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October 1998 Issue
Saving Nature's Best
by Ronda L. Halpin
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You've spent several days a week throughout the summer in your garden. Now, your work's paid off. You are surrounded with wonderful fresh vegetables. At first, you're thrilled and ripe tomatoes, beans, and cucumbers are added to everything you can get your hands on. But, as the season continues and more vegetables keep coming, you begin to wonder what to do with them all. If you're like me, it's time to clean up the jars, pull out the rims and lids, and find that heavy pressure cooker again. It's time to start preserving your bounty.

Before we talk recipes, let's cover a few preserving basics. Always make sure you use the freshest ingredients (taking care to remove any dark or spoiled spots) and the cleanest jars, lids, and rings. If you aren't careful about cleanliness, you could end up with unsealed jars or, worse yet, food poisoning. Never use the food in an unsealed jar or a jar containing unusual coloring, foam, or a rancid odor. Use common sense and your canning cellar (or other cool, dry, dark storage place) will be a joy during those long winter months.

This article includes some of my all-time favorite ways to preserve some traditional garden fare: tomatoes, pickles, and beans. They are:

All of the recipes included in this article (with the exception of Dried Tomatoes) have been in my family for generations. A canning cellar is almost as important as a bathroom in our humble opinion! So, if you have several pails of tomatoes just waiting to be used or your pickles are being especially bountiful this year, take heart! Use these recipes and you can look forward to those wonderful garden flavors in the middle of winter. Good luck!
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