As others mentioned: freeze berries and soft fruits for jams and all the tomatoes you plan to juice/sauce. Canning them over the winter helps keep the house warm, too. If you're keeping your dehydrator running 24/7, do the things that don't take long (herbs, greens) as the first batch of the day, then put in the things that take longer (tomatoes, peppers, etc). Depending on your timing (and weather), you should be able to do two batches of greens in the dehydrator and still have time for something bigger overnight. If you dehydrate things like shredded zucchini, carrots, or beets, use a food processor to do the shredding for you (provided you have electricity and that's the route you want to go) and then freeze them. They can be thawed and dehydrated later without appreciable loss of quality or nutrition. Also batch-prepping stuff for multiple uses can be a great help when it's going to all be processed in a reasonable timeframe--like, saving a week's worth of peppers, then washing/ cutting up all at once. In the same vein, do all your chopping and pre-measure into individual containers for each batch. Like, when I do salsa, I typically have enough to do two batches at a time. One I make medium-hot and one I make mild, but all the ingredients are basically the same. I use dollar store iced tea pitchers (the kind with oz/ cups marked on the sides) to measure my ingredients (wet and dry measuring cups are the same by volume anyway; this isn't something that requires the precision of 100% exact, level measurements like baking does). I chop up all my peppers and distribute them between the pitchers, then the rest go in a bowl to be dehydrated. I might can one batch of salsa that same day and do the other the following day, do both right away, or put both off. At least it's one step done for multiple projects.
For canning, the more room you have to work, the better. I keep my jars and utensils on a cookie sheet lined with a tea towel so I have a modular set-up I can move out of my way until I need to use it. According to the newest canning guidelines, you don't need to scald your jars or even keep them hot--thoroughly washed room-temperature jars are safe when processed correctly, so even if you store them in the oven to keep them out of the way while working, you don't have to turn it on (which is a boon in the height of summer). The only issue may be breakage/ cracks with jars if the temperature difference is too great (liquids capable of being heated past 212*, like sugar syrups, might be marginally more risky, especially if the ambient temp is cool and/or there are strong drafts). Also remember that high-acid foods (jams, jellies, chutneys, salsas, pickles, etc.) that aren't water-bath processed won't last as long, may not properly seal or (even worse) create a false seal. Yes, they do still use older preserving methods in Europe and around the world, including open kettle canning, but people still get very sick from them when they do go bad. A little mold might not kill you, but it changes the pH so that bacteria can grow; in some cases, that
can kill you. My feeling is this: if I'm going to put out the time and expense (even if the food is free, the energy, jars, and lids are not, nor is my labor) of preserving something, I want to take all precautions I can to ensure I'll be able to eat the food and that it won't make me sick. (Sorry, I'm kind of a crusader on proper canning practices and I tend to evangelize.)
I think if you're looking for ideas on set-up for a preserving room, start by doing an image search for variations of "farmhouse summer kitchen" to see what kinds of set-ups might make sense in your space/ for your work style. YouTube resources: Fouch-o-matic Off Grid, An American Homestead, and Our Half-Acre Homestead all have variations of outdoor summer kitchens; the first two are off-grid and OHAH's is not. It's been a while since I watched any YouTubes, so I'm blanking on any others, but I know there are more. Another thing you can look up is how industrial kitchens are set up for workflow. And, if you're ever near Lancaster County, PA, there's a place called the Jam & Relish Kitchen in Intercourse (yes, it is the town name) that has an observation window into their canning kitchen so you can get an idea of how they do it. It might even be on YouTube, I haven't checked.
You know how you work and what kind of help you can expect to have, so I would start with that. Assembly-line is always faster and more efficient than one person working in three square feet of space. Make sure everyone who's going to be working can come to agreement about the set-up, though; if you have one person who doesn't intuit the logic of the layout, it might waste more time than it saves. Every two years, my parents buy 100 ears of corn (we don't have the land
to grow sweet corn, nor the sunlight, sigh) to freeze. We have the process streamlined now, and it's the biggest single food preservation
project we do (I do all my canning without help, it's just easier for me). The key to making it work for us is setting up the stations the night before, and taking short, frequent breaks (I need to step away from the hot stove, someone else needs to uncramp their hands from repetitive motions, plus it evens things out so there are no bottlnecks in the flow). Because of the way the burners are set up on the stove, I need to work backwards to what's intuitive to me, but it's a minor thing. I use the canner to blanch the corn, then it goes into a stock pot of ice water, then into a waiting dishpan to be moved to the kitchen island where my dad uses an electric knife to cut it off the cob
. Everything falls onto a cookie sheet, which is emptied into a either a large bowl or a stock pot (we keep two or sometimes three cycling once we get going). Cobs go into a tub on the floor (I use some of them for corn stock, but most just end up on the compost
pile). When the bowl is full, it goes over to the kitchen table, where my mom is in charge of bagging, tagging, and sealing. We've used quart-sized sandwich bags and vacuum sealed in the past; I actually prefer the Ziplock because the corn is so wet that it's nothing but problems for the Foodsaver. All those bags get arranged in a box, then go down to the basement freezer. From shucking to freezing, it takes three of us about four hours (though, with all the Foodsaver problems last year, it took us over six because we had a bottleneck at the end). I also did some experimenting with dehydrating (which was a win, because I love stewed dried sweet corn, it's a regional thing) and oven-drying, so my routine next year is probably going to change in the end step to accommodate loading dehydrator trays.
That also reminds me: Cookie sheets are your friend. The big aluminum half-sheets are the best- sturdy and with lots of surface area. Put one under a cutting board and it catches all the juice so you're not constantly wiping countertops. They make handy transport for any odds and ends to be shuttled between stations. Line them with a towel and fill your canning jars on them; unload the canner onto one (again, towel-lined; works as insulation and helps with slippage) so you can get the cooling
jars out of your way (though try not to move them until the seals pop or, for pressure canned food, as long as you can realistically wait for the liquid to stop boiling in the jar--the longer the better.). Dump your dehydrator trays onto one before packaging instead of fooling with trying to bend the screens or pick each piece off individually. In that same vein, dollar-store dish pans are invaluable if you're not opposed to plastic and ick. They're great for washing things, carrying things, and they're a good shape and size for holding a large volume of stuff without taking up a larger footprint
than necessary. Restaurant bins (either plastic or stainless steel) would probably be just as good (though more expensive and harder to find, depending on where you live) and, if they're the ones with lids, you can just pop them in the fridge. And they stack, which is also a big bonus.
If you're a person who works most efficiently from lists and schedules and outlines, make one. You'll probably have an idea of what you'll be harvesting at least a week ahead of time, so make a list of each crop and the expected yield and how long it will keep in the fridge/ cellar/ countertop, then decide what you want to do with each of them, then write out the steps for any and all of the methods of preservation you choose. I'm very poor with time management when it comes to event planning (and let's face it, preserving a lot of food at once is an event), so I often make a loose list of the steps I need to take to get things done so I don't get overwhelmed. It also allows me to find chores I can combine to save time, or things I can schedule to happen concurrently ("while jars are in canner, wash pot salsa was in"). For some people it's just intuitive or routine to do this stuff, but for others it isn't, and doing dry-runs, even on paper, can help.
And one last bit of advice for big, ongoing preservation projects: CLEAN AS YOU GO. If you dribble, wipe it up. Finished with a bowl? Wash it right away. Don't leave everything until the end of the day; it's overwhelming and terrible and no one likes cleaning. I say this because I'm bad at practicing what I preach, but I'm trying to get better. If you have the room to have a dish pan or container of soapy water handy, it just makes everything so much easier.