Cooking and eating seasonally straight from the garden or farm can initially be a bit of a challenge… That because it’s very different from the typical supermarket experience!
So here are some quick tips on how to eat fresh food:
1. REVERSE MENU PLAN
Most of us usually plan a menu, write a shopping list, and then buy our groceries. That’s because we cook from the recipe, not from its’ ingredients.
With fresh cooking, it helps to start from the opposite direction, planning your meals after you know what is available for harvest either from our own garden or through your farm. By doing so, you are cooking with what’s in season which is a healthy habit.
An easy way to do this is to ask, “What can we make for dinner?” rather than, “What do I want for dinner?”
2. LEARN HOW TO STORE PRODUCE PROPERLY
A lot of people avoid fresh food all together because of the chances that it has in going bad on them before they can use it. How disappointing though because these people are missing out on the fantastic flavor of fresh foods, not to mention all of the nutrition that fresh food provides.
It’s not difficult to learn which produce likes to be stored where and giving yourself some time and room to practice this without becoming frustrated and overwhelmed with waste is key.
Letting food go bad happens to everyone, so don’t feel guilty, just keep trying!
3. GET THE RIGHT TOOLS IN YOUR KITCHEN
Whenever you set out to do a job, you’ve got to have the right tools in order to be successful, and that is no less true in the kitchen.
The tools don’t need to be fancy, novel, or expensive, they just need to be quality enough to get the job done right. Freezer bags, ice cube trays, a good chef’s knife and cutting board, a sheet pan, skillet, and preparation bowls will help you in your preparations.
If you don’t already own one, consider investing in a Salad Spinner. They run around $20 and can easily wash and rinse large batches of lettuce which can then be stored inside the spinner, in the fridge, so you can grab a few handfuls with each meal. The spinner will keep them crunchy and fresh all week long!
Other great tools to save for and have is a food processor, a slow cooker and/or an electric pressure cooker. These tools are versatile and will help you prepare a number of different recipes.
4. PRESERVE IT
Learning how to preserve the bounty of fresh produce is crucial. Often times there is no reasonable way to eat everything coming out of your garden or provided in your Farm Share box without preserving some of it for later consumption.
Freezing, pickling, dehydrating and canning may be helpful options, depending on your space, time and skills. You can freeze foods both raw or after they’re cooked. For example, zucchini can be shredded and frozen to be made into bread later. Or even better, make zucchini and rice soup or loaves of zucchini bread and freeze those for quick and easy meals later. Extra herbs can be dehydrated and enjoyed later in the season when they are no longer growing.
Later on, during the late fall, winter, and early spring, when fresh foods aren’t available, you’ll thank yourself for having the foresight to preserve freshness. 🙂
5. WRITE IT DOWN
Ever opened the crisper drawer of your refrigerator to find a limp head of broccoli you meant to add to a recipe last week? It happens to the best of us whether purchasing at the supermarket, eating out of your own garden or from a Farm Share.
One way to avoid that is to put a whiteboard or notepad on the fridge to keep track of what’s on hand as a reminder to use them in our meals throughout the week. As you use the produce, you can simply cross them off the list!
Bonus tip: Ask your Farmers!
The recipe options for the offerings in your Farm Share are just about limitless, yet with so much going on in our busy lives, finding new and creative recipes can seem like just another task on your to-do list.
Rather, ask your farmers for more recipes and preparation ideas. Nothing gives us more pleasure than having you enjoy what we’re working so hard to produce, so we’re more than willing to offer suggestions, find recipes, etc. if you start feeling like you’re in a rut.