Today’s Question of the Day: What would you do with 50 pounds of fresh produce?
Eat it? Freeze it? Dehydrate it? Blend it?
Whatever you do, I think we can all agree that the goal should be to not waste it, right?
I should give myself a disclaimer that I didn’t intend on buying 50 pounds of produce. It sorta kinda just happened. I went to the farmers market, checked out the “last chance” table and my arms just started reaching for bag after bag of fruits. Strawberries, peaches, nectarines… a honeydew for 50 cents?! I grabbed it. A cantaloupe too? I grabbed that too.
My little basket was full before I knew it and I had to get another for the “fresh” food I had intended on buying.
It wasn’t until I unloaded it all onto my kithcen floor that I realzied that I had A LOT of food.
I knew right away that I would dehydrate the melons. Both were very soft and wouldn’t last long in the fridge. I planned on deyhrating at least one batch of strawberries and guessed I do the same with the peaches too. I just assumed we’d eat the bananas in our smoothies.
I started with the strawberries since I figured they could get easily stepped on and wouldn’t last long at room temperature (and there wasn’t any room in the fridge). After going through a handful or two of berries, I realized that there were many that weren’t soft. Many were in the perfect condition to be eaten in the next week or so. So I started categorizing the berries according to their soft spots:
- ok to eat now (no soft spots)
- ok to dehydrate (1 soft spot)
- need to puree (2 or more soft spots)
I did this for all 15 pounds and yielded:
- one very large bowl of strawberries for the fridge
- two blenders full of puree, frozen into 78 ice cubes and then dumped into gallon bags
- four rows filled in the dehydrator, resulting in five 1oz servings
- 1/3 of a sheet pan filled with whole strawberries, flash frozen and stored in a quart bag
I did the peaches next, also because they could get squished and weren’t going to fit in the fridge. They looked great in the bag, but many were very, very squishy once I started pulling them out. I salvaged what I could (basically cut up what wasn’t squishy) and put them in the dehydrator.
I did what I planned to with the cantaloupe and honeydew. Each melon was sliced thinly and put in the dehydrator.
There were more bananas than I realized in each of those bags. I knew we’d put them in our smoothies, but I was afraid they’d go bad before we had a chance to consume them all. I chose five that seemed “the worst,” cut them into large chunks and flash froze them. I also thinly sliced 5 more bananas, soaked briefly in a honey/lemon pretreatment and dehydrated them.
The spinach went into smoothies. No brainer.
The potatoes, carrots and celery are left and those will be used for smoothies, dinner vegetables and a possible loaf of spiced carrot bread.
So what did I end up with in the end? Fresh produce, frozen fruits, dried fruits and fruit that’s ready to go in the blender. I could, if I was feeling adventurous, take the pureed strawberry cubes and add them to sparkling water, or thaw and make strawberry freezer jam. I was also thinking about muffins with puree or even puree as an oatmeal topping. Actually, the more I think about it, the more ideas I come up with!
In addition to the strawberry yield I just mentioned, I have (2) bags of dried peaches, (3) bags of dried cantaloupe, (3) bags of dried honeydew, (2) quarts of frozen banana chunks (which may end up being dipped into chocolate and covered with nuts or sprinkles!) and (5) baggies of dried bananas. I have the baggies in a tupperware container on the counter so both the kids and I can see them. I’d much rather those be the snack of choice than a nutritionally lacking cracker (which the Girl LOVES). Oh, and I still all this fresh for snacking too: