerged. Seal the jar and refrigerate for prolonged freshness.
During fermentation, keep your vegetables weighted down below the liquid. Check them periodically and release trapped air bubbles. Taste frequently until it reaches your desired tanginess, then move to the fridge to slow fermentation.
Over years of preserving, Stephanie has honed her favorite canning and fermenting recipes. Here are a few she recommends for beginners:
Now that you know the basics, it’s time to put your new canning and fermenting skills to work, preserving the delicious harvest from your backyard or community garden. To learn more from Stephanie Thurow, check out her books and website listed below. What will you try preserving from your garden harvest this year?
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Explore the history and draw inspiration from different cottage garden design-styles in this organically-written book filled with over 700 full-color photographs. Learn the fundamentals and the principles behind well-design cottage gardens as author Claus Dalby features famous and modern cottage gardeners and gardens from all over the world. This book is your ultimate resource for understanding and interpreting the cottage garden design, so you can create your own! Check out The Cottage Garden at your favorite local bookstore, quarto.com, Barnes and Noble, or amazon.com.
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