This summer we have been slowly reclaiming our garden one bed at a time.  For two years it was sadly neglected while we cared for two young special-needs foster boys. We literally planted a garden one spring and then didn’t step back into it until those boys left our home almost 2 years later.  Their needs were too great.

Have you let your garden go to rack and ruin?  Don’t give up…it is never to late.  We hope to accomplish much this fall and winter so we are better prepared for spring next year.

I am amazed at how much food we have harvested from the few beds we have recovered!

We are now in the process of pulling up spent summer plants and planting our fall garden. Yesterday I worked on the last of the peppers.  Here you can see bell peppers in various colors, pimento peppers (that I use to make pimento cheese), cayenne peppers , habanero peppers, Jimmy Nardellos and a few hot banana peppers.

I kept a few bell peppers for fresh eating but sliced and vacuum sealed the rest for stir fry and Mexican meals this winter.  I call this dry canning – but the proper name is vacuum packing or sealing. It is quick, easy and doesn’t involved the time, heat and water used in regular canning. Here is a huge bowl of sliced bell peppers in all colors!

You can see the vacuum packed bells in the back of this picture.

I also save seeds from my peppers as I process them. Saving pepper seeds is very easy and saves money. I never have to buy them!  Just make sure you label them since almost all pepper seeds look the same!

I chop my pimentos and keep a frozen container in the freezer.  When I want to make pimento cheese, I just take out a few spoonfuls.!

This is my Foodsaver vacuum sealer.  This was given to me by my mama. It is new to me but over 20 years old and still going strong.  I use it with bags, jars and even some special canisters made for vacuum sealing.  We use this every week.

Buy food in bulk?  Divide it into smaller portions and seal for a long life.  We do this with nuts, rice, beans, herbs, pasta and even meat and cheese!  Of course the meat and cheese go into the freezer after vacuum sealing.  This helps prevent freezer burn. We save a lot of money by taking advantage of great sales. We buy in bulk when items are on sale and then divide the food into smaller portions and vacuum seal them.

In the Amazon canning resource list on the right, you will find both a vacuum sealer and all of the attachments that I use.  Although you can’t get my model anymore, they have sealers now that take up less counter space and have more options.  You can see a variety of vacuum sealers here also.

You won’t believe the difference in meat that has been vacuum sealed.  I was so glad, a few years ago, when our butcher began vacuum sealing our meat instead of wrapping it in freezer paper. The “shelf life” of food both in your pantry and in your freezer greatly increases when you vacuum seal.

I’m always looking for new ways to use my Foodsaver.  What foods do you vacuum seal?