Save Your Summer Farmers’ Market Flavors
One of the great pleasures of the summer season is the outrageous abundance of the city’s farmers’ markets. Everything is flush and ripe—just begging you to bring it home. A full market basket is a delight. But sometimes it can compete with a full social calendar. There’s so much fun to be had but you don’t want your crisper to become sad. Don’t let your market haul go to waste. Here are some tips and tricks you can use to buy yourself some extra time to enjoy summer flavor.
Quick pickles are so easy to make and are a great way to keep crisp vegetables from turning limp and unappealing. Great for peppers, cabbage, carrots, radishes and daikon, celery, or any sturdy veg you might have on hand. Make a brine of equal parts vinegar and water, seasoned with salt, sugar and any spices of your choosing and bring to a boil. Cut your clean vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Pack them into a heat proof jar or container (such as a canning jar) and ladle over the hot brine. Cool, cover and refrigerate for up to three weeks.
Frozen berries are great to have on hand to add to smoothies, baked goods, or your morning cereal. The secret to having easy-to-use berries on hand is individually freezing them. Simply wash, dry and arrange berries in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Freeze until solid (at least four hours and up to 24) and transfer to an airtight freezer container for up to six months. The fruit will stay free-pouring so you can take out just what you need. This method can also be used for pitted and sliced stone fruit.
Purees are super quick to make and turn your freezer into a flavor treasure chest. Fruit purees can be used in smoothies, cocktails, frozen desserts, sauces, and more. Tomato puree can be blended straight from the freezer into chilled gazpacho or boiled down before or after freezing for a sauce with fresh-from-the-vine flavor. Just stem, core and pit as necessary (no need to remove skins) and whir in your blender. Pour into a freezer safe container and freeze for up to three months.
Many herbs can be dried and stored in your spice rack. This is particularly true of woody herbs such as thyme, rosemary, and bay. Arrange them on a cooling rack or tie them into small bundles and hang in a well-ventilated area until brittle. Crush them in your hand, remove stems, and store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to three months.
Turn tender herbs into a sauce that can be used to dress grilled foods, whisked into dressings and dips or become the base of a spiky marinade. Puree herbs with a pinch of salt and pepper and a splash of oil. Divide into the compartments a freezer tray and freeze until solid. Cover tray or transfer frozen cubes to an airtight container and use within three months.
Sherri Brooks Vinton is the Chair of Slow Food Los Angeles and the author of a number of farm-to-table cookbooks including “Put ‘em Up! A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook” and “Eat it Up! 150 Recipes to Use Every Bit and Enjoy Every Bite of the Food You Buy”.