3 Easy Ways to Make the Most of Summer’s Bounty of Fruits and Vegetables

by Gina Blitstein · 0 comments

Summer brings a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Whether you grow some in your own garden, buy from farm stands and farmers’ markets or take advantage of the variety and lower prices at your grocery store, there’s an abundance available. Frugal folks use this yearly opportunity to get fresh produce while the gettin’ is good.

While it’s great to have an abundance, the challenge is to make the most of this bounty of produce, enjoying it as long as possible. The fact is, you can rarely consume all that you have and when you’re facing yet another bushel of tomatoes or you’re up to your eyes in strawberry shortcake, you may find yourself wishing for some alternatives to using it all right now.

Let’s explore some practical things to do with fresh produce so you can make the most of Summer’s bountiful produce:

1. Share it

Before you plant your garden, talk to your neighbors, friends or family who grow produce and coordinate what you plant so you can share your harvests. When the gardens start producing, give away some of your tomatoes in exchange for some of the other gardeners’ zucchini and green beans. Then no one is inundated with more of any one thing than they reasonably can use.

2. Plan for it

Search out recipes and different preparation methods for those fruits and vegetables you anticipate having in abundance. A fresh approach will make eating the same fruits and vegetables more appealing.

Here are two outside-the-box ideas for zucchini I’ve come across:

  1. Using a machine called a spiral slicer which makes long ‘spaghetti’ strands out of zucchini, it could be cooked and served as pasta, rather than grilled or sauteed.
  2. Shredded zucchini can be added to recipes as diverse as cheesy casseroles, quick breads and chocolate cake, adding moisture and nutty flavor.

3, Freeze it

Vegetables

The key to well-frozen vegetables is blanching. Blanching is a process of briefly plunging clean vegetables, cut to the desired size, into boiling, lightly salted water, then removing them to an ice bath until cool. Boil one gallon of water for each pound of vegetables. Blanch vegetables between 1 and 2 minutes, depending on how quickly they normally cook. That is to say, one minute for quick-cooking vegetables like broccoli and two minutes for longer-cooking vegetables, like green beans. This process locks in the nutrients and color. Spread the cooled vegetables on paper towels to dry. When they’re completely dry, place them on a baking sheet in a single layer and freeze. Once frozen, place in freezer bags or containers and store in the freezer.

Fruits

Fruits don’t need to be blanched before freezing. As with vegetables, wash, slice as desired, dry on paper towels, freeze in a single layer on a baking sheet, then transfer to a container and store in the freezer. Frozen fruit is best served while still partially frozen.

For fruits that tend to turn brown when sliced, like apples or peaches, treat them first with an ascorbic acid wash. Ascorbic acid is simply Vitamin C and is available in grocery and drug stores. To make an ascorbic acid wash, dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of ascorbic acid in 3 tablespoons water. Sprinkle this mixture over the cut fruit, then proceed as above from drying.

Prepared foods

Anything you make with your fresh produce, from spaghetti sauce to baked goods can be frozen for later use, further extending the life of your produce.

Without the specialized equipment and knowledge necessary to preserve produce by canning or dehydration, these tips will help you to enjoy Summer’s bounty to the fullest extent.

Bonus Tip:

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