The hottest topic of late summer for any gardener is how to manage the abundance of vegetables from the garden. In this post, I’ll focus on how to use and preserve cucumbers, leafy greens, and zucchini.
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Garden Abundance (or is it Garden Overwhelm?)
We never want any of the garden goodness we’ve toiled over all season to go to waste. But at some point, the friends and neighbors grow weary of our generous gestures, and what we really need to do is hunker down, eat up that abundance and preserve some for wintertime eating.
Why not take advantage of the opportunity to eat nutrient dense food year-round? It can save money both in fewer grocery store visits and in less health care costs. (It’s hard to quantify preventative health care, but we are proof!)
Putting some away for winter also reduces our impact on the environment since we won’t have to rely as much on produce shipped in from around the world. Imagine if more suburbanites felt empowered to produce something other than lawn in their yard!
Tomatoes, green beans, and peppers can really send us over the ‘overwhelm’ edge, but don’t worry, I covered those in this post, where I serve up lots of recipes and preservation ideas.
But those aren’t the only big offenders. Cucumbers, leafy greens, and zucchini can also overwhelm us with harvests. Below, I’ll share recipes and preservation ideas.
Yeah, yeah, you can make a boatload of pickles. And you should. Find my best recommended pickle recipes at the bottom of this post about growing cucumbers.
How about cucumber chips or cucumber watermelon salad? These are a couple of my favorite, delicious ways to eat up cucumbers. Click here for those amazing recipes.
But you know, there are lots of other things you can do with these fruiting vegetables. Here are a few ideas.
Preserve Cucumbers (other than pickles)
We have a love affair with leafy greens here at Tenth Acre Farm. That’s because most of our yard is in partial shade, so we can grow leafy greens easier than we can fruiting vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers.
Leafy greens can quickly become overwhelming, though.
Use Leafy Greens
Here are some of my favorite ways to use them up:
- Cream of Greens Soup (8 servings per batch–freezes well, just omit the cream/milk until you’re ready to heat and serve.)
- Curried Kale and Sweet Potato Soup + lots more kale recipes: Warm, golden deliciousness in a bowl. Make lots and freeze it! Bonus: We use all of our greens interchangeably. If the recipe calls for kale, I’ll use whatever chard, turnip, beet, collard or radish greens that need used up.
- I love my collard green and carrot salad. Seriously, collards get a bad rap, but this salad is satisfying.
- Italian Style Stuffed Peppers: I always add two cups or more of chopped leafy greens to the pan with the stuffing ingredients. Hint: Make a giant amount and freeze some!
- Kale and Cucumber Salad with Lemon Tahini dressing from my favorite cookbook Practical Paleo. I make a large amount and serve it for lunches all week. Add avocado and canned salmon for extra “brain food”!
Preserve Leafy Greens
- Freeze extra greens by blanching them for a two minutes. Transfer to ice bath to cool, then drain, and freeze in quantities appropriate for how you will use them in soups, stews, and stir frys.
- Also, see this post about freezing spinach and other cooking greens from Counting my Chickens
When you grow zucchini, you have a lot of zucchini. There’s no middle ground!
- I love my Zucchini Noodles with Roasted Garlic and Tomatoes made with my Veggetti spiral vegetable slicer. My garden on a plate!
- This crustless quiche is often on the menu. I like adding sausage.
- Zucchini Cornbread with Hot Peppers and Cheese by Homespun Seasonal Living
- Baking zucchini bread in a dutch oven by Learning and Yearning
- Cheesy Garlic Zucchini Bread by Common Sense Homesteading
- Zucchini Gummy Candy by Common Sense Homesteading
- Zucchini Hamburger Relish by Attainable Sustainable
- Shredded zucchini can be dehydrated and added to soups and stews.
- Also, see this post about dehydrating zucchini by Learning and Yearning
- Shredded zucchini can be frozen and used in baked goods.
- Also, see this post about freezing zucchini and summer squash by Counting My Chickens
Thinking of canning your produce? Check out my 6 Reasons to buy a pressure canner over a water bath canner.
Don’t be overwhelmed this year. Arm yourself with recipes and preservation ideas for your garden harvest!
How do you manage the surplus bounty coming into your kitchen?