We are currently in the peak season in many areas for fresh summer produce. Popular options that are available in abundance at local farmers markets, produce stands, and home garden produce include: tomatoes, squash, zucchini, peaches, watermelon, eggplant and berries. Some benefits of eating in-season produce and local produce are:
- Fresher produce has more nutrient content;
- Fresh produce tends to be cheaper in price during its normal growing season and;
- Produce that is eaten in season has more flavor than produce that is grown and eaten in the off season.
Having a variety of options like this can make it easier to eat more vegetables and fruit this time of year, but all of the choices can be overwhelming. Here are some tips for keeping you produce, fresh and tasty.
A Few General Guidelines
- Do Not Store Fruits and Vegetables Together. Fruits that give off high levels of ethylene (the ripening agent) can prematurely ripen and spoil surrounding vegetables. (Think of the “one bad apple” adage.)
- For Vegetables: Before storing, remove ties and rubber bands and trim any leafy ends. Leave an inch to keep the vegetable from drying out. Make sure the bag you store the veggies in has some holes punctured to allow for good air flow. Pack vegetables loosely in the refrigerator. The closer they are, the quicker they will rot. Leafy greens can be washed before storing by soaking them in a sink full of water, while soft herbs and mushrooms should not be washed until right before they are used.
- For Fruits: Non-cherry stone fruits, avocados, tomatoes, mangoes, melons, apples and pears will continue to ripen if left sitting out on a countertop, while items like bell peppers, grapes, all citrus and berries will only deteriorate and should be refrigerated. Bananas in particular ripen very quickly, and will also speed the ripening of any nearby fruits.
Recipes Ideas for Seasonal Produce
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
- 4 zucchini, quartered lengthwise
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a cooling rack with nonstick spray and place on a baking sheet; set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine Parmesan, thyme, oregano, basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper, to taste.
- Place zucchini onto prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan mixture. Place into oven and bake until tender, about 15 minutes. Then broil for 2-3 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown.
- Serve immediately, garnished with parsley, if desired.
Nutrition Information (per serving): 151 calories, 11 g fat, 7 g carbohydrates, 7.5 g protein, 3 g sat fat, 219 mg sodium
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Yield: 7 servings (one serving is 1 cup)
- 2 cups finely chopped tomatoes (about 3/4 pound)
- 2 cups finely diced honeydew melon (about 3/4 pound)
- 2 cups finely diced cantaloupe (about 3/4 pound)
- 1 cup finely diced mango (about 1 medium)
- 1 cup finely diced seeded peeled cucumber (about 1 medium)
- 1 cup finely diced nectarines (about 3 medium)
- 1 cup fresh orange juice (about 4 oranges)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped Vidalia or other sweet onion
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and chill at least 2 hours.
Nutrition Information (per serving): 95 calories, 0.5 g fat, 23 g carbohydrates, 2 g protein, 0.1 g saturated fat, 189 mg sodium.
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