Making the Most of Everything


At the end of my last post I mentioned that I would share some details of the food preparation that I do.

In the past few weeks I have been fortunate to score some great bargains on fresh produce. A food bargain is only a bargain if you actually use the food. This can be a particular challenge with fresh produce but with a bit of know-how and some time you can make the most of bargains that may come your way.

Today I want to show you how I used and stored large quantities of cheap bananas, pineapples and tomatoes.

I bought a 10kg box of perfect, ripe Roma tomatoes for $10. $1/kg was too good to pass up. I could have bottled them straightaway but they were so firm, red and perfect that we decided to enjoy them fresh for as long as possible. I spread them out on a couple of racks so that would be able to easily identify any blemishes or potential rotten ones. Fresh tomato salsa was served with at least one and often two meals every day. Here is a selection of our meals.

L to R: Chicken tacos, Mexican quinoa and Baked potatoes with refried beans

This strategy worked well for just over 3 weeks which is testament to the perfect quality of the produce. In fact, I have no idea why they were being sold for $1/kg.

The remaining tomatoes were diced and packed into jars to go in the freezer. These will be added to casseroles and other dishes instead on buying canned tomatoes.

Next were the bananas. These were also $1/kg and I bought 12.5kg in a box. The bananas ranged from partly green to overripe but the majority were ripe and flavoursome although the skins were showing blemishes. We eat sliced banana on our cereal every day so about a dozen of the least ripe ones were added to fruit bowl to be eaten over the next week.

Two very ripe ones became banana cake and the remainder were peeled, cut in half and frozen on trays. They can be sliced and added to cereal with no further preparation.

You can see the less ripe bananas in the fruit bowls in the background as well as trays ready for the freezer and two bananas in the bowl which were about to be turned into banana cake.

Finally, the pineapples. I spotted this box of 5 pineapples for $4 and knew exactly how I could use them.

Dried pineapple is a delicious treat so it was a simple matter of peeling, coring and slicing the pineapple and then into the dehydrator. We like it semi-dried (a bit chewy but not crunchy). I store it in a container in the refrigerator.

L to R: Fresh pineapple ready to dehydrate, dried pineapple, ready to store in the refrigerator.

I would love to hear your stories of bargains or gluts and how you make sure they do not go to waste.

Storing the Surplus

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We have a fig tree that we planted about 5 or 6 years ago and for about the last 4 years we have been able to pick enough figs to enjoy a good feed during the relatively short season.  Invariably, the birds get some and some go rotten, particularly the last couple of years when we have had a lot of summer rain.  This season has been mostly warmer than usual and fairly dry.

I have been picking and eating figs when I am in the garden for the past few weeks so yesterday I started picking some and realised that there was an enormous number ready to pick.  Here is the result.  Yes, that is my hat that I collected some in.

2013-02-03 01I ended up with 5 kg of figs so it made sense to preserve some for later use.  I love fig jam but we don’t really eat much jam so thought I would trying drying them in the dehydrator.

2013-02-03 02I filled the 4 trays with cut figs.

24 hours later I have semi-dried figs.

2013-02-3 03I am going to store them in the refrigerator as there is still some moisture in them.  Meanwhile we still have plenty of fresh figs to eat at the moment.