July 25, 2015

What To Do With All Your Garden Produce

Garden produce often comes up in droves, which can overwhelm the gardener. Give it away when you don't think you'll use it all in time.

Garden produce often comes up in droves, which can overwhelm the gardener. Give it away when you don’t think you’ll use it all in time.

While in Boulder culinary school, you may be lucky enough to have access to a garden to grow some of your own food this summer. You’ve probably planted a plethora of produce, from potatoes and onions to tomatoes, broccoli and even squash. It never fails to amaze the gardener when all of a sudden a ton of veggies start popping up. It can even catch you off guard just how much you now have to eat. Here are some things to do with all that food once your garden gets going:

Store it properly
It’s really a bummer when you’ve picked something tasty from the garden and it ends up going bad because it wasn’t stored properly. Always make sure your crisper or container is devoid of moisture (and even consider adding a dry paper towel to soak up any condensation) before leaving leafy green or other veggies in the fridge. This will help them stay fresh longer. It’s best to wash items like lettuce and spinach to remove any dirt before storing them. You may want to separate leafy items so they do not go bad simultaneously, and try to pick veggies as you’ll eat them. Bringing a ton of them into your home doesn’t mean they’ll get eaten. If you can leave the produce in the garden a few more days, that will allow you to eat your way through what you have inside the house before getting more. Consider your garden to be your grocery store – only go when you run out of food.

Try canning
Sometimes a lot of one kind of veggie will be ready to eat at the same time. This is often overwhelming and can lead to the produce being neglected and going bad. Don’t let this happen. Instead, learn to can veggies. This will allow you to not only keep the fresh items you’ve worked so hard for, but you will even be able to devour them in the wintertime when your garden is no more. Canning is simple and doesn’t require many tools or any kind of expertise. You’ll just need containers and a large pot to boil water in. You can also try pickling, which is another great way to preserve the abundance of produce you have now and save it for later.

Eat it raw
Are you looking to get the most nutrition possible out of your many garden products? You’ll want to eat most of it raw. There are a few vegetables that actually become more healthy for you when they are cooked, like spinach, kale, mushrooms, tomatoes and carrots. They offer more antioxidants when they’ve spent a little time in heat. Otherwise, you can always head to the garden when you’re feeling hungry and start munching away at your favorite produce. It’s also easy to toss together a salad with any sort of lettuce or chard, or even make a quick potato salad to use up some of your root vegetables. Use your culinary school knowledge to whip up something great!

Give it away!
When you’re faced with a lot of produce and you just can’t manage to eat it all yourself, opt to give some away. Chances are, your neighbors, family and friends will all appreciate a fresh head of lettuce or some tasty tomatoes. If you’ve rally got a ton of veggies and don’t know what to do with it, you can always donate it to a local food shelf. Just be sure they accept items that are not packaged. Some churches will also take these items and use them in dishes for the congregation or donate them to people in need.