Wednesday, January 16, 2013
For the past year our family has steadily moved in the direction of eating real food. Sounds revolutionary doesn't it? "Real food" is simply food our grandmothers would recognize (possibly our great-grandmothers if your grandmother's favorite food is a chili dog from the Varsity like mine) as opposed to the packaged food that lines the shelves in the middle of the grocery store. Real food is the stuff on the edges of the store: the milk, the produce, the meat.
As we've moved in this direction, I found it simple to bake my own cookies instead of buying them and to make other former pantry staples (chicken broth, pancake mix, pumpkin puree). But consuming more fresh produce was frustrating at the start. I loved the farmer's market this summer and went each weekend, often coming home with a big crate of peaches or tomatoes...but I found myself throwing lots of produce to the chickens because I just didn't know how to use it all up before it went bad.
And while I've given canning a whirl...it isn't second nature. So I started keeping a list of what I've found to do with produce that's overabundant or past its prime. I'm now ashamed by how much I formerly threw away. Feel free to Pin It and use this list as a reference for the future. And leave a comment if I've left something out that you have a great solution for!
Apples - make crockpot applesauce (then freeze), bake into apple pie (then freeze), also dehydrate well
Avocado - cut it up and freeze (stays beautifully green!)
Bananas - freeze whole, either with or without peel. Use frozen in smoothies, defrost and mush for baby food or for use in banana bread/muffins.
Berries - make freezer jam, flash freeze for smoothies or baking, make homemade fruit roll-ups
Clementines/oranges/tangerines - bake into sunshine muffins, zest and freeze the zest
Cucumbers - slice and add to ice water for a refreshing twist
Grapefruit - make grapefruit olive oil cake, zest and freeze
Lemons/Limes - freeze the zest (you can throw an already juiced lemon or lime into the freezer as is and pull out later for zesting!)
Pears - roast for dessert, homemade fruit roll-ups
Pineapple - chop and flash freeze, add to smoothies
Stone fruits (peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots) - bake into cobbler (then freeze), homemade fruit roll-ups
Watermelon - make granita
Bell Peppers - chop and freeze for easy stir-frys or fajitas
Butternut Squash - make Butternut Squash applesauce
Carrots - save tops and ends for homemade chicken or vegetable broth (can dehydrate if you have a machine and store up to 6 months)
Celery - just like carrots, save tops and ends for broth
Kale - make kale chips, add to smoothies, blend with a bit of water and freeze in cubes for instant smoothie add-in
Onion - save ends and skins for homemade broth, dehydrate
Pumpkin - make pumpkin puree, freeze
Spinach - add to smoothies, blend with a bit of water and freeze in cubes for instant smoothie add-in, sauté slightly wilted spinach for easy side dish
Squash/Zucchini - grate with cheese grater and freeze. Throw in pasta dishes or zucchini bread from frozen.
Tomatoes - make tomato paste.