Elyssa, Tomball Volunteer, hold an armful of seasonal vegetables from the summer harvest.

How to maximize the Season’s Harvest

If you aren’t accustomed to shopping from local farms, the transition is…different. When you are a grocery store shopper, you can find a recipe, go to the store for your ingredients and get everything in one location. (Usually.)

When practicing Seasonal Eating, you receive an ingredient, THEN figure out what to do with it. The ‘unknown’ factor of it all can be slightly intimidating. But, I’m here to tell you, it’s easier than you think!

Seasonal Eating also includes having an abundance of one thing at a time so learning how to maximize the harvest is essential.

After years of trial and error. I’ve learned the following tips and tricks that I think will help you, too!

1. Use Proper Storage.

As soon as you get home, store your produce. Don’t rinse it. Don’t throw it aside and expect for it to keep itself.

Wrap leafy greens and delicate things in a paper towel and choose air tight storage,

I live in Houston, TX and it is SWELTERING here. You’ve never seen the kind of bugs we have here. That being said, I store EVERYTHING in my refrigerator.

Certain things will store longer. (Think potatoes, onions and root vegetables.)

There are a variety of ways to store your vegetables so I recommend finding a way that works best for you and your budget.

Storage Bags. Plastic, Airtight containers. Glass.

2. Think Veggie Forward.

How often do we plan our menu around the ‘main’ or the ‘meat’ portion of our plate? We often think of the chicken over the broccoli. Or, the beef over the kale.

When you can begin to make your veggies the star of the show, you will start finding more diversity in your meals. (And, much more flavor, too!)

Start with one of the following achievable goals:

  • Commit to eating one or two vegetables per meal.
  • Commit to eating (7) different vegetables per day.
  • Commit to preparing (1) vegetable you don’t like in a new way.
  • Commit to eating one meal MEAT FREE per week.
  • Commit to eating one day MEAT FREE per week.

Add to and increase your goals as you transition into a more Plant Forward Mindset.

This is a sticker that we sell for $5. It is black with a hand-scribbled flower peace sign, a black background and Give Plants a Chance in green letters. The sticker also mentions Flourishing Fern, The Flourishing Times and the Farm to Kitchen Collective.

3. Rotate Weekly.

On Sundays, I take a few minutes to see what I have on hand and what needs to be used (sooner and later!)

I line the fruit and veggie drawers with paper towels to help with the absorption of condensation, which can lead to molding. So, on Sunday, I check the paper towels, assess if they need to be changed and I wipe down any veggies that may be a little damp.

I always check my ‘root cellar’ vegetables to see if I need to order and onions or potatoes from the co-op. I, then, plan my weekly menu around what I have, using what’s close to expiration early in the week, or in a batch of Soup or broth on Monday.

The 10 minutes you send on rotating your weekly produce will help you keep a watchful eye on your food before it expires and keep your farm veggies top of mind at the start to each week!

4. Preserve your harvest.

There are so many ways to use your veggies. Boil, Broil, Roast, Fry, Air-Fry, saute…but, learning to preserve your goods can guarantee summer veggies in the dead of winter.

Each year, I spend a Saturday afternoon to can a case (or two!) of tomatoes. It’s a habit I developed one year when I had 30 pounds of tomatoes that needed a home. One winter of being spoiled with canned summer tomatoes and I was hooked.

Then, I pickle! Pickling isn’t just for cucumbers, either. I’ve pickled green beans, squash, cauliflower, okra, cabbage and carrots.

Another AMAZING (and EASY!) method of preservation is the dehydrator. I ask everyone at the co-op if they have this magical kitchen gadget and 95 percent of the time, it’s a resounding NO.

But, let me tell you some of the amazing things you can do with this WILD cooking gadget:

  • Dehydrate Tomatoes and powder for a cheesy substitute.
  • Dehydrate spinach and powder to add a boost of greens to eggs, smoothies and popcorn.
  • Dehydrate green beans for a crunchy summer snack.
  • Dehydrate peppers to use in dips and winter soups.
  • Dehydrate onion as a replacement for store-bought spices.
  • Dehydrate potatoes for a crisp snack & chip alternative.
  • Make Kale Chips & Bell Pepper Candy. (Enough said!)

I received my dehydrator as a Christmas gift. It was the BEST $30 my MIL ever spent on me!!

(And, trust me, she had bought me some AMAZING herbal books!)

5. Use your Resources.

There are ENDLESS resources out there.

You could go down a rabbit hole looking for recipes for days. (Seriously.)

We have created a Pinterest Board and Facebook community that are tailored specifically for you and your Farm Fresh Finds.

You can find our Pinterest page here. It has TONS of recipes for you that we have personally tested (or, created!)

6. BONUS TIP: Soup is your -NEW- weekday BFF.

Every Monday, I make a big pot of soup. Sometimes, it’s just broth, sometimes, its creamy.

It’s always different and it’s ALWAYS constructed around the veggies on deck to expire.

I, actually, call it junk soup. I make ‘junk soup’ and enjoy it, daily, for breakfast and/ or lunch!

You can follow us on Instagram to see our weekly version of Leftover Soup.

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