Think outside the canning kettle - easy ways to preserve the harvest!

Preserving food at home has become all the rage lately! And for good reason - it is a great way to enjoy the delicious, healthful foods that are abundant in the summer, all year long. Plus, it is an amazing way to use any excess and reduce food waste. Canning can be labor-intensive, a little scary to the newbie, and hot, hot, hot! But there are so many other ways to preserve the flavor and delight of the bounty of summer. Read on for three easy ways you can capture the pure deliciousness of summer, all year long.

You don't need any fancy equipment, a challenging recipe, or even much time to put up some local food for the winter. Here are three of our favorite (EASY!) ways to preserve the market abundance you'll find this time of year.  

1. Compound butters - Butter does indeed make it better - but what's even better than butter? Butter whipped together with savory or sweet locally-grown ingredients! A pat of compound butter is perfect on a steak, smeared on a biscuit, or dolloped on top of some pasta. Some tomato butter may be the only way to improve upon the pure sweetness of an ear of corn. Maple butter is perfect on French toast, along with some raspberries, blackberries, or whatever fruit you pick up at Market, and it also adds incredible dimension to roasted carrots or brussels sprouts. One of the things we love about compound butter is that you can let your imagination run wild - and you don't need to stick to a recipe - but if you want some more pointers and ideas, check out these six recipes.

2. Infused vinegars - Infused vinegars will add a splash of something special to salads, steamed vegetables, and marinades, and they allow you to flavor dishes without salt or fat.  You can infuse vinegar with pretty much any ingredient that has an aroma - both savory and sweet. Imagine how wonderful a spinach salad tossed with a peach vinegar salad dressing will taste in December! Or a kale saute with peppa' sauce? Or perhaps a pork shoulder marinated in basil vinegar? Yum!

3. Freeze it - not as sexy as compound butter or infused vinegar, there is a reason that freezing is a tried-and-true method of food preservation. It's quick, it's easy, and it gives you delicious produce year-round. Peas, corn, and blueberries can all be frozen whole, just make sure to wash them first. Peppers are one of our favorite things to freeze - just slice them up and put them in a bag - throughout the winter, you an grab a handful and toss them right into the pan or pot of whatever you are making. Easy! Here's a comprehensive guide for freezing almost everything!

Whether you're a newcomer to the world of preservation or you have a stocked larder, this is a great time of year to try your hand at a new method of putting up local foods! Have fun!