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Harvest and Beyond: How to Make Seasonal Produce Last Longer

LIKE OGP ON FACEBOOK :

I live on a property with no less than seven mango trees, and when the season starts, the amount of produce my wife and I deal with on a daily basis is far beyond what we can eat. It’s far beyond what we and the volunteers on the farm can eat. It’s so overwhelming that the thud of every mango causes us all to wince: Another one!

Whatever complaints we have, we do our best to gather and distribute as many mangoes in as many places as possible. We cut them up for breakfast fruit, experiment with “ice creams”, make smoothies, dehydrate them and toss up summer salads. We make crumbles and cakes and bake enough to share with the neighbors. Even after giving bags away, we can’t seem to keep up with the harvest.

While our situation seems unlikely for most folks, it really isn’t. Nearly everywhere, the year is full of seasonal fruits and vegetables that can, for a month or two, be bought incredibly cheaply at your local farmer’s market. While the harvest is in, make sure to eat your fill, but certainly don’t forget to stash some for later.

Because here’s the thing: It won’t be long before those trees stop dropping mangoes, and it’ll be another year before we get them again. Knowing this, we also make sure to preserve them for later on in the year, when we aren’t sick of mangoes. In fact, we probably save more during the season than we eat. Here’s how we do it:

Can

Jams are easy to make, basically requiring only fruit and sugar (if you even want sugar). We simply cook the mangoes down on low heat and can it for a no-sugar-added jam that’ll feed us for months to come. Of course, mango jam is but a blip on the jam register. Any berry, apples, citrus, grapes, apricots and all sorts of fruit make good jam. Find what’s cheapest at the time. You can also get funky with salsas, pickles and chutneys. Try this Tremendous Papaya Salsa recipe and this article on How to Make Your Own Vegan Jellies and Jams Without Gelatin.

  • Tip: Mangoes are not particularly known for sweetness, yet our jams are sweet enough for our tastes. Despite what recipes say, you may not need so much sugar. Here’s a great webpage for beginning canners.

Dehydrate

Our dehydrator is on all day and night during mango season, and we snack on the dried fruit all the time. It’s our version of candy. In fact, just about everyone that visits us get addicted. Again, mangoes are just one thing. Loads of fruits and veggies are great snacks when dehydrated. Dehydrated veggies can become great homemade cup-of-soups.

Freeze

We have bags upon bags of mangoes in our freezers. While you may not have similar space (we have a chest freezer and three others with fridges), you do have room for a couple of bags of something. Frozen fruit makes for great smoothies and breakfast additions. You can make natural popsicles, stock cubes or vegetable mixes.

  • Tip: We use our frozen mangoes for ice cream. Blend a couple of cups with half a frozen banana, and it’s a creamy, raw dessert. Works with lots of fruits. Here are some other frozen recipes from One Green Planet.

Preserving food yourself isn’t just about eating those mangoes in January. It’s healthier because you control the recipe, allowing you to use GMO-free, all-organic ingredients. It’s more economical because you can buy whatever produce is in season or, especially, the stuff from the about-to-go-bad shelves. And, it’s satisfying, knowing you’ve not wasted, helped preserve not just the food but the world and created something delicious, even if all you did was freeze some cut up mangoes. 

Image source: Leslie Seaton/Wikimedia

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