Garden season is coming on into full force and we are loving it. Did you see our garden update that I posted earlier this month? If you've been following my facebook page you may have seen the harvest pictures that I've been posting once in a while. Gardening is great. We love it. Especially the harvest.
One of the questions I get asked a lot is what do I do with all of the produce from the garden. We grow a big garden and obviously for a family of four, there is more fresh produce than we can use at the time it ripens. For the last nine years we've been learning tips and tricks to use the produce in the garden. Using what you have is one of the great ways to live a frugal life. Today I'll share a few ideas with you and then I'd love to hear any that you have to share with us.
What to do with Garden Produce:
Eat them raw - This is probably the most popular and quick way to use up garden produce. Much of it can be eaten raw. I always am finding my kids out in the garden with fistfuls and mouthfuls of tomatoes or beans fresh from the garden. There are so many good vitamins and minerals that are found in fresh vegetables that will not be present after it is cooked. Salads are a delicious way to eat lots of raw vegetables. We love to have build-your-own-salad dinners where we serve a variety of vegetables and let everyone put together their own salad.
Steam, roast, grill, or broil them as a side dish - When steaming vegetables, you place them in a pot with a lid and a little bit of water and heat on high until the water boils and steams. Turn down the heat and let the vegetables steam in the water until the vegetables are tender. The time will vary depending on the type of vegetable. Roasting vegetables is also easy and delicious. We mix them with a bit of olive oil and season them. Then cook them in the oven at a high temperature (450-475 F) until tender. Roasting really brings out a delicious flavor. You can also cook them on a grill or under a broiler after mixing with oil. Here are a few recipes to get you started:
Add them to baked goods - We love shredding or blending up garden produce to add to delicious baked goods. Not only does it add moisture and flavor, but also lots of healthy nutrients. Here's some of our favorite recipes:
Add them to sauces - Vegetables are delicious in sauces. They add texture, health and delicious flavor. Try these recipes to help you get started:Creamy Spinach Pesto Alfredo
Creamy Squash Pesto Alfredo
Pumpkin Sausage Penne Pasta
Spaghetti Squash Carbonara
Pizza Sauce with Dried Tomato Powder
Add them to soups - Garden vegetables make soups extra homey and delicious. Definitely a favorite way of ours to eat them!
Blend them in a smoothie - We use a lot of fresh garden greens in our morning green smoothies.
Freeze them - Freezing works great for extra produce. Here's some tutorials on a few of our favorites to freeze from the garden:
Can or bottle them - We do a lot of canning or bottling this time of year. It's a busy time, but a fun time. I love the sight of freshly canned bottles sitting on the counter. It's so beautiful and satisfying to see. Here's a few of our recipes to get you started:
Dehydrate them - I also dehydrate a lot this time of year. I especially love to dehydrate my tomatoes and grind them into tomato powder to use in sauces. It's such an easy, wonderful thing. We love to eat dried fruit as a snack all year round. Dried pears are probably our favorite.
Use them in a Recipe - We have lots more great recipes to use this time of year that use lots of veggies from the garden. Here are a few of our favorites.
Spaghetti Squash Lasagna
Spaghetti Squash Lasagna
Give them away - Last but not least, we give away a lot of produce to family, neighbors and friends. I like to find people that I know can use it and love it. In fact I'd rather give our excess produce away so someone can enjoy it fresh, rather than just preserving it all for us for later. We have a lot of neighbors that share with us the produce that our garden isn't producing right now and we love it too. I'm a firm believer that neighbors and friends should share and give their excess instead of letting it go to waste.