Herbs. I've already blogged about preserving herbs. I generally freeze my basil, parsley and cilantro. I also dry basil, rosemary, thyme, sage, fennel and dill. Two weeks ago, I made and froze an ice-cube tray of traditional basil pesto (with pine nuts). The last few years, I've substituted walnuts for pine nuts in my pesto. This weekend, I'm going to try a new recipe for basil-pistacchio pesto. I've also trimmed some basil branches, put them in water until they spouted roots and planted them in pots to keep in windows and below grow lights. However, I will admit to keeping a rather chilly house in the winter and the plants never seem to thrive in low light and 57 degree nights.
Fruit. You already know that I freeze berries, can peaches and make jam. Last year, I made and canned apple sauce, too. This year, I expanded to canning apples so that I could make an apple pie and cranberry-apple crisp with a snap of the fingers without having to spend hours peeling fruit.
Canning is easier than it sounds and there are only four major downsides to canning your own food. First, canning is time consuming, particularly, if like me, you can your food in small batches as you harvest it. It goes much faster if you simply buy your produce in bulk at a farmer's market or at Lynd's and then can a product en masse for one day. Second, it really heats up your kitchen, which is very uncomfortable in July and August. Third, you'll need to devote a lot of hefty shelf space in your basement pantry to storing your canned good and to storing empty jars. Fourth, it can be very dangerous if you get sloppy. You have to be careful not to open a pressure cooker before the pressure recedes or to operate it at all if it is dry. You also need to be sure that the jar seals work properly and that you cook the food properly to avoid food poisoning. (My aunt assures me that botulism is a very unpleasant way to die).