Use your freezer to preserve summer’s harvest

Did you use your FNS/SNAP benefits to grow a garden of fresh herbs and vegetables this summer? Or did you use your benefits to stock up on summer staples at the farmers’ market?

 

Summer has come to an end, but your kitchen may still be overflowing with your summer harvest of basil, tomatoes, okra, peaches, and squash! This certainly is a good dilemma to have, but you’ll want to use or preserve these items soon, so they don’t go to waste.

 

One quick and easy way to preserve foods is through freezing. Just think, in the middle of the winter it will be nice to have peaches to mix into oatmeal or bake into a cobbler or tomatoes to use in a sauce or stew.

 

Are you ready to start freezing your summer bounty? The National Center for Home Food Preservation is a great resource to get you started. Click here to find specific instructions for freezing a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.

 

You should also check out this article from the News and Observer – Save your produce: How the freezer makes it easy to use summer’s bounty.  This article includes creative ideas to preserve herbs, like mashing the herbs into butter and saving in tubs in the freezer. There are also several recipes to use up your surplus of tomatoes, basil, zucchini, and chilies. You can find one of the recipes below, but click here to read the article and see the other recipes.

 

SMOKY TOMATO PUREE

Prep: 5 minutes Cook: 10 minutes

Makes: about 4 cups

 

Use this coarse puree in tomato sauces, chili and stews to add a smoky fresh tomato flavor.

 

1 cup mesquite or hickory wood chips

 

4 pounds perfectly ripe small round tomatoes

 

1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Prepare a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium hot. Soak wood chips in water for 15 minutes or more. Add drained chips to hot coals if cooking on charcoal. For gas grills, place drained wood chips on a piece of foil set directly over the heat source.

 

Arrange tomatoes on grill directly over the heat. Cover and grill, turning once or twice, until skin is slightly charred and blistered on all sides, about 10 minutes.

Transfer to a baking sheet.

 

When cool enough to handle, coarsely puree tomatoes (skin and all) with salt in blender or food processor. Pack into small freezer containers. Label and freeze up to several months.

 

Nutrition information per 1/2 cup: 37 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 8 g carbohydrates, 2 g protein, 156 mg sodium, 2 g fiber

 

If you’re interested in other ways to use fresh produce check out these blogs: What’s in season and National Peach Month.