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Beacon Senior News

Celebrate August with local produce

Jul 31, 2017 11:04AM ● By Paige Slaughter

Between farmers markets, local farm stands and backyard gardens, our area is bursting with fresh produce. There’s nothing like some Olathe sweet corn, a sun-ripened heirloom tomato, or a juicy Palisade peach.

Not only is locally grown produce the tastiest, it’s also the healthiest. It’s easy to forget that grocery store produce has traveled hundreds of miles to get here and loses much of its nutritional value within just a few days of being harvested.

For me, taste and nutrition are reasons enough to gravitate towards local produce. Caring for our planet and supporting the local economy are also huge factors. But there’s another reason to participate in our local growing season: money in your pocket.

  • Support local growers by visiting farmers markets. Talk to different vendors to learn about how they’re growing their food. Some casual digging might lead you to discover someone who’s putting your values into practice.
  • Reap (and share) your bounty! For us gardeners, mid-summer is a joyous time. We get to reap the fruits of our labor, brag to our friends about all we’ve grown, swap stories and produce with other garden dwellers and share bountiful harvests with our loved ones. Giving homegrown produce is deeply rewarding. Visit www.growanotherrow.org to learn more about how you can participate in sharing.
  • Preserve the harvest to enjoy all year long.

Preserving abundance

Even the hungriest of us can only eat so many peaches. Consider these opportunities to preserve harvests so that you can enjoy them all year.

  • Drying and dehydrating: The simplest and most hands-off approach to food preservation, drying produce is easy and effective. Air dry tender herbs by bundling and hanging them in a cool, dark place with a bit of air flow. You can spread a thin layer of herbs, edible flowers or chili peppers in a basket and lay cheesecloth over the top to keep dust away. Slice fruits and dry them in a dehydrator. Store dried produce in jars to use in dishes.
  • Canning: You only need a few tools and a recipe to get started canning. Be warned: This is one of the more time-consuming techniques.
  • Fermentation: Let food and liquid sit in a jar on the counter, and wait. There are many types of fermentation leading to fantastic eats like kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, wines and spirits. Fermented products are full of probiotics that benefit your gut.
Whichever preservation methods you choose to explore, do some research beforehand. You may discover a new favorite food and pastime all at once!