This time of year, you finally are getting to enjoy the fresh produce from your garden. Growing your own produce can save you money.

However, your garden may produce more than you can eat before it spoils. If you are just throwing food out, you’re not really saving money. Using a food preservation method such as the ones listed below can help extend the life of your food.

Canning is the most expensive form of food preservation. Buying a jar of jelly/jam from the grocery store might be cheaper than making your own. If you can, you will need jars, lids and a canner (water bath or pressure, depending on what you are canning), and the costs can add up quickly. However, the amount of joy you may get from canning food items as a family is priceless.

Two inexpensive methods of preserving food from your garden are drying and freezing. If you don’t have a food dehydrator, you can use your oven. If you decide to freeze your foods, you just will need freezer storage bags or containers.

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For more information on how to preserve your harvest and what equipment you will need, visit, NDSU Extension’s food preservation website.

Connect with Kids

Kids can learn a lot when growing, preparing and preserving food. Explore basic food preservation and fun garnishes to make with your family.

Many fruits and vegetables are in season, so they are at their best quality and, often, best price. Try preserving any extra with a little help from a child.

Drying food is one of the easiest food preservation methods. The following fruits were rated as “excellent” or “good” by the University of Georgia for preparing fruit leather: apples, apricots, berries, cherries, nectarines, peaches, pears, pineapple, plums and strawberries. Other fruits (blueberries, cranberries) in combination can provide a good end product, too.

Garden Garnishes

  • Children learn best by doing, playing and being engaged in the experience.

  • We all can use a little whimsy, no matter what our age.

  • Some garden veggies and homegrown fruit just ask to be the center of attention!

Why not combine all three and make garnishes from fresh produce with your kids?

If your family members like to create on their own, check your garden, the orchard or the farmers market and decide what you can make by what the fruits and vegetables look like to you. If you need more inspiration, check the library, cookbooks or the internet. Here is a fun page to get you started: (garnishes to make with kids).

Keep your food designs simple so everyone can take part and feel successful. Toothpicks make the job easier, but they are not safe hidden in food, so refrain from using elements you can’t eat.

Making garden garnishes is a great way to help kids get comfortable with fruits and vegetables while being creative and sharing time around the family table.

Article used with permission from Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension, The Family Table newsletter, Issue 8.

For more information about this topic, contact the Stutsman County Extension office at 252-9030 or email