Probably the summer vegetable that we all know and love the most is a nice, big, juicy tomato. Because there are so many kinds to try and so many ways to prepare them, it seems we never tire of them! Here are some nutritional facts and recipes to learn more about this summer delight!
Tomatoes are full of essential vitamins and minerals as well! In addition to being rich in antioxidants, they are also a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, potassium and iron. In fact, a single tomato can provide up to 40% of the FDA recommended daily value of Vitamin C.
Tomatoes have also been proven to help reduce the risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol, and help counteract the effects of cigarette smoke inhalation (from second and third hand smoke primarily). Tomatoes can also reduce digestive health issues, improve vision, manage diabetes, and treat urinary tract infections.
Tomatoes can be preserved in a number of ways. Right now is a great time to can salsa, as both peppers and tomatoes are in season and at their very best. See below for a great salsa recipe!
In addition to canning, tomatoes can be preserved in other ways as well! Check out this link for different ways to preserve tomatoes: https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-preserve-tomatoes-2217665
Eggplants are a great summer vegetable, but one that a lot of people don’t know how to cook with. Aside from being pretty to look at, this veggie is also pretty delicious and can be cooked in several ways.
Eggplants are also very healthy! Eggplants have been proven to improve digestion, help manage weight, prevent cancer, heart disease, and anemia as well as improve bone health. Some studies have also suggested that eggplant could help reduce the risk of amnesia, Alzheimer’s, and dementia as well as improve overall cognitive ability and brain function.
Eggplants are very nutrient rich as well! A few of the nutrients they contain include: vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, thiamin, niacin, magnesium, copper, potassium, and manganese. They also have very high iron and fiber contents.
Eggplants can be preserved in several ways. Some options to consider are roasting and then freezing, blanching and then freezing, or freezing breaded and fried eggplant slices. Eggplant can also be dehydrated and used in a variety of ways. Check out this link for a how-to on all of these methods: http://thefreerangelife.com/how-to-preserve-eggplant/
Eggplants are a very versatile vegetable! Check out these recipe links for ways to incorporate them into your diet:
We have several varieties of eggplant available for purchase. The most common type of eggplant is the Nadia eggplant. Other types available at our farm-stand and farmer’s market locations include the Rosa Bianca, a rounder, white-streaked eggplant, and the Dark Japanese, which is long and thin, and slightly darker in hue than your traditional Nadia eggplant. See below for pictures!
Fresh okra for baking or frying is one of the staples of summer we all know and love. However, we often overlook the health benefits of okra as well as some atypical ways to prepare it. Keep reading for nutritional information, recipes, and preservation techniques for this fun summer vegetable!
Okra, aside from being very low in calories, is full of healthy vitamins and minerals. It has very high Vitamins A, C and K contents and also provides a healthy dose of antioxidants such as beta-carotene, xanthin, and lutein. Okra is also very fiber-rich and contains essential minerals such as iron, calcium, manganese, and magnesium.
These vitamins and minerals translate into a number of health benefits. The vitamin A content in okra has been proven to help reduce the risk of lung and oral cancer. Vitamin C increases immune system function and can help reduce the likelihood of catching colds or flus. Vitamin K helps blood clotting and strengthens bones. Okra’s high fiber content and low calorie content make it an excellent choice for those trying to increase digestive health or lose weight as well.
Okra can be frozen a number of ways. AS with any vegetable, you should wash and dry your okra before hand and make sure you are only using the freshest okra to freeze. This will ensure that it holds up well in the freezer.
After blanching, you have several options for how to freeze your okra. Okra can be frozen whole, which is recommended to increase storage time and preserve vitamin content. Alternatively, okra can be cut in halves and frozen that way (please note that this decrease the time the okra will last in the freezer).
Another option for preserving okra is to fry okra and then freeze it. To do so, fry okra as you normally would, then spread on a baking sheet and freeze before placing into a plastic baggie for storage.
Toss together fried okra, coarsely chopped tomatoes, diced red onion, chopped fresh basil, and red wine vinaigrette. Serve immediately.
Smashed Fried Okra
1. Use a meat mallet to smash okra, starting at tip of pod and working toward stem end. Place buttermilk in a shallow dish, and place cornmeal in another shallow dish. Stir desired amount of salt and pepper into buttermilk and cornmeal. Dip okra in buttermilk; dredge in cornmeal, shaking off excess.
2. Pour oil to a depth of 2 inches into a large Dutch oven; heat to 350°. Fry okra, in batches, 2 to 3 minutes or until brown and crisp, turning once. Remove okra, using a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels. Add salt and pepper to taste; serve.
Cherry tomatoes have many of the same health benefits as the beefsteak tomato, which is the full-size tomato they are most closely related to. Cherry tomatoes are available in many shapes and colors, but are most commonly red or golden yellow. Other varieties include pink, ivory, purple, and even black cherry tomatoes.
Cherry tomatoes are particularly high in Vitamin B6, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C. They also contain substantial amounts of protein and have a high fiber content.
These nutritional values have a number of health benefits. Vitamin B6 helps improve blood flow and increases immune function, and Vitamin A benefits the eyes, heart, lungs, and kidneys. Some studies have also shown cherry tomatoes to prevent bone disease such as osteoporosis as well as skin damage.
Cherry tomatoes can be preserved by freezing, and it’s incredibly easy to do! Unlike most vegetables, they don’t have to be blanched before freezing. In fact, the only thing you need to do before popping them in the freezer is wash and dry them.
For more information on freezing cherry tomatoes and how to freeze roasted cherry tomatoes, click here.
Marinated Cherry Tomato Salad
Pasta with Roasted Garlic and Cherry Tomatoes
To me, there’s no fruit that’s quite as summery as a nice, juicy cantaloupe. Aside from being delicious and refreshing, though cantaloupes are also very healthy, versatile fruits as well. Keep reading for nutrition facts, methods of preparation, and more!
Cantaloupe is very high in vitamins A, C and Potassium. These nutrients have been proven to boost your immune system, prevent vision problems, maintain strong bones and skin, and supports good metabolic health.
Although typically eaten as a summer fruit, cantaloupe can be preserved if you have access to a flash freezer or a dehydrator. Check out some great methods for preserving cantaloupe using both of these methods here.
Cantaloupe is great on its own, but it can also be eaten with greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or in salads. Here are some more recipes for cantaloupe:
Chilled Cantaloupe Soup
1. Peel, seed, and cube the cantaloupe.
2. Place cantaloupe and 1/2 cup orange juice in a blender or food processor; cover, and process until smooth.
3. Transfer to large bowl. Stir in lime juice, cinnamon, and remaining orange juice.
4. Cover, and refrigerate for at least one hour. Garnish with mint if desired.
Mix cantaloupe, tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, yellow bell pepper, jalapeno peppers, lemon juice, lime juice, and garlic together in a bowl. Add enough olive oil to moisten the salsa; season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until chilled and flavors have combined, 1 to 2 hours.
Easy Cantaloupe Smoothie
Place the fruit, juice, and honey into blender. Blend on high speed for 30 seconds. Add ice and blend until smooth.
The poblano pepper is a type of chili pepper derived from the state of Puebla, Mexico. They are mildly spicy, with a heat index between one and two thousand Scoville units. They are often used in Mexican cuisine, including soups, enchiladas, chiles rellenos, and more.
Poblano peppers have been shown to have a number of health benefits, including fairly significant quantities of Iron, Copper, and Vitamins A, B2, and B6. Vitamin B6 has been shown in some studies to assist in the proper development and function of the brain, and a lack of this vitamin has been proven to affect memory, cognitive impairment and the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Poblano peppers are also great for people who suffer from anemia due to their iron and Vitamin B2 content. Iron and B2 aid in red blood cell production, which in turn helps deliver more oxygen to the blood and allows blood to clot more efficiently.
Other studies have also show poblano peppers to be useful for prevent vision-related disease, decreasing chances of premature birth, and treating arthritis.
Poblanos can be stored either frozen or dried. See below for methods of doing both.
To freeze peppers, first char them. This gives peppers a smokier taste and makes them easier to cook with when defrosted. Here’s how:
In Mexico, dried Poblano peppers are known as Ancho chilies. This is also very easy to do and Anchos are also very versatile. Start with clean, dry peppers and the follow the directions below
Quinoa Stuffed Poblano Peppers
Avocado Cream Sauce:
Slice the avocado in half and remove the pit. Scoop the flesh into a food processor and add the yogurt, lime juice and a big pinch of salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.
Poblano Pepper and Mango Quesadillas
Always brings back the memories of our 1st farm-stand (okay, trailer) set-up, and the image of my sister, her belly as big as a watermelon with her 1st son, eating half a watermelon and as many peaches as she could get her hands on in a day.
Tis the season, for the fruits!
One of my favorite times of year. We are fruit maniacs, and are blessed to have easy access through our fields and fellow farmers. My children don't know what it is like to not have blueberries and peaches on demand!
Over the next month, North Carolina's fruit
season is peaking with the availability of:
Peaches (and other stone fruit)
Take advantage! Fruit salad is a super easy, and always enjoyed, summer side.
Just chop and mix fruit and add herbs and spices as desired -- Yes, that's it! I won't insult you by linking a recipe.
Or, pair your fruits with some plain yogurt and this Homemade Granola Recipe for a yummy breakfast, snack or dessert.
So, get out to your local farm-stand or market, and treat yourself! (Where we will be selling)
If you are in the Denton area, check out Persimmon Branch Farm and Campbell's Blueberries for some local goodness.
Onions are perhaps the most flavorful of our Summer vegetables, and their versatility make them one of the most loved as well. Aside from being tasty and easy to cook with, they’re also super healthy. Onions are excellent sources of Vitamin C, sulphur, and antioxidants.
Some studies have also shown onions to reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and cardiovascular disease. Some of the antioxidants in onions have been shown to reduce the risk of prostate cancer and reducing the symptoms of bladder and urinary tract infections as well.
Some studies have shown that the highest concentration of vitamins and antioxidants lies in the outermost part of the onion, so be careful when peeling it not to remove any of this super-healthy part of the onion.
Onions can either be stored fresh or frozen, and both are super easy. To store fresh onions, first select the onions that are the most mature and firm. Do not wash onions before storing. Onions will store best hanging up in mesh bags in a basement or root cellar, optimally where the temperature falls between 32 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. You should also have them in an area that is not very humid and has good ventilation to ensure that onions do not begin sprouting.
There are also some good options for freezing onions. The best option is perhaps to slice them and place them in a freezer bag to use later. Please note that onions can become slightly mushy after freezing, so you will want to use them in cooking rather than eating them fresh.
Another great way to preserve onions for cooking is to peel and puree them in a blender. Then pour the onion puree into ice trays and cover with plastic to freeze (this will help keep the onion-flavor from seeping into your other frozen foods). Remove from trays and place into plastic baggies. Use your onions cubes in soups, gravies, etc. for a quick way to add some flavor to your meal.
Easy Caramelized Onions
1. Cut the onions root to tip: Slice 1/2-inch off the stem ends of the onions and the roots off of the root end. Place the onions cut side down on the cutting board. Cut them in half through the root end. Peel back the peels from the onions.
2. Heat olive oil and butter, add onion slices: Use a wide, thick-bottomed sauté pan for maximum pan contact with the onions. Coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil, or a mixture of olive oil and butter (about 1 teaspoon per onion). Heat the pan on medium high heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the onion slices and stir to coat the onions with the oil. Spread the onions out evenly over the pan and let cook, stirring occasionally.
3. Cook, stirring every few minutes: Let cook for 30 minutes to an hour more, stirring every few minutes. As soon as the onions start sticking to the pan, let them stick a little and brown, but then stir them before they burn.
French Onion Soup
Beets are traditionally eaten boiled, roasted or raw and even pickled. The greens as well as the root itself are edible. Young leaves are often eaten raw in salads, and adult leaves are more commonly boiled or steamed in a fashion similar to spinach or other greens.
Beets are also high in nutrients such as vitamin C, potassium, and manganese. These nutrients help improve muscle and nerve function, and are also good for your bones, liver, kidneys, and pancreas. Some studies have also shown beets to reduce the risk of cancer, lower blood pressure, and act as an anti-inflammatory.
See below for recipes and storage options for beets.
Aside from pickling and canning beets, they can also be frozen if prepared properly. Here’s how:
Simple Roasted Beets
Baked Rosemary Beet Chips
Squash is a fun summer vegetable that is also really good for you. Squash is somewhat sweet and a bit watery, with a thin, edible skin that is typically left on the vegetable when it is consumed. Summer squashes include yellow straightneck, yellow crookneck, patty pan, zucchini, eight ball zucchini and golden zucchini.
Squash is very low in cholesterol and sodium as well as saturated fats and a good source of many vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, B6, and C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, iron, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, and manganese.
Squash is also very versatile in the ways it can be prepared and cooked. It is often fried, roasted, and grilled, and can be used in conjunction with many other vegetables. See below for how to freeze squash for the winter!
How to Freeze Summer Squash