Summer's Bounty

Debra Frick

I don't know about you but I love shopping at the farmer's market. I have a small garden, but it is not enough to feed the seven people who live in my house so I do my quantity shopping at the farmer's market. My mother did not can or preserve food in any way so I had to learn this on my own trial and error. I found that freezing food was easier for me and since I am always feeding a crowd around here that it also was the most economical for me. I also dehydrate vegetables to use in soups and stews through the winter. This year, Miller's Farm has been having some great sales at the market, I can get about 50-60 pounds of produce organically grown for around $15.00.


So for all the newbies out there that need information on how to preserve some of summer's bounty, I thought I would share some of my all time favorite recipes. These recipes freeze well and can be used for a variety of things. Also I buy things like mushrooms and celery, two things that I cannot get at the market when they are on sale and dehydrate them for use all year long. All measurements are approximate, as some people may not use salt or the specific spice that I do. The best way to do these recipes is to set aside a Saturday and cook all day. I always freeze in the freezer Ziploc bags, as they will lie flat in my freezer so they take up less room.

Basic Tomatoes


  • 8-10 pounds of tomatoes
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 3 carrots shredded


Boil water and quickly dunk the tomatoes in and leave just long enough for the skins to crack. Peel tomatoes. In skillet saute' the onions and garlic. Put tomatoes in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven and squish to make chunks add the onions and garlic and celery and carrots. Cook on low heat for 1 hour or until you have a thick sauce. Put in freezer bags.

To the basic tomatoes, you can continue on and add any vegetable that you like. I some times add grated zucchini or summer squash into the tomatoes to add extra nutrition and because my family doesn't always want to eat squash and, if it is hidden in the sauce, they don't care if it is there. I use basic tomatoes to make spaghetti sauce, cream of tomato soup, chili or any dish that requires a tomato base. Having this frozen in my freezer in gallon bags, makes making spaghetti very easy. All I do is add Italian seasonings and meat. The sauce only needs to cook for about a half an hour and I have homemade dinner on the table. Same with chili I drain and rinse some beans, cook up some hamburger and add some chili powder and green chilies in a can and then just let it simmer for about a half and hour. I also use this raw which means that I only peel the tomatoes and saute' the onions and garlic for salsa and then add a can of green chilies and freeze.


Onion Butter

This recipe was from my aunt who lives in Illinois, She would send this canned to us every summer and at Christmas. In talking with her, I found out that this need not be canned and could be frozen. I know it sounds silly but if you are an onion lover like me you will just flip over this recipe.


  • 5 pounds of onions peeled and quartered
  • water to cover
  • small amount of salt


In a heavy Dutch oven or pot cover the onions just barely with water. Add a small amount of salt. Now comes the important part. Bring the mixture to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer with a lid on the pot and cook for a full 24 hours. Yes, I said a full 24 hours. You will need to add more water occasionally but the idea is to slowly caramelize the onions down until they become a thick paste. Cool. Store in freezer bags and freeze.

Onion butter can be put on any bread including corn bread. It can be added to mashed potatoes or used as a topping for baked potatoes. It can be used as a condiment for hot dogs or sausages or hamburgers. Small amounts can be stirred into soups or stews. Try this and I bet you will find many more uses.

Grandmother Nellie's Apple Butter

Here is one more recipe that may have to wait until fall but it is well worth it. My grandmother Nellie used to make us the best Apple butter in the world. She would send us a dozen jars at Christmas along with pecans from her own trees. I loved this recipe and before she passed on I got her to give me the recipe. I found that if I add some lemon juice to her recipe it froze just fine.


  • 5 pounds of apples peeled
  • water to cover
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg
  • half a cup of sugar


Peel apples and cut into chunks and put into a heavy Dutch oven. Cover with water and cook until the apples are soft. Using a blender or hand mixer blend the apples until they are smooth. Add sugar and spices and let simmer until thick. Add 3 tablespoons of lemon juice. Cool and freeze.

I hope like me you will be enjoying the bounties of summer!

Editor's Note: Do you have any favorite recipes for preserving summer's bounty? Share them here!

Summer's Bounty

About The Author: Debra Frick is a mother of 5 and a grandmother to 8 grandsons and one granddaughter. She is a published author and poetress. Recycling and saving money are her passions. She also loves crocheting and cooking. She is also a pet rescue volunteer and has many pets of her own.

August 1, 20080 found this helpful

Lucky you! Here in our small town in Maine we have noticed the huge increase in Farmer's Market produce. My husband came home with a dozen small corn that he paid $6 for! We paid $3 for them last summer!!

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August 2, 20080 found this helpful

Yes! Lucky you. Here in Alaska is ridiculous to buy at the farmers market, EVERYTHING is expensive! Sometimes I do wish we were in the lower 48.

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August 2, 20080 found this helpful

I really would like to hear from someone who cans meat. I never hear of recipes for canned meat.

I am a city girl of 42 years, moved to the country for the last 10 years. And I've learned to can lots of things, it's not hard, just have your recipe ingredients, jars, lids, and rings ahead of time. It's work, but, VERY rewarding. A successful small garden will even yield a lot.

I've canned, jalapenos, pickles, green beans, tomatoes, and tomato juice. Spaghetti sauce, and salsa with my tomatoes also. I know there is a very good site on the internet that gives picture step by step instructions on how to can green beans. (an old pro friend of mine needed to brush up her skills and asked for the site. Just key in canning, or canning green beans).

I've frozen squash, green beans and corn, and that's a real easy task. I've been told to blanch the green beans before freezing then cool them. To me they have no taste, and hard to get cooked up. So, this year, I seasoned them, cooked them up completely, then froze them. Just thaw them completely before cooking them up, or they will be overcooked when you go to eat them.

You can actually make a green bean pot medley with green beans, squash, tomatoes, zucchini, and most vegetable out of the garden. Cook them completely, seasoned with meat, like I used a ham hock (hey I'm southern!) They tasted so good, and we ate some, and I froze up the rest in quart freezer bags. I've learned a lot with my 10 years in the country. But, I can say, it's good, and rewarding to can and freeze, and money saving too! I even freeze a surplus of bread, flour, and corn meal. I know an elderly lady that grows her garden in 5 gallon buckets because she now lives in an apt. So, what ever works, it's good eating. God Bless.

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August 3, 20080 found this helpful

Your onion butter sounds wonderful! It would also be a great way to add onion flavor w/out your kids spending the entire meal picking out the onion pieces, LOL. Aother great way to preserve those beautiful sweet onions is with your crockpot. I just chunk up the onions into the crockpot until its full, and 1 -2 sticks of butter and cook on low. I put it on before I go to bed, then in the morning it is ready to freeze. These onions go great in hotdish, soups, or just reheated and eaten alone or as a condiment for meats. Robbyn in Wisconsin

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August 5, 20080 found this helpful

The prices here have gone up also! But we go late in the day to get the best bargains. The farmers don't want to have to haul it home so we get better deals. The produce might be smaller but it is well worth my time. My favorite farm offers at the end of the day all you can put in a box for 15.00 and you can get a lot in those small boxes if you stack everything correctly. Also this is a family farm not a commerical grower (which we have a few that go to the farmers market) plus their produce is not certified organic.

Try going later in the day and bargain with the farmer if he knows you are going to buy in quantity maybe he will give you a better price.

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Summer's Bounty
Preserving Summer's Bounty
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Food and Recipes Food TipsJuly 30, 2008
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Shopping at a Farmers Market
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Canning Peaches
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Tips for Buying Fresh Fruit
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