Summer offers a plethora of berries and fruits that are both healthy and tasty. However, sometimes nature's bounty provides more than we can eat. Even at the best roadside stand bargain price, the produce costs too much if it's thrown away. That's why finding ways to put summer's surplus to good use before it spoils is crucial.
Berries can be frozen in the traditional manner. Spread berries on a cookie tray and place them in the freezer until frozen. By spreading them on the cookie sheet you keep them separated during the freezing process. Then, transfer them into a typical freezer bag.
However, you can be more creative in your frozen fruits. Try pressing the berries and filling ice cube trays with the frozen mash. Then, throughout the summer and early fall, drop the berry flavored ice cubes into drinks for exciting bursts of health and flavor. Items like cherries can be frozen in their original form on a tray and dropped into drinks without being ice cubes. A frozen cherry is a tasty treat!
Research some quick bread recipes and choose one that you like. Then, add the leftover produce into the bread and bake. These loaves can then be wrapped in freezer bags and saved for the holidays, or they can be distributed to friends just after baking. Good additions to the breads would be sliced peaches, diced rhubarb, sliced apples, or whole berries.
Adding some of the summer's fruits and vegetables to your daily diet is a healthy choice. It's also an alternative to preserving them in the traditional canning or freezing methods. Mix a batch of meatloaf and add shredded zucchini and carrots to the mixture; then freeze it for later nor eat it now.
Another idea is to try rolling a few pizza crusts. Layer them with the traditional sauce and shredded cheese. Then, add the summer's bounty to the top to create a supreme pizza with the works. Sliced tomatoes and green peppers make an interesting and refreshing combination. Skip the sauce and make a white pizza with broccoli and spinach topping. Be creative with whatever you can find at your produce stands or in your backyard garden. Pizzas can be frozen in a large plastic bag if needed. They make great quick meals during months when the vegetable toppings are too expensive to add.
While you're adding to what you already have, try ice cream. Either make your own ice cream adding berries during the process or add them to the vanilla ice cream you purchased at the store. Either way, you can purchase the store brand vanilla (or add cherries to chocolate for an even more interesting combination) and add fresh fruits to make a yummy treat! Peaches, cherries, strawberries, blueberries; there's no end to the options.
Smoothies are great ways to enjoy the fresh tastes of fruit, but they can be stored for later as well. Whip up a batch of your favorite fruit smoothie using all of the fruits available this season. Then, pour the smoothie mixture into plastic drinking cups and place the cups on a level shelf in the freezer. When the mixture starts to thicken, push popsicle sticks into the mixture in each cup and continue to freeze it. You'll have smoothie popsicles later in the season. (Once the mixture is frozen you can remove the disposable cup and store in a sealed plastic bag.)
Of course, adding extra servings of fruits and veggies to your daily diet won't hurt. Why save everything for later; enjoy it today while it's at its freshest.
I saw a fantastic article last week about making fresh berries last a little longer before going mouldy - apparently the trick is giving thema very quick bath in near-boiling water - see link
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