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(MCT)—If you’re anything like me you are savoring the bounty of fresh produce arriving this season. My vegetable garden is thriving and I am also enjoying the fresh fruits and veggies I find at my local farmer’s market. Shopping for foods that are in-season is an important way to Do Your Part because that produce isn’t being shipped around the world to get to your table, it’s at its freshest, and is usually much more affordable. However, when summer is over, you don’t have to miss out of your favorite flavors. A little extra work right now will help you enjoy those summer foods all year long.

Preserving foods was something many of our grandparents and great-grandparents did. Now, this peak season secret is becoming more commonplace as people strive to eat smarter and save some money. There are three main ways to preserve foods and the easiest is freezing. It doesn’t take much time or preparation, and you can freeze almost anything. Use airtight freezer bags or containers that can be easily stacked to make the most of the room available in your freezer.

Canning is the traditional way to preserve what you buy or comes from your garden. This method takes a little time and know-how but more practically, a pressure cooker, glass jars, and lids. If not done properly, food can spoil. However, canned foods store well, for years, and you can line your pantry with glass jars of seasonal goodness that can be quickly reheated.

Drying foods is the third method of food preservation. There are many ways to dry food, but using a food dehydrator really is the best option. All you have to do is place the items in the appliance and wait. Not all foods are good for drying, but once dehydrated, and they store very easily.

The main thing to remember is to work with the foods that are in-season at the moment. For instance, blueberries, corn, and tomatoes are summer foods. Broccoli and pears are fall foods. Winter’s harvest brings oranges and sweet potatoes. And in spring look for asparagus, limes, and even green beans. To see what’s in season where you live and where your nearest farmer’s market is, check out DoYourPart.com/Columns.

Buying in-season produce is also a good way to save money while you shop. It’s usually much less expensive than buying foods that have traveled the globe. Plus, you’ll be cutting out all the resources it takes to package and ship it from so far away. Do Your Part and enjoy the summer season now — and throughout the year.

Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, eco-expert and author of Do Your Part: A practical guide for everyday green living available at DoYourPart.com.

Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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