Making the Most of Local Produce
Special to The Truth
Fresh, local produce is in
its prime, making now the perfect time to take part in the
farm-to-table movement. Whether you join a community
supported agriculture (CSA) group or shop at your local
farmers’ market, it’s easy to taste the elevated flavor
profile of just-picked fruits and veggies.
Make the most of the
season with these tips for storing, cooking and savoring
Plan, Prioritize, Prepare
Plan what produce you will
purchase ahead of time. Many farmers’ markets and CSAs
distribute eNewsletters or flyers that highlight what’s
available. You can also search for seasonality charts in
your region to get an idea of what items are at their peak,
and plan accordingly.
Once you’ve shopped,
prioritize your goods. Use tender greens and any ripe fruits
and veggies right away. Roots, bulbs and squash tend to last
longer and can be saved for later in the week.
Next, properly store
produce to help to extend its life. If fridge space is
limited, consider cooking down greens by either partially
boiling or sautéing prior to putting them away, depending on
what recipes you’ve selected for those items.
Smoothies, Sauces, Soups
Smoothies are a delicious,
easy way to pack a lot of produce and nutrition into a meal.
And if you’re processing the toughest whole foods, like
dark, leafy greens, be sure to use a high-powered blender
such as the Ascent Series A3500, which offers five program
settings, including one for smoothies. A recipe for the
“Everything Smoothie,” which incorporates a wide variety of
produce found at your farmers’ market, is available at
Take advantage of tomato
season, preparing pasta sauces to enjoy now or freeze for
those months when they aren’t readily available from local
growers. Try adding red and green bell peppers, and even
carrot shavings, to boost the nutritional value of a veggie
Soups make use of veggies
now and later. Warm weather calls for cool concoctions like
gazpacho or cucumber dill soup. A cabbage soup that combines
hearty potatoes, onions and carrots can be made for cool
fall nights or stored in your freezer for winter.
Use it Up
Remember that nearly all
parts of produce are usable. Vegetables like beets, carrots,
kohlrabi and turnips have edible greens that make an
excellent addition to morning smoothies or a nutrient-rich
stir-fry. Compost any remaining scraps.
Don’t be afraid of bruises
or dents. Greens with slightly wilted leaves can be blended
with a bit of water and frozen in ice cube trays for future
use in soups or smoothies. If you see a great deal on fruit
like strawberries or cherries, buy them and combine with
sugar and pectin for an easy freezer jam, or dry them out
for on-the-go snacks.
Shopping for whole foods
at farmers’ markets or joining a CSA is an opportunity to
help local farmers and explore your culinary interests. The
availability of specific fruits and vegetables ebbs and
flows; capture each at its peak to enjoy the bounty
throughout the year.