Waste not, want not—easier said than done!
It’s finally June, and spring is in full swing even in cold states. CSA boxes have started or will be starting up all across North America, gardens will be brimming with goods, and summertime recipes are making an appearance after an all-too-long hibernation in the recipe box.
The overflow of produce in that CSA box often offers you more than you can eat, and while the compost bin benefits, the CSA customer often grieves the waste of all that fresh green produce. We all try to use everything we receive in those fresh, tasty boxes, but unfortunately, there always seems to be some extra veggies, fruits and/or herbs that go to waste.
Here at Tassinong Farms, we grow hydroponic produce in insulated shipping containers, so we have fresh produce available 365 days a year. The overflow of produce is a familiar situation to our customers; for example, a customer may order one pound of sweet basil but only need half of that for their recipe.
Fresh local produce is too good for the compost bin!
What to do with the rest of the basil? We have a tip for just this type of situation because we think that basil is too good for the compost bin.
Don’t throw it away—freeze it! Here are step-by-step instructions on how to freeze those extra greens and other goodies for later use:
1) Place your extra greens in a blender. You can put as much into your blender as you can fit; just smash it down if you need to (it will compress). Add ½ cup filtered water and blend. If the blades stick or your blended basil looks dry (it should look smearable), add another ½ cup filtered water. Blend for 1 minute until pureed.
2) You’ll want to divide the basil into portions to be used in recipes and dishes. Pour your pureed basil into muffin tins until each muffin tin is ¾ full.
3) Place the muffin tin in your freezer and let it freeze overnight. Take it out when it is completely frozen, and place it on your countertop for 5–10 minutes (this makes it easier to pop each portion of the muffin tin).
4) Pop the basil out of each tin using a spatula or other utensil. Store the portions in a Ziploc baggie or container to keep them fresh. Remember to label the bag or container with the item and the date of freezing.
5) Each “puck” of basil is equal to about ½ cup. You can now take one or many out of the freezer every time you need some fresh basil for a recipe.
You can use the frozen basil in homemade pasta sauces, spread it on sandwiches, or combine it with pine nuts, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and salt to make fresh pesto.
You can use this same technique for any green and herb. I have done this with kale, mint, shiso, lettuce, etc. This method makes it so easy to pop frozen pucks of health directly into your smoothies, sauces, and dips. I took a few frozen pucks recently and made some pesto.
This is just one way of preserving extra produce you may have on hand. There are so many other possibilities. Just don’t throw them away!
Kate Haverkampf is “Head of Lettuce” at Tassinong Farms. Her mission is to create a sustainable, year-round local and healthy food network for her community in Crested Butte, CO. She grows hyper-local, fresh produce from organic non-GMO seed and makes sure that fresh produce is available to the community all year long.