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Reaping the Summer Bounty of Food

By Patrice Powers-Barker, OSU Extension, Lucas County
Guest Column

Even if you are not a gardener or farmer, if you’ve watched the weather on the news in 2019 you probably know that it has been an extremely hard year for farmers in Northwest Ohio to grow their crops, especially in relation to the very wet and cool springtime season.

While there is little to cheer about for those who make their living from crops like wheat, soybeans and corn, from the perspective of a fruit and vegetable grower, things are looking a little better at this time of year. For those who grow their own gardens, belong to a Community Support Agriculture or shop at a local farmers market or farm stand, it’s a delicious time of year. For some crops, like blueberries, a wet springtime was welcome weather. The berries right now are wonderful.

Joining a CSA, growing your own vegetable garden or buying fresh produce at the farmers market may be fun yet challenging, as an abundance of fresh produce may feel like too much food sometimes. Meal planning is one way to help avoid food loss. Many cookbooks focus on local, fresh, seasonal eating. The local library may be a good resource as well as a local bookstore for cookbooks on seasonal eating.

Prepare simple meals that can be changed up depending on the current produce. Determine certain “go-to” meals that can be made quickly and without much planning. Meals such as stir fry, omelets and veggie pizza are convenient because they can be made using a wide variety of vegetables depending what is available.

Want to keep it cool? Many vegetables can be washed, sliced, or shredded and added to either a salad or a favorite slaw recipe.

Review the types of available produce and plan two to three recipes per expected item. There will be multiple uses for everything in the box so have several options for that week in case there is more than expected. Vegetables can be used in a variety of dishes. Tomatoes can be used in spaghetti sauce one night, salsa for nachos, bacon lettuce and tomato sandwiches for lunch, and bruschetta for an appetizer or snack.

Substitute new or unfamiliar vegetables for your familiar vegetables in favorite recipes. For some people, vegetables such as kohlrabi, chard, and fennel may seem intimidating at first, but the more you research, the more you will find that many vegetables can replace or complement other more commonly used vegetables. Try adding shaved kohlrabi into slaw recipes or substituting lettuce with a mix of kale and chard.

Some weeks might have an overabundance of veggies. Look at the selection of vegetables and determine which ones should be used sooner and which ones can store for a longer period of time. For example, in the springtime share, a box might contain lettuce, spinach, other greens and radishes. The lettuce, spinach, and delicate greens should be used within the first couple days of harvest.

The radishes, as well as other root vegetables like beets, carrots, parsnips, and turnips can be stored in the refrigerator crisper one to two weeks if the green tops (leaves) have been removed. Start with eating salads and then decide how to enjoy the root vegetables in the near future.

A summer selection of garden vegetables might include zucchini, eggplant, and peppers. The eggplant is best used right after harvest. Eggplants do not like cool temperatures, so it is recommended to refrigerate them only one to two days before they start to develop soft spots. Summer squash like zucchini, yellow squash, and patty pan store well in the refrigerator for two to three days but peppers store well in the refrigerator crisper up to two weeks.

In addition to planning the timing and storage in the refrigerator, some people might have enough produce to consider long-term storage. Home food preservation like canning, freezing, or drying offers enjoyment of the local produce throughout the entire year.

For safe home food preservation, use reputable, up-to-date sources like the National Center for Home Food Preservation or Ohioline fact sheets for recipes that are validated for safety. Canned food must be properly processed the correct amount of time for a safe product. It is important to remember that many vegetables must be pressure canned. Water bath processing is generally used for high acid fruits, tomatoes, and pickles. Following a recipe from the sources above will help ensure the correct process is used. If you have any questions about home canning please contact Patrice at powers-barker.1@osu.edu or call 419-213-2022.

With some intentional planning, lots of summer vegetables can offer much enjoyment and many benefits for everyone in the kitchen and at the table. This information taken from OSU Extension Factsheet titled Using a Community Supported Agriculture Share to Plan Family Meals at ohioline.osu.edu.



Copyright © 2019 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 08/08/19 19:33:46 -0400.

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