This is my favorite month, full of a variety of Palisade peaches, Olathe corn, Hatch chilies, Rocky Ford melons and berries, berries, berries.
Last night was purely wonderful! My supper consisted of two cobs of roasted sweet corn, milk, slices of orange and red bell peppers, a large, juicy Palisade peach (thanks, 4-H fundraiser) and a few raspberries and blackberries. Tonight, those green chilies are calling but they are just going to have to share the plate with melon and, of course, a couple of cobs of corn.
At this time of year, the fresh produce is so enticing it is easy to over-buy. My fridge is full, and the freezer could feed a family of four for months. As a country, we throw away half the food we purchase and one-third of the food we produce. I reviewed a Pinterest reminder on ways to reduce, reuse and recycle and felt it was worth incorporating a few ideas. One site says "refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot," though efficient "reduce, reuse and recycle" might reduce the need for "refuse and rot."
Here are some helpful thoughts.
If throwing away produce on a weekly basis, rethink your purchases. Though fresh produce results in healthful eating and snacking, it isn't helpful if ends up in the trash. Do you use the FIFO (first -in, first out) plan for your fridge? Is the snacking produce easy to reach and ready to grab?
Write a weekly meal plan and have a purpose in mind for each item in the fridge. How will you use that large bag of salad mix or bag of carrots? Ever use Japanese eggplant? Plan the recipe you will use before you are tired and hungry so you have the necessary ingredients ready to go. How much produce can you sincerely use in a reasonable time? I have to remind myself of this - one can only eat so many peaches or melons or make just so much banana bread with overripe bananas. Before fruit gets too ripe for preferences, freeze them to make smoothies, fruit syrup or jam within one week.
Using the chopper/dicer for vegetables within a day helps to package them during the week for lunch or in supper recipes. Lately there are handy recipes to package meals and ingredients into freezer meals with the oil, seasonings and meat combined and ready for crock pot or stove. Quite handy for supper!
Product packaging is becoming a significant annoyance - lots of wasted space, packaging and trickery. Grains and food items do well in air-sealed containers, so try buying foods from bulk bins and storing them in glass jars. It is also easier to see what you have and when you might need to refill. Nuts, seeds, oatmeal, rice and pastas are fresh in the bulk section and less expensive per pound. One is able to dispense exactly how much needed of specific items so less product packaging and less waste.
Air-tight, resealable containers preserve produce well, as do the green or pink produce bags formulated to control moisture to prevent deterioration.
One of the easiest ways to use vegetable scraps is to make soup in a crock pot. Leftover bread and heels make great croutons or breadcrumbs.
When the winter snows hit, there are other areas of the home to deal with, but for now, my kitchen and pantry are doing much better.
For more information, call the Colorado State University Extension Offices in Montezuma County: (970) 565-3123 or Dolores County: (970) 677-2283.