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213. Super Easy Food Preserving with Megan Cain | Quick Techniques for Fresh, Fridge and Freezer Storage | Bonus Episode
26th February 2018 • GREEN Organic Garden Podcast • Jackie Marie Beyer
00:00:00 00:56:43

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Super Easy Food Preserving

I’m super excited this morning because today’s featured guest is the most downloaded guest of all time. Here to share with us more of her amazing knowledge from the Creative Vegetable Gardener is Megan Cain!

Creative Vegetable Gardener Website

Welcome back Megan! I spoke with Megan in episode 44 & then again on episode  70 (Make Your Garden Harvest Last All Year Long, episode 115, and in Feb we did a bonus episode about her Smart Start Planning Guide in Feb!)


Mini-Farm Preserving

I reached out to her because Mike has been so busy down with the mini farm! He has already canned:

  • 51 pints of beans
  • 12 pints of pickled beets
  • 9 pints of carrots
  • 14 1/2 pints of Oregon grape jelly

and when he was making the grape jelly he was going thru Megan’s book and kept coming up to me saying did you see this? Did you know this? Haven’t you been asking me about this?

And so I asked Megan if she wanted to come back and talk with us again about her amazing book Super Easy Food Preserving Quick Techniques for Fresh, Fridge and Freezer Storage. Some of my favorite features in the book is she has a great worksheet right off the bat where you start strategically thinking about your garden needs. I always love worksheets and checklists! And it’s full of questions I wouldn’t think of necessarily like

  • “What foods do I want to eat out of season?
  • What tastes better when I eat them during the local growing season?”

Sounds like Mike’s been busy!

2017 Garden Challenges

Yes, but we’ve been having so many challenges this year!

  • Deer 
  • Squirrels
  • Hail
  • Fires
  • Voles
  • Mice
  • Bugs and insects
  • Drought – no rain since June
  • Predators – Skunks or something got the duck and one of our cats

I do a lot of food preserving. I lived on a farm and we did a lot of preserving. And mostly we did canning. We moved to Wisconsin. Then we moved here I had a garden, I thought that’s how I preserve food, I did a lot of canning, but I didn’t really like it! 

There’s got to be some easier ways to preserve food then canning

I did research and so I talked to people and started to piece together quicker and easier ways to preserve food then canning! 

I started to tell friends and neighbors I saw that was a common belief. When people think about canning! That’s what my book explores.

If you like canning you should continue to do it!

But for people who don’t have time for canning

  • need equipment
  • easier ways
  • don’t need special equipment!

We do have one or two days to can salsa because I haven’t found a good substitute. We do a little bit of canning, it’s hard to fit it in and we kind of dread it but we do it because we love having salsa

  • fresh
  • fridge
  • freezer


Fresh storage

So the first thing I ask is “Can I store the vegetable fresh?”

And garlic!

I dry it in my garage. Once it’s dry I put it in boxes in my basement. Then we eat our own garlic all year round!  I don’t have to can it or freeze it or antyhing!

I just

  • dry it
  • stick it in my basement

That’s a good example of something you can store fresh!

Megan Cain Carrots 2017

The next category is the


So if I can’t store it fresh I say, “Can I store it in the fridge?”

Beets and carrots store for a long time in your fridge!

I usually grow fall beets and carrots!

I leave them in the garden as long as natural in Wisconsin.

Before it gets too cold and the ground:

  • snap off tops
  • pack in plastic bags
  • shove them in the bottom and back of fridge

they last in April, May, and June of the next year!


people like canned picked beets

When you store things in the fridge you can decide later


last category


things you can freeze,

i have a chest freezer

good investment

that’s the biggest category

some things you can freeze raw

  • peppers

I just harvested a lot of red and yellow peppers from my garden! 


We’ll eat some fresh! I’m just gonna

  • take out the seeds
  • chop them up
  • put them in freezer bags
  • and throw them in the freezer

We use them all winter longs in all kinds of

  • stir fry
  • beans
  • egg dishes

There’s a few things you have to do a bit of pre-processing a few things you need to do!

broccoli would be a good example

Usually what you want to do is

  • steam it
  • flash boil it

really quick

just until it’s bright green!

Don’t want to over cook it, want it kind of al dente just till it’s bright bright green!

take it put it in our fill our sink with water and ice! Dump it in to stop it cooking!

That’s what he told me. Like before the squirrels, I froze a lot of swiss chard and some broccoli. If I had more room I’d freeze more chard, and we want to get a chest freezer.  I like to freeze swiss chard because my spinach was gone. He came to show me the pepper tip but I did know that only because you told me!

 Megan Cain Super Easy Food Preserving red and yellow peppers

Red peppers

Peppers are one of my favorite things to freeze!

I don’t like green peppers as much as they are basically unripe peppers

as many of my peppers to turn red or orange or yellow!

We freeze them because they can be expensive!

  • red
  • orange
  • yellow

think about how most of us cook in the winter. We cook a lot of stuff.

  • soups
  • stews
  • different kinds like that

I think it’s fine to throw frozen things into food that’s going to go in the oven and get roasted or turned into the soup.

For me it’s easier, I’m always throwing frozen brocolli that’s already cooked ahead of time. It’s something to throw in there.


It saves money in the long run it’s more efficient in the long run! I was saying in a class I taught a couple of weeks ago, I was saying last year I went to the farmer’s market in sept

I bought a huge bag of broccoli for 12$

  • froze it all
  • almost all the broccoli we needed for the winter!
  • pre-processed it
  • steamed it
  • froze it

Then we have we have as much broccoli we need for the whole winter!

The other option is you

  • go to the grocery store every two weeks
  • you buy some broccoli
  • it sits in your fridge
  • you chop it up.

We did it all at once! 

We never have to buy broccoli it’s ready to go!

we’re cooking in winter and all we are doing is reaching in a bag 

  • getting some broccoli
  • getting peppers
  • corn

A lot of the prep work is already done. It makes winter cooking easier.

The other tip you taught me was putting things on the cookie tray and Mike said do you know this and I said yes because Megan taught me!

I learned that  the first time I had frozen corn

  • took it off the cob
  • shoved it all in the bag
  • frozen in the huge block that I had to chisel corn off of!

So I learned

  • raspberries
  • strawberries
  • blueberries – depending on how wet
  • brocoli

peppers are pretty dry so we just throw them in the bag. Anything that has the potential to be wet just spread it on the cookie sheet.

Huckleberries with day lily

Fresh Montana Huckleberries


For us it depends on how ripe they are in the beginning of the season as compared to the end where they’re stickier and juicier. Like Huckleberries will get all stuck.

a lot of jalapeños

My husband chopped them up and he put them in separate bags. That was the first time we froze hot peppers. 

A lot of times when you make a recipe it just asks for a jalapeño or half of a jalapeño

didn’t have jalapeño so I’d just skip it. So having them already chopped I could just throw a handful in! If you don’t grow  jalapeños. They are so cheap to buy things I don’t grow

things I don’t have room for

great prices around here at the farmer’s market.  

for $2

tomatoes for $1 a pound! I was thinking I should preserve some of this food! the prices are so amazing! It hit me like a bolt of lighting! And I was like yeah!

I could just buy food for the farmer’s market for preserving!

I always thought I would preserve food I grew. I only looked through it thorough that frame. I can just come to the farmer’s market and buy broccoli to freeze

Since I am into easy food preserving sometimes the easiest option is to not grow it and just buy it!

Sometimes no matter where you live especially in Wisconsin

  • height of the harvest
  • summer things and a lot of fall things
  • most variety of food
  • prices are pretty low
  • you can go and get large quantities of things for not that much money!

Then you could do some preserving

be fun to chop peppers but I don’t have any. Then go to the farmer’s market and see if you can get some bulk deals!

Then just chop up some peppers and freeze them! The next year can plan to grow some if you like it!

Super Easy Food PRESERVING by Megan Cain

I love the way your book goes through

  • details
  • favorite varieties
  • how long it lasts in storage
  • favorite recipes

It’s just like you, strategically designed

It is kind of a cookbook layout. If you have a bunch of peppers you can turn to the pepper page and see what I recommend for doing for peppers

once you preserve food then 

learning how to cook with the food preserve and recipes

I collected my favorite things in. I share some of those in the book! There’s actually a