A FEW YEARS AGO, I WAS LUCKY ENOUGH TO LIVE NEXT DOOR TO THE ICONIC QUEEN VICTORIA MARKETS IN MELBOURNE.
They had every type of fruit and vegetable you could possibly want, straight from the farmer, as fresh as fresh can be, and oh so cheap!
I remember buying a box of richly perfumed mangoes for $4, huge bags of cooking apples for $1 and sauce tomatoes could get down to 80c a kilo!
I could get our week’s worth of vegetables for about $12 - and we were absolutely spoiled for choice!
It was during this time that my love of cooking really flourished, and I learnt so much – so much more than I realized at the time - just by talking to the sellers and trying different things.
These days, I get given buckets of seasonal fruit and veg from friends and family who've grown them, or if there’s something amazing at one of the local Farmer’s Markets I’ll just buy a box - then think about what to do with it later :)
At the moment I’ve just been given a big box of strawberries (as you can see!), and I bought heaps of beautiful sugar snap peas at the market last weekend.
So today I thought I’d share my top ways of using up a seasonal bounty!
1. Jams. Who doesn't love it on their toast for breakfast? Jam is so simple to make, and makes a great present for Christmas too. Watch out for my Jam post coming soon!
2. Ditto for chutneys. There are so many types of chutneys and relishes, you’re sure to find one to suit you – and they make a very elegant hostess gift with a loaf of fresh bread and a little wheel of brie.
3. Stewed fruits. Spiced and sweetened, or left plain and simple, these are great to make and freeze so you can enjoy them for months. We like them on their own with yoghurt or icecream, and they’re also lovely served hot on porridge.
4. Pies, tarts, strudels and crumbles. While you’re doing up some stewed fruit, why not make a few desserts to put in the freezer too? These will all freeze well, and are especially handy when you have unexpected guests.
5. My husband’s a big fan of fruit smoothies (I'm sure it’s just so he can eat ice-cream for breakfast...). I often puree fresh fruit in the blender and freeze it in small portions so he can quickly one up before work.
6. Drying fruits, in a dehydrator or low oven, is also a great way to store a bountiful harvest for later on. Dried fruits can be added to so many things, as well as being a great snack on their own. And the kids will love it if you make them fruit leather too!
7. Canning or pickling fruit and vegetables – you can easily make these at home, and they’re just like you buy in the shops.
LOVE THIS POST? CHECK OUT MY SERIES OF LEMON RECIPES, STARTING WITH THIS ONE!
8. Snap freeze produce. Just freeze in a single layer on a tray, then transfer into snap seal bags. This is great for anything you would normally buy from the freezer section in the supermarket – beans, peas, corn, berries etc.
9. I like to make a big batch of soup when we have lots of fresh seasonal veges. We generally have it for dinner, and I’ll freeze the rest in meal sized portions – it’s our standby lunch in cooler weather.
10. Quiches and frittatas also freeze really well and are great for lunches. I like to add a spoonful of corn flour to the egg mixture if I know I’m going to freeze it – this just helps stabilize it through the freezing/defrosting process.
11. There are heaps of recipes for cakes and loaves that will help you use up your seasonal bounty. Carrot cake is the absolute classic, but apple cake, zucchini loaf and chocolate beetroot cake are also well known and loved.
12. If you steam, then puree vegetables and store them in the freezer, you can sneak them in to lots of meals without fussy
13. Homemade sorbet is a great alternative to icecream for dessert, and if you make it yourself, you’ll be able to adjust the sugar content to your liking.
14. Tomato and barbeque sauce. I grew up on homemade tomato sauce, and it’s vastly different to the commercial one – if you’ve never made it, give it a try – there’s nothing like it.
15. Sundried tomatoes can be made just as you would dry fruit with a dehydrator above – and they’re so versatile. I add them to anything from risottos to salads to pastas and stuffings. If you choose to store them in oil, try adding different herbs and spices to each jar for variety.
Ok! So that was quite a list!
Hopefully you've now got heaps of ideas for next time you have a huge supply of seasonal fruit and veg!
It’s also mighty useful for me to use up all those sugar snap peas and strawberries… I’m thinking pecorino and pea frittata… a minted strawberry sorbet… strawberry and vanilla crumble... hmmm...
What are your favourite ways to use up an abundance of fruit and vegetables? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below.
All the best,