Pickle & Preserve

The Best Way To Preserve Summer Produce

Bottle up sunshine now, thank yourself later.

August 22, 2023
Photo by Melina Hammer

Late summer means preserving all the things, whether you grow your own food like I do at Catbird Cottage, or you’re one to fall into reverie, dazzled by the innumerable tables of colorful fruit and veg at the farmers’ market. Right now, my daily goals include preserving this bounty as much as possible. I make quick, vinegar, and fermented pickles, bottle up summer sauce and jams, infuse salt, sugar, oils, and vinegars with tender aromatics, and generally work on overdrive so when days are cold and short, I have the bursting bright flavors from warmer days to keep me company. Here are a few tried-and-true methods to capture the seasons, so when cold winter days hit again, you can reap the benefits and enjoy bottled sunshine.


Pickling less-than-ripe peaches is a fun way to carry the season forward. Pair them with rich cheeses or meats, and keep a puckery token of summer close at hand.

It doesn’t have to be summer to pickle red onions. This pretty pink condiment is universally beloved—and versatile—and takes just minutes to make.

Bright, floral shiso grows abundantly at my Hudson Valley cottage, and a way to manage it wholesale is to make this aromatic, punchy condiment. It pairs excellently with so many things, from eggs to roasted meats, to beans, to noodles.


A boatload of mushrooms becomes lush, meaty fare for your next brunch or lunch, and bonus, the recipe is vegan.

Toss together a few summer stars, some punchy aromatics, and a handsome piece of fish and make confit. Its low-lift / high-return combo makes for easy enticement, plus, the leftover infused oil creates the foundation for future stews, rice, and pasta.


Whether it’s basil, spinach, arugula, or garlic mustard, whip up a quick riff on pesto to manage a glut of greens.

An impressive volume of summer squash collapses after processing with a box grater, producing a lovely riff on summer sauce.

Throw together a quick, fresh tomato “sauce” with the best of summer’s herbs and tomatoes, and add it to everything.


Got armfuls of fresh berries? Make compote, a rustic preserve that is perfect spooned onto ice cream, spread on toast, to top overnight oats or yogurt, and even stirred into cocktails.

Combine puckery flavors used in pickling and fruity sweetness for a new take on jam. Voilå a surprising, delightful spread you’ll want to slather onto everything.

Tools to Help You Preserve:

More from Food52

How will you be preserving summer? Let us know below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • luvcookbooks
  • Melina Hammer
    Melina Hammer
Melina is the author of 'A Year at Catbird Cottage' with Ten Speed Press. She grows an heirloom and pollinator garden and forages wild foods at her namesake Hudson Valley getaway, Catbird Cottage. Melina loves serving curated menus for guests from near and far seeking community amidst the hummingbirds, grosbeaks, finches, and the robust flavors of the seasons.


luvcookbooks August 25, 2023
In my freezer: rhubarb and cherries (sweet and sour). In the frig: cherry jam, strawberry red currant jam, black currant syrup, bourbon peach sauce.
Melina H. August 28, 2023
Birds of a feather! Doesn't it feel so satisfying to put up the seasons? I want the recipe for your red currant jam :)
luvcookbooks August 28, 2023
I’ll post it. The currants helped the raspberries set up.