How I Salvage Produce That’s Past Its Primeposted by Andrea | 10/23/2012
Whenever I walk into the grocery store, the very first place I go is to the discount produce racks. Sometimes, they are completely empty, but most of the time they are FILLED with produce that is just a day or so past the store’s sell-by date.
This produce is most certainly still edible… and it’s usually 50% – 75% off regular price produce.
Some examples of deals I’ve gotten lately:
- strawberries for $0.30 – $0.50 per pound
- bags of multi-colored peppers for $1 per bag (usually with 3-6 peppers per bag)
- 10-lb. bag of potatoes for $0.89
- blueberries and raspberries for $0.20 per pint
- bananas for $0.20 per pound
- broccoli and cauliflower for $.049 per head
And this time of year, I’ve also seen discounted “seconds” (produce that might have a few bruises or be mis-shaped, small, etc.) at orchards and other farmer’s markets for drastically reduced prices.
I save SO much money buying discounted produce, and none of it ever goes to waste. We eat as much as we can fresh, and then I “salvage” the rest.
Here are a few ways I salvage produce that’s a little past its prime…
We have bags of discounted berries in our freezer (all washed, sliced, and ready to go). We use blueberries for pancakes and muffins, raspberries for bread, and all the berries for my super simple Any-Fruit Smoothies, shortcake, jam, or just for ice-cream toppings!
I also freeze chopped rhubarb and cherries in 2-cup containers for breads, muffins, and jam.
This way, I can simply defrost one container (or bag) of 4 and I don’t need to touch them once they defrost and are all slimy and black!
Simply cook any bruised or mushy apples to make apple sauce. You can eat it as-is, freeze for later, or use it for baking in place of oil.
Another yummy idea for not-so-hot apples is apple butter (which also makes a fabulous Christmas gift.)
I don’t think I’ve ever paid full price for peppers in my entire life — they are SO expensive! Just last week, I got 10 huge peppers (yellow, orange, green, and red) for a grand total of $2.10. They were all still nice and crunchy and we ate 4 of them on salads or raw all last week.
However, I chopped up the other 6 and put them in a large freezer bag. I flash-froze them on a cookie sheet so they wouldn’t stick together, and now I can simply grab out a handful for omelet’s, casseroles, soups, or stir-fry.
I mix all the colors together, but you could separate them out if you want. Also, I will sometimes keep one bag of sliced peppers and another bag of finely chopped peppers for use in different recipes.
Carrots, Onions, and Celery:
I know none of these vegetables are expensive, but I still hate to waste them. So if I see that my carrots, onions, or celery is starting to look a little “old”, I quickly chop up whatever is left in my refrigerator and put them in gallon freezer bags. I lay the bags flat so I can easily break off whatever I need for soups, stews, casseroles, etc.
So normally, I would say that potatoes don’t freeze very well (like in soups or casseroles)… however, I’ve tried chopping and shredding my own potatoes and they actually work OK in the freezer.
I don’t do this very often because potatoes have such a long shelf life, but there have been a few occasions when I’ve salvaged the last of my potatoes by tossing them in the freezer!
Zucchini and Squash:
I’ve been freezing zucchini and squash for many years. I shred it all in my food processor and freeze it in 2-cup portions (see below) for breads, cakes, muffins, etc.
We eat lots of fresh spinach salads… so we usually don’t have a problem finishing the bag before it goes bad, but there have been times when all of a sudden, I realize the spinach looks a bit slimy. Whenever that happens, I put the entire bag straight into the freezer. Once it’s frozen, I remove the spinach, chop it up, and freeze it in 2 cup portions. Then I use the chopped spinach in lasagna, soups, quiche, or other casseroles.
As you can see, we rarely ever throw out any produce in our house. In my opinion, unless it’s completely moldy, there is probably some way I can salvage it!