By: Debra Loder, RDN, Wickenburg Community Hospital
As spring approaches, those of you who garden may start thinking about what you are going to plant this year. Having home grown fruit and vegetables during the spring and early summer months not only helps with your grocery bill, but is also nice to have produce freshly picked from your own garden. It is fun to know that you helped fill the plates on your table.
However, maybe you have an excess of a particular fruit or vegetable that you want to be able to enjoy later in the year. With a little planning, you can enjoy those sunny flavors for months to come. Here are a few ways to stretch your spring/summer bounty.
- Dry It – a low oven temperature concentrates the flavors of your fruits and vegetables.
- Freeze It – this is probably the easiest way to save your season flavors, while some produce requires pre-cooking, most can be frozen as is. Tip! If you have the space, spread your fruits and vegetables on a baking sheet and freeze before portioning into bags.
- Can It – canning can be intimidating at first, make sure you have the right size jar for produce, and sterilize the jars to prevent food born illness. For your extra fruit make jams and jellies you enjoy throughout the year.
- Pickle It – can be done the traditional fermented way, or you can do the quick refrigerator version.
Once you get the hang of it your spring and summer vegetables will be available throughout the year.
Whichever version you choose, preserving your produce to enjoy for the remainder of the year is a great way to keep eating healthy, and delight in all the spring and summer flavors you worked so hard to grow.