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Making the Most of Summer Produce

One of the things I love most about summer is that there are so many fruits and vegetables to choose from. And best of all, you get to eat some that aren’t available all year round. While produce isn’t as cheap as it once was, now’s still a great time to make the most of what summer has to offer.

But It’s Hot Outside
It’s often unbearable to think about hot foods when it’s 90 degrees outside, but summer is the best time to start planning ahead. One chore I have on my do to list every summer is to make soup and freeze it ready for fall and winter eating. And summer is the best time to round up low cost ingredients to make soups. I have a couple of minestrone soup recipes I want to try this year and with all the tomatoes and herbs appearing in the produce department and therefore, cheaper, I’d be stupid to wait until the fall to make them.

Quick Meals
Another way you can save money, and time, is to visit a farmer’s market, buy the produce in bulk and then make meal kits with it. In the next couple of weeks I’m going to put together some stir fry kits for the freezer.

In the Dead of Winter
One thing I miss about summer is the end of fruits like raspberries and blueberries. Every year I freeze a couple of bags of the fruits of summer and save them for the middle of winter. I sometimes defrost them and eat them as is, or I’ll make a fruit crumble or crisp with them. When the snow’s on the ground there’s nothing better than sitting at the table looking outside and enjoying fruits you remember buying when the temperature was 90 degrees.

I use herbs in just about every type of dish and I always make sure I buy ones like basil, in bulk and make pesto sauce for winter use. I also dry the herbs from the garden, or pack them in ice cube trays, top them up with water, and freeze them for tasty additions to both soups and stews.

Cool Treats
And while I’m a big fan of saving summer produce, I also like to eat it fresh the day it’s purchased. The other week I bought watermelon and have been experimenting with a couple of recipes. The following recipe combines watermelon, and mint from my garden. You can also use a combination of different types of melons, but as they tend to be not as sweet as watermelon, you might need to increase the sugar.

Watermelon and Mint Granita
Serves 6
4 cups of cubed watermelon
¼ cup of sugar
¼ cup of lemonade
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

I used my food processor for this, but you could use a blender. Put everything into the processer and pulse until everything’s blended and the watermelon is in fine pieces.
Pour the mixture into a metal baking pan and place in the freezer for an hour. After 30 minutes, stir the mixture, and then stir it again after you take it out. I like to take a fork and run it through the mixture to give it a rough, slush like texture. And one of my favorite ways to serve this granita is in martini glasses with a tiny sprig of mint placed on the side of the glass. Cool, refreshing, and low cost.

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