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Why I Garden: To Unleash My Inner Chef

Being able to grow your own food is important because it allows you to feed your family well while carefully stocking your cabinets up with all of the extras. There are three basic food preservation methods commonly used today. The first one is canning. It involves storing food in glass jars with a tight seal. The second one is drying, which removes the water out of the food to reduce the time that it takes to spoil. And the last method is freezing. It keeps food items at a low temperature to prevent the formation of bacteria. Most gardeners use one or more of these methods regularly during the summer season while they stock up on spices, herbs, fruits, and vegetables. To keep things interesting, they often unleash their inner chef to get creative with the preservation methods. Those who are interested in trying something new to store their excess garden produce will love the following ideas:

Herbal Butters

First, wash and dry an extra ice tray. Then, melt a pound of butter in a small sauce pan on the stove. Don't let the butter brown, though. While it is melting, snip up some of your favorite herbs into the pan. Stir the mixture well. Pour it into the ice tray, and place the tray into the freezer. Once the butter solidifies, the herbal butter cubes can be put into a large freezer bag. That way, whenever you need one to make a meal, you can grab it easily. Some garden herbs that work well for this are oregano, rosemary, thyme, and mint. A combination of olive oil and butter can also be used to make these.

Homemade Trail Mix

A lot of people eat trail mix for a snack while they hike or watch a movie. But it usually contains sugar-coated fruit, which isn't healthy. A better alternative is some homemade trail mix that is made from leftover garden fruits and vegetables. All you have to do is use a dehydrator to dry green beans, peas, carrots, strawberries, and apples. Then, toss them all into a resealable bag for storage. A dash of seasoning can be added in for extra flavor. And those who happen to have a supply of nuts from the trees in their yard might want to add some of those in too.

Canned Succotash

Succotash is basically a combination of vegetables that are mixed together. It works great for when you have only a small amount of a few different vegetables. Homemade versions of it usually have to be canned with a special pressure cooker because the vegetables used in it aren't acidic enough by themselves. However, if tomatoes and extra lemon juice are added in, it can be made with a simple water-bath method. If you don't know how to can using the water-bath method, then be sure to do some research before you try this food storage method out.

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