You purchased local farm products — now what?


You went out and got your favorite fruits, veggies, cheeses and meats at your local producer.

You’ve made your favorite dishes all summer long for your family from old and new recipes.

Now, what do you do with the remaining product? Here are a few ideas: canning, drying and freezing. But how do you do this, you ask.

Well, if you didn’t pick up how to from mom or grandma, it’s best to learn from an expert, not just watching some videos. Check with your local community center on taking a class or two.


Canning is a little work but will help on shelf life and storage.

There are several methods, from heating up jars and applying lids to using a pressure cooker. You may can nearly anything from milk to meat.

It will require some kitchen tools and know-how.


Drying is not as much work as canning, but there is a lot of time spent waiting for the finished product. It can be done in an oven or a dehydrator, whichever works best and is less mess.

You can dry fruits, veggies and even eggs. If you have the time, drying produce in the oven on low and slow is a good way to preserve produce and meat.


Freezing is by far the easiest if you have the space. It does require some disposable items or a vacuum sealer.

Depending on how long you plan to store the item, the best choice of methods will work for you.

Using freezer baggies is a great way if you just need to keep food for a short time.

Hint: Make sure to use freezer bags, NOT storage bags, and get all of the air out of the bags for maximum longevity.

However, I do highly suggest a vacuum sealer for longer, fresher storage.

Make sure to label and date all bags.

These methods require kitchen tools. I suggest borrowing until you are sure this is for you and your family.

Then go out and get a few pieces at a time or even save up for the big-ticket items (pressure cooker/dehydrator/vacuum sealer) when they go on sale at your local hardware store or retailer.

Going bulk is a great way to save on costs. I suggest picking your own — you can make a day of it at your local farm with friends and neighbors.

I still remember going as a group with the neighborhood gang as we all piled into one or two cars with my mom and sister, two other moms with about seven kids.

We would pick whatever was in season that morning and be done and home before lunch. The moms would make their famous product to share with each family.

My mom made her freezer jam, another made applesauce and another pickling. Always plenty to last all year. Bonus: They made great gifts!

Mom’s Freezer Jam

  • 1 cup strawberries (the riper, the better)
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup sugar

Wash strawberries, remove stems and smash until slightly chunky. Put all ingredients into a saucepan and stir until combined. Place on medium-high heat until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce to medium-low and boil about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely before putting into containers. Stir before serving. Fill bag and spread contents so it is flat. Remove as much air as possible before sealing bag. Freeze the bag so it stays flat; this will help save space by stacking vertical or horizontally once frozen. It will stay fresh up to a year in the freezer or about a month in the fridge.


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Shelly Covert is an administrative assistant for Mahoning County Soil and Water Conservation District. She can be reached at



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