When you shop in bulk for produce like I do, creativity is a must. You need to ask yourself, “how do I eat carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers,” etc . . . And remember when you buy large quantities, how vegetables cook down. Thirty pounds of apples only yielded 7 quarts of chunky apple sauce. Here are some ideas for using up bulk quantities of fruits and vegetables.
Cucumbers – Refrigerator pickles, canned dill/bread and butter pickles, relish, cucumber smoothies.
Sweet Bell Peppers – Roasted bell peppers, dehydrated peppers, sliced, diced, chunked peppers for the freezer. I make stuffed bell peppers and freeze uncooked. Use peppers in antipasto spread. Use as ratatouille ingredient for freezer/canner. This summer I’m experimenting with canned marinated peppers.
Tomatoes – Dehydrated tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes in oil, tomato powder, roasted tomato sauce for freezer (will can some this year too). Use in antipasto relish, and salsa. Ingredient for ratatouille for freezer/canner. I buy 6 pound 6 oz cans of tomatoes from Costco for $3, so I’m still not sure if I should can tomatoes. Am planning a cost/time analysis.
Corn – Dehydrated corn, canned corn, corn to freeze on and off the cob.
Cabbage – Sauerkraut, frozen shredded cabbage, frozen slaw, canned slaw, cabbage casseroles for freezer, dehydrated cabbage. This year I’m experimenting with canning a cabbage and beef mixture.
Berries – Frozen berries for snacks and smoothies, jam, unbaked pies for freezer, canned pie filling, fruit leather, flavored vinegars. This summer I’m going to experiment with pickled strawberries.
Apples – Dehydrated apples, unbaked pies, canned pie filling, canned in chunks, canned applesauce & apple butter, frozen for smoothies. This fall I’m going to experiment with pickled apples.
Eggplant – Eggplant Parmesan, eggplant lasagna and stuffed eggplant for freezer. Ingredient for ratatouille for freezer/canner.
Zucchini/yellow squash – mock apple cobbler for freezer, zucchini lasagna and stuffed zucchini boats for freezer. Ingredient for ratatouille for freezer/canner. Sliced and shredded for freezer. Shredded, then dehydrated. Zucchini bread for freezer. This summer I’m going to try and can summer squash, although it isn’t recommended by the government for canning. Something about they lost their proof it’s not safe?? I’m a rule follower with canning guidelines, but with this one, I’m not concerned in the least bit. Everyone has to make their own call, however. Will also experiment with canning mock pineapple using summer squash.
Peaches – Frozen for smoothies, unbaked pies, canned honey spiced peaches, peach bbq sauce, peach salsa, canned peaches in light syrup, fruit leather, dehydrated cinnamon peaches. I’ll make jam as well, which I will use as a base for some Asian dishes.
These are just some of the things I have preserved in the past, and will preserve this year as well. Before I can each year, I’ll take inventory of what’s in my pantry. My family doesn’t eat that much jam, so one canner full of jam will last 2 years. This year I’ll be making jam and experimenting with different combinations. I made antipasto relish three years ago, and we just finished the last jar last winter. I’ll be making more this year.
There are many ways to preserve your produce, so have fun, and get creative. At the end of fall, my freezers are packed and my shelves, stocked. It slowly dwindles as the year goes on, which makes space for my new bounty starting in the spring.
Buy those canning jars and lids, get your dehydrating trays washed up, and be excited for a creative season of preserving!