Summer Produce To Harvest Before It’s Gone
Whether it’s from your backyard garden, a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, or the last farmers’ market, your produce is replete with ripeness right now! But summer is fleeting and soon you may have trouble finding healthy greens, yellows, and reds even under the bright, neon lights of the grocery store. Now is the time to get your fill of your favorite summer fruits and veggies before they disappear: Here’s how to harvest them to the max today, plus ideas on how to winterize (and enjoy!) them for the rest of the year.
Corn is synonymous with summer sweetness. For now: Corn is best as soon as it leaves the stalk, so don’t let it linger in the fridge. Also, try recipes that call for kernels off the cob like this southwest corn and black bean salad. For later: Corn on the cob is possible in January. First, blanch the ears for six minutes then freeze them in a plastic freezer bag. Later — say, during a polar vortex — just steam for six minutes and serve.
Summer squash is, after all, called summer squash. For now: Harvest frequently (they’re a productive bunch) and while the squash is still on the smaller side. Also, try out all of the varieties in the entire summer squash family. For later: Bake some zucchini bread or muffins and save some of that buttery flavor in the freezer for fall or winter mornings.
Sliced in everything from drinks to salads and sandwiches, cucumbers are summer’s favorite veggie accessory. For now: Bigger isn’t better. Instead, focus on finding firm, bright, and even-colored cucumbers that are four to six inches long. For later: Chunks of frozen cucumbers make the perfect garnish for cocktails year-round. Just peel, cube, and freeze until needed.
Be sure to take advantage of frost-sensitive herbs like basil and sage, which will disappear with the winter temps. For now: Look for stems that are as fresh as the leaves. For later: Freeze dry leaves in a single layer overnight. Then, place herbs in sealed containers in the freezer to use in recipes like post-workout smoothies. (Note: This is also cheaper — and healthier — than bottles of dried herbs!)
Finally, pretty much anyone will agree that nothing says summer like a good, juicy tomato. For now: Help tomatoes ripen by placing them in a brown paper bag. For later: Place whole, unpeeled tomatoes in a plastic freezer bag and sock ‘em away in the freezer. When you need some homemade tomato sauce, briefly thaw out the bag under hot water. Then, rinse the tomatoes directly under hot water for a few seconds or until the skin can be peeled off.
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