Make the most of your garden before winter

It’s not quite October, and the forecast calls for snow tonight. In preparation, I made a mad dash into the garden to harvest as many vegetables as possible (last year, I waited too long and lost an excruciating number of tomatoes!) Now I have a pile of tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, and peppers that even a family of rabbits couldn’t consume quickly. I called my sister-in-law (who is great at all things domestic) to ask her how I should preserve the last of this summer’s bounty.   Here's the plan we came up with:

Tomatoes: She recommended that I make and can wonderful things like salsa and marinara sauce. Instead, I am going to blanch whole tomatoes in boiling water for a few minutes, peel of the skins, and can them for later—they will likely end up in chili.

Basil: Since I didn’t actually make and can marinara sauce, I am unlikely to make her recommended pesto. Instead, I was pleased to learn that you can freeze fresh basil. Fresh basil tastes so much better than dried, plus this will save me a lot of money—the price of fresh basil typically rises in the winter months.

Cucumbers: This is one area worth canning for. I am making pickles! My kids eat them like candy and a jar of bread and butter pickles at the store can costs me about $4 (I have enough cucumbers to make around 10 jars of pickles). I may even get a bit creative; a quick visit to net me 399 pickle recipes!

Green peppers: Who knew this would be so simple? My sister-in-law suggested that I wash them, cut them, and freeze them. I am really looking forward to using the peppers in fajitas and on pizza.

It is also (past?) time to winterize the garden. Reader's Digest offers a great checklist on how to prepare your garden for the upcoming winter months. If you have any tips for making the most of your garden before winter, I'd love to hear them!

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.