Offer food prep supplies to your gardener

Tomato squeezers and sauce makers turn ripe garden tomatoes into a seedless, skinless sauce in a snap.

Give a gift that helps your favorite gardeners enjoy the flavors of their garden long after the growing season is over.

Beginners and experienced gardeners alike often spend their gardening budget on plants and seeds, leaving little or nothing to invest in food storage equipment and supplies. Prepare your favorite gardener for the upcoming harvest season with food storage supplies and equipment.

Canning jars, freezer containers, spice cubes and airtight bottles for canning, freezing and storing dehydrated herbs and vegetables are always welcome gifts. These supplies are useful throughout the harvest season and are often in short supply when food preservation is at its peak.

Most gardeners grow their own fresh herbs and drying is the easiest way to preserve the crop. Simply gather the stems together, secure them with a rubber band, and hang them in a warm, dry place. As the stems dry and shrink, so does the elastic, keeping the stems in place. Use a spring-loaded clothespin to secure the herb bundles to wires or another support. Create your own drying setup or invest in one of the commercial herb dryers.

If space is limited, your gift recipient will appreciate a system like the Stack-it Herb Drying Rack ( that allows them to dry lots of herbs in a very small footprint. The drying system you purchase or create should provide the necessary space for harvesting and allow sufficient air circulation for rapid drying.

Herbs with high moisture content like basil, oregano, lemon balm and mint will mold if they don’t dry out quickly. If this has been a problem in the past, try placing a small bouquet in a paper bag with holes in the side and stems outside the bag. Hang them on a drying rack or speed up the process by using a microwave or food dehydrator.

Many gardeners grow onions, garlic and potatoes for long-term storage. These three vegetables prefer cool, dark storage places with good air circulation. Separate the potatoes from the onions which give off pungent gases which can alter the flavor of the potatoes.

Avoid plastic bags, which retain moisture and can shorten the shelf life of these vegetables. Breathable potato and onion storage baskets have been used by gardeners for centuries. Enhance style and space savings with the Stackable Bamboo Storage Basket with Lid. Just stack it as needed and place it on the rolling base for easy storage and accessibility.

Help your gift recipient turn their harvest into something delicious. Fermentation is a relatively simple preservation technique that has been used for thousands of years. Save some of your cucumbers as pickles, some cabbage as sauerkraut, and berries as fermented preserves.

For most projects, you only need fruits or vegetables, water, salt and spices. The desired ingredients are placed in a covered container such as a stoneware pickling jar. Weights are used to keep fruits and vegetables submerged in water throughout the fermentation process.

Consider smaller fermentation kits for those with limited space. A three-liter glass jar with an airtight lid and ceramic weights will allow you to ferment small amounts of vegetables.

Melinda Myers is the author of over 20 gardening books, including Small Space Gardening and Midwest Gardener’s Handbook, 2nd Edition.

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