It’s that time of the year again when the home grown vegetable plot starts to come into its own. Our garden looks lush and abundant, with large dark leaves of foliage and flowers everywhere hiding mouth-watering crops of fruit and veg. Already we are being inundated with potatoes, courgettes and cucumbers and the tomatoes are colouring up, so very soon we will be picking them.
This is all fine and dandy, but if you’re not careful the produce soon mounts up. And even if you were canny and did your level best to stagger the planting so that your crops are ready at different times, you can still end up with mountains of veg you can’t eat quickly enough. Some vegetables, like potatoes and squash, can be stored easily but others have to be cooked or frozen.
Here are some great ways to deal with a veg or fruit glut:
– Freeze your way to a veg stash for the winter. Blanche and freeze beans and peas and place them in freezer bags ready for colder days. Many fruits, such as blackberries and blackcurrants, also freeze well. Piers Warren’s book How to store your garden produce also has some excellent tips on preserving and freezing your veg.
– Make up some hearty home made ready meals for those winter nights when you won’t feel like cooking. Use up your excess soft veg such as courgettes and tomatoes in chillis, spag bols, lasagnes, soups and vegetable stews. There is a great book called What will I do with all those courgettes? which will also give you some pointers.
– Use excess tomatoes to make up your own tomato pasta sauces or passata, or combine with courgettes to make a ratatouille.
– Many potatoes will store well in hessian sacks kept in a cool dark place, such as an understairs cupboard. But if you are trying to work your way through some, consider making gnocchi (Italian potato dumplings) or dauphinoise potatoes as an alternative to potato wedges or boiled potatoes. If you’ve also got a glut of tomatoes, gnocchi go very well with a good spicy tomato sauce. Mash will also freeze.
– Consider drying your vegetables too, which is what canny gardeners did for years before freezers were invented. Many fruits and veg, including herbs, tomatoes, beans, apple slices etc. can be dried to store more easily or you can make fruit leathers by drying a thin layer of fruit puree.
– Be adventurous and try some unusual recipes – we tried courgette tempura recently (courgettes in batter) and it was out of this world.
– If all else fails, chop up some of your veggies and fry them with chopped onion with some soy sauce and use as a filling for pancakes.
– If friends have a glut of other vegetables why not do a swap?!
Got any other suggestions for using up a glut of vegetables? Leave a comment and let me know.
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