Many of our customers tell us about the benefits of being part of Lee Greens; from eating more fresh, organic seasonal produce and less processed food than they did before, feeling healthier and wasting less by cooking from scratch more to becoming more adventurous in the kitchen and letting vegetables take centre stage in preparing meals. But we also appreciate that with great veg comes what might sometimes feel like the great responsibility of preparing meals to use your veg through the week before Thursday and Lee Greens bag day comes around again. So we’ve put together some tips to help you get the greatest possible benefit from your bag.
Storing your veg
Storing your fruit and veg effectively will help prolong its freshness, colour and taste. Our fellow Better Food Trader and friends at Growing Communities have produced a really useful veggie-table to guide you in best storage practice.
The beauty of being part of a vegetable bag or box scheme is the opportunity to think outside the box and get out of cooking comfort zones. We’ve all got vegetable favourites, the ones that lift the mood when we find them in our bags on a Lee Greens Thursday - a squash brightens my spirits, for example. We appreciate others may be further down the preference pecking order, we might not be so confident about cooking with it and of course, life can be hectic and busy, and it's not always easy to allot time to such planning. But taking a bit of time early in the week to give a bit of love to say, that possibly ominous beetroot, the impenetrable-looking kohlrabi, will be easier than when it’s less fresh and you’re less inclined to use it and perhaps not use it at all...
Prioritise the perishable
Even if you put your more delicate veg like salad leaves straight into your fridge crisper it can deteriorate quickly in the fridge so it’s worthwhile using them early. If they do go limp you can revive with a spritz, a bit of a soak or a lil’ ice bath. More robust greens like chard, kale, broccoli and spring greens can come next and hardier produce such as swede, beetroot, cabbage, cauliflower, containing less moisture than some of the above, will stay fresh much longer. Winter Squash (especially if it comes whole) is a storage stalwart and should keep for months.
Freeze and easy
Your freezer can become an ally in contending with an emergent veg mountain. For most of your veg, blanching before freezing will help retain its colour, texture and flavour and nutrients and give it a further clean. Our friends and fellow Better Food Trader Growing Communities have put together another choice veggie-table to show veg can be frozen raw and which need to be blanched. Wash veg thoroughly first and don’t forget to label and date it. This short video from the BBC recommends open freezing meaning you won’t have to defrost clumped together veg in large batches so can use just as much as you need.
Soups, stews, stir fries etc
Combining lots of veg together in dishes like stews, soups or stir fries is another great way to maximise the contents of your bag. Explore our ever expanding recipe page where you can select a recipe according to your veg of choice. The investment of your time in making up a big batch and freezing will pay big dividends later down the line - plenty of no cook nights, and so much healthier and cheaper than a takeaway. We like the look of our friends at Growing Communities' Perfect Vegbox Root veg Dhal. For nights when you want something quick and easy, stir fries are a fine way to incorporate loads of veg into one meal. If you’ve got a pile of greens mounting up that really needs eating up, like spinach, chard or kale then a pasta is always a good go-to. Our director Chris makes good use of his Lee Greens by making lots of noodle soups for lunch using miso paste and whatever veg needs using up.
Preserves and pickles
A great way to use up a glut of and get creative with the veg in your bag bag is to make preserves such as pickles and chutney. During the season of autumnal veg abundance last year, some of the Lee Greens team embraced the preserve - Lynda put her stripy chioggia beetroot to great use to make a stellar pickle. An article from our newsletter on good ways to use up a glut of veg was the catalyst for a rich chutney-making phase at Lee Greens, our chutney creator in chief being Tash, who made a wonderful batch. Check out her versatile recipe here.
If you’re at a loss at what to do with that whole cabbage, for example, making a classic and simple sauerkraut is a fine way to use up and preserve a vegetable glut and is a great way to get some of that good bacteria into your life too. You could also employ carrots, cabbage, peppers, kale, chard, seaweed, broccoli, onion, or beetroot in a ferment - take a look at this Lee Greens article to find out more.
Kieran Mullens, Lee Greens news editor
19 Leegate, Lee, London, SE12 8SS
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