Is your veggie garden flourishing with the recent good balance of wet and hot weather? Are you finding it a challenge to make sure you are not wasting? Are you determined to use every single kale leaf or cucumber slice – for the sake of both the planet and your wallet? The internet is full of wonderful and often complex preserving techniques and recipes. But if you are pressed for time, here is a short list, in no particular order, of some of our favourite quick tips:
- Wash, pat dry and freeze fruit like berries and grapes in a single layer on a baking tray. This stops them sticking together in one solid mass. If you plan to bake with the frozen berries, why not pair them with some washed and chopped rhubarb before freezing? Citrus and mangos can be sliced first. Once they’re frozen, transfer to a suitable container.
- Mason jars are great in the freezer with their wide mouths and thick walls.
- Beetroot can be peeled, steamed or boiled before freezing. Then use them for dips, smoothies, soups or roasting.
- Leafy greens like spinach, silverbeet and kale can be washed, chopped and spun dry before packing into freezer-proof containers. Just grab a handful directly from the freezer to throw into curries, stews, soups or smoothies.
- Capsicum can also simply just be washed and chopped before freezing.
- Even avocado can be frozen for use in deserts and smoothies.
- Some veggies do better if blanched (placed in boiling water for a couple of minutes and then rinsed in cold water) to retain colour and texture. But if you don’t have the time, simply washing, chopping and freezing is still better than wasting.
- Chillies can be threaded together with a needle and a piece of cotton and hung up to dry. Once dry they can be crushed and stored in an airtight container.
- Herbs can be washed and dried in a low oven or dehydrator, or simple chopped and frozen in an ice-cube tray with oil or water. The cubes can be moved into mason jars to free up the ice-cube trays for other things.
Swapping with friends and neighbours is another great way to prevent waste and to build community. Have you considered joining a Cropswap group near you? If all else fails, you can do what our Warrah Society participants love to do – feed the scraps to the compost heap, the chooks, the worm farm or the cows.