Reaping the Summer Bounty of Food
By Patrice Powers-Barker, OSU Extension, Lucas County
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
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
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
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
firstname.lastname@example.org 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.