Dealing with a vegetable glut

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.

Make pickles, jams and chutneys. They are surprisingly easy to do. Courgette pickle is especially delicious and here’s a good recipe for apple chutney from Nigella Lawson.

– 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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8 Responses to Dealing with a vegetable glut

  1. Christine says:

    The John Rowles song "If I only had time" comes to mind here. Done the peas, done the garlic, have a glut of carrots to freeze tonight. I\’m not sure that it\’s frugal this gardening lark what with having to own a freezer, use the cooker to prepare the glut for the freezer, bought containers to store stuff in ….. And that\’s on top of the cost of seeds, fertiliser, tools and all the 101 other things needed on an allotment or in a vegetable garden. On the other hand if you are considering food miles, whether you want organic and knowing what pesticides are involved and the time spent growing vegetables rather than going out spending money then it probably all evens out.

  2. Anthony says:

    sell them to neighbours, and strangers, afterall , u can sell them cheaper than the supermarkets and still make a profit. it will help pay for the fertilisers for next year.

  3. Christine says:

    Unfortunately for me Anthony, I rent an allotment for growing vegetables and the rules include not selling produce. The rules are to discourage market gardeners and people wanting to make a living out of the produce. Allotments are strictly supposed to support a family in food. Hmm.

  4. David says:

    Best thing to do with vegetables is compost them : you get all the pleasure and exercise growing them, but you don\’t have to bother doing anything but eating what you (and anyone else) can, AND you get loads of compost for growing the next lot. It\’s what Muvver Nature does after all. Saves a lorra bovva. Arf arf.

  5. Bill says:

    Supermarkets sometimes donate large quantities of bread & other bakery products, also dairy products, on the sell by date, to our local charity, for use in cookery lessons, the product of which is then sold for peanuts to assist in financing the charity. Some of the product is also given for free to those in need.Sadly, we receive little or no meat or fish, & extreme little fruit or veg. We would gladly take any surplus fruit or veg as donations, not only to improve the cookery education, but equally to improve the diet of those in need. It would also improve the lunches of some charity personnel, who pay £1/day for these lunches, when available. David, why compost the most healthy part of any diet, if you have a suitable charity within handy reach?On the continent, many large restaurants donate all their surplus hot food to local charities at closing time each day, to assist the charities with helping the poor & homeless.

  6. David says:

    Same old problem, Bill : unless someone altruistic takes the responsibility of taking in produce and redistributing it at zero cost, stuff gets wasted. The old mechanism was The Market – not in the sense of the virtual capitalist market, but a real live local gathering where folk brought food in and sold it. And as with "Whoopee" shelves in yer supermarket, poor folk could buy up what was left at the tail-end of the day. Food waste is one of the Great Big Scandals of our age, and I can\’t offer a solution Bulk production is always going to result in waste, and as I said, if at least it\’s composted, some good comes of it.

  7. Bill says:

    I can still yet remember the old B\’ham Bull-ring, a pre-war market hall of fairly large proportions, courtsey of Hermann Goering & Co. it lost it\’s roof during the war, but care of the local Bulldogs, mostly market traders & their local punters, it was up & running, possibly next day, as they did most things back then. It never did get a replacement roof, as I oft went shopping there with my Granny in the dim & distant 50\’s.The "new age" stalls, were typical of London, or even Calcutta barrow boys, each with their own private roofs, mostly tarp\’s, but obviously had no modern technology, such as cash registers, \’phones or fridges. Equally obvious, without refrigeration, or other modern overnight storage, late afternoon, the stall holders would sell up as much as possible, at whatever price reduction, in an attempt to minimise losses. The elderly & infirm, as also other afflicted, were able to pick up fantastic bargains by waiting until the stall holders were "cleaning out". There were many war wounded, both "Vets", as also civilians, many of whom lived in local slums, way into the 70\’s. In those days, local public transport, owned & run as a Social Enterprise by the city corporation, was extreme efficient & economic, much more reliable than today.We have modern technology to blame for the loss of this specific form of "altruism", which, back then, made tremendous sense to all concerned. It was also possible to haggle with the individual stall holders, as necessary. They, themselves, understood these things, they were also poor working class, working extreme long hours, against equally extreme competition, just to scratch a living. But at least they had a certain measure of Freedom, the modern supermarket is a sweat-shop in comparison.I still yet miss the smell of wet fish, & fresh meat, the bakers, & also the inviting smell of the barrack hut in the corner of the building, which served as the market "canteen", serving large mugs of tea, & full English breakfast, as also tea & fresh baked scones, from long before the crack of dawn, until the last trader cleaned up & went home. Despite the fierce competition between them, the traders, as also their punters, were a large, happy familly. May be something good did result from the carnage (Blood-Sport), which the politico\’s call war.

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