Summer fruit: Pick it and preserve it

Summer fruit: Pick it and preserve it

August is also a great time to get your kids more connected to their food and where it comes from. If you've never been to a pick-your-own farm before, consider giving it a try this summer. This is a family outing that kids and adults alike will adore. We like Stade's Farm in McHenry County for pick-your-own strawberries. However, the strawberry season is sadly over here in the Midwest.

But never fear -- the pick-your-own farm and crop choices in Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan are numerous. I recommend visiting Pick-Your-Own.org for a comprehensive list of pick-your-own farms in your area. The information is searchable by location, type of produce, etc. Blueberry picking is still available!

What to do once you've filled your baskets with summer's goodies? Obviously, you fill your belly with as much of the good stuff as you can. But what about the precious leftovers? This stuff is too good to waste. I've got a few ideas on how to preserve the best that summer has to offer (you'll thank me come December).

  • Make your own fruit leather. Please, please, please skip
    those super sugary fruit snacks from the store. You can easily make your
    own dried fruit at home. This approach works particularly well for
    fruits like berries, apricots and other other fruit. Intrigued? I
    wrote a how-to article in this month's issue of Chicago Parent
    Magazine
    .
      We used strawberries for our fruit leather, but the
    recipe easily translates to other types of fruit.
  • Home canning. What, you say? Does this lady think I have
    nothing but time on my hands?  The idea of home canning made me nervous at first too. But now that I have a few batches of homemade jam under my belt (literally), I really love the process and plan to expand my
    canning this summer. And it really doesn't require much time, special
    equipment or skill. I sweat.  Fellow Chicago-area mama and blogger Emily Paster wrote a guest post over on my other ChicagoNow blog about picking fruit and home canning with kids. Have a look to learn more about getting your summer canning started.

Be sure to include the kiddos in the food preserving process -- this is
such a great learning opportunity for them.

Happy summer eating to you and your little ones!

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