What happens when we get too much produce? How do we prevent it from going to waste?
A few weeks ago the co-op was able to provide much more than 40lbs of produce for each share and we came home with more food than I knew what to do with!
I sat for a while on Saturday morning coming up with a quick game plan for how to handle all the extra food that I knew would go bad if I didn’t preserve it right away. I did a few minutes of research and realized I could preserve everything we couldn’t eat in a few days in the freezer for later use.
Here’s what we had:
We chopped and diced and sliced for what seemed like all DAY! Then we froze everything in batches and have been using a little bit at a time with great results!
green peppers – I diced them and spread them in an even layer for freezing. When they were completely frozen I simply gathered up the wax paper and dumped them into a few quart size freezer bags for storage.
bananas – I sliced them for use in oatmeal and smoothies and spread them in a single layer on a cookie sheet on wax paper and placed in the freezer for several hours (about 3.5) until frozen through. I then collected these in quart size freezer bags for storage.
spinach – I had 2 lbs of spinach, and I was a little concerned about it! I took a risk and opted not to blanch it before freezing it but instead chop it and freeze it raw. It’s been working great. We only use it for cooking, but that’s primarily all we would have used the fresh spinach for anyway. I simply placed the dry, chopped spinach leaves in a gallon freezer bag and can easily grab what I need. (The key is they were very dry when I froze them).
peaches and apricots – I sliced these and froze these like the other produce and placed them in a quart freezer bag.
I was so excited to have this accomplished at the end of the day!
I recommend that you do some research before assuming a food can’t be stored in the freezer. We’ve been amazed at what we’ve found (my spinach for instance). Here’s some other helpful links and resources:
- Real Simple’s quick summer produce freezing guide
- Quick tip sheets to download here and here
- The Dollar Stretcher’s guide to where and how to store various types of produce
- Preserving the Harvest a wonderful book that I will be keeping close at hand