How To Store Summer and Fall Produce For The Winter

by Isabel Thottam
Summer has come to an end, which means it’s almost time to say goodbye to some of our favorite fruits and vegetables. But if you want to keep those healthy, fresh produce around for the cold months ahead, now is the time to start stocking up and storing your produce. Doing so will help you stop wasting money (and food!)

What Kind of Produce Should You Store?

The type of produce that's in season will vary by your location, but, for the most part, some of the top produce you want to stock up during the summer months include berries, peaches, cherries, squash, zucchini, watermelon, figs and corn. During the fall, you’ll see lots of pears, apples, sweet potatoes, turnips, pumpkin, pomegranates, mushrooms, grapes, and cranberries.
While you’ll still be able to get a majority of summer and fall produce at your local grocery store, these items will be more expensive and are likely transported from a different region, meaning the quality could be lower.

Also on Z LIving: 10 Easy Ways To Keep Your Produce Ultra-Fresh
You can easily plan ahead and save money by storing these kinds of produce for later. Before the season comes to an end, visit to your local farmer’s market or grocery and stock up now. You might have to shell out quite a few bucks, but the savings will be greater in the long run. Plus, most vendors at a farmer’s market will let you buy in bulk for a great price, or even order with them ahead of time.

The Fastest Way to Store Produce? Freeze It!

The quickest and easiest way to store your fresh produce is to freeze it. Pretty much all fruits freeze well, but you only want to freeze vegetables that are cooked before being served. This means you can freeze vegetables like corn, potatoes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, peppers, spinach, squash and peas. You cannot freeze vegetables that you would eat raw, like celery, lettuce or cucumbers.
Moreover, you want to blanch vegetables (and some fruits) before storing them in order to neutralize their enzymes so they don’t convert all their sugar into starch. Most fruits don’t need to be blanched, but some farms suggest blanching stone fruits, such as peaches for best freezing practices.

Also on Z LIving: How To Keep Your Fresh Produce Really Fresh

Another Idea: Can It!

Another great way to store produce is to can it. You can easily can vegetables and fruits, but it’s important to understand how to do properly can produce in order to avoid growth of bacteria and molds.

What To Do With Your Stored Produce

There are various ways you can use leftover produce (especially leftover berries) and the easiest meals to make with produce you’ve stored are smoothies, soups and baked goods, like pies and cobblers. This will make cooking in the colder months a lot more fun because you’ll be able to use those summer fruits and vegetables in a stew or dessert.
Since the fall and winter include many holidays, this will also give you the opportunity to make a less traditional meal or dessert to bring to a holiday party. Plus, canned fruits like peaches and pears always make great gifts.
Now that you know what and how to store produce for the winter, take a trip to your local farmer’s market or grocery before it’s too late! Plus, thinking ahead will give you a stocked freezer that’s always ready to put your kitchen to work – so you’re never left wondering what to cook...even if you get snowed in.
WATCH on Z Living: Healthy Gourmet, where nutritionist Julie Daniluk and chef Ezra Title join forces and battle between taste and nutrition, helping home cooks create nutritious and tasty meals that can feed a crowd. See a sneak preview here.

Tell us in the comments: What produce are you buying now and using later?

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