Cooking and Baking with Nancy’s

Bringing In the Bounty – How We’re Making the Most of Late Summer Produce

The temperatures here in Oregon have eased off a bit this week and the calendar says that Fall is around the corner. Soon enough, we’ll be back into a routine – whatever that is! For now, time stands still as orchards, gardens and brambles overflow. Late-summer produce is popping, and whether you’ve been picking blackberries until your fingertips are purple or you bought every stone fruit at the farm stand in a peach-colored haze, we can relate! Let’s take our sweet time here and consider the ways that, along with Nancy’s products teeming with probiotics, the delicious seasonal fruits and vegetables can benefit our bodies. We’ll share a bundle of seasonal recipes, plus simple storage tips to help you keep this blissful feeling for just a little while longer

 

WHAT’S ABUNDANT NOW

The fruits and vegetables we’re snacking now are usually available year-round, but they’re always more delicious in-season. Not only are the flavors and textures at their peak, but so are the nutrients – as if you need another reason to love them!

First, what’s a stone fruit? Simply put, it’s any fruit that has a pit or a “stone” in the center. Peaches, apricots, plums, cherries and (surprise!) even blackberries and figs are in this category and right now they’re ripening with sweet juices. Each type is loaded with nutrients, including potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C that may help to support healthy blood pressure and your immune system. If you’ve got a fresh-picked bucket of stone fruits, the law of summer says, at least a few must be eaten out-of-hand. The rest can be combined with Nancy’s and other wholesome ingredients to make sweet summer recipes, like a rustic plum-filled galette or a baked custard tart.

Here’s one you probably saw coming: yep, tomatoes are only “vegetables” by reputation. This fleshy fruit is plump in the summer with deeper color and sometimes more sweetness than its shape can hold. Also, all tomatoes are bursting with lycopene, beta-carotene and other antioxidants, not to mention life-giving water. Fresh or cooked, the best tomato variety for your health is the one that delights you the most! We love ours sliced and stacked on a bagel over Nancy’s Garlic & Herb Cream Cheese, made even better with Quick-Pickled Red Onions.

No one’s excited about cooking over a hot stove in August, so we’re guessing you’ve been eating a lot of your produce fresh. Here at the Creamery, our arms are overflowing with organic veggies each week from Creamery provided CSA Boxes delivered by Camas Swale Farm. It’s is a delicious problem to have! We love a good dip served with a variety of crisp-cut veggies, i.e., bell peppers in every color of the rainbow, adding folate and polyphenols to our late-summer lineup of important nutrients. As it happens, we’ve got a delicious idea for snacking in technicolor. Try filling translucent Rice Paper Rolls with a crunchy combination of fruits and vegetables, then serving them with a cool and creamy dip made with fresh mint and Nancy’s Organic 100% Grass-Fed Yogurt.

 

WASTE NOT, WANT NOT

Clearly, late-summer produce is a wonderful thing! And it’s only fresh for so long (sigh). If you can’t eat fruits and vegetables right from the earth, knowing how to store and preserve them can help you gobble that goodness for a longer time without losing the flavor, texture or essential nutrients you crave this time of year.

For starters, not all produce will fare well in the fridge. And most good cooks will tell you, this is especially true for peaches, nectarines and tomatoes. The flavors and textures don’t always hold up in the cold, so, keep these fruits on the countertop and eat them as soon as possible. Berries, however, should be fine in the fridge for at least a couple of days if they’re unwashed and uncovered. As soon as you see one start to pucker, spread them out on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and pop them in the freezer. Once they’re solid, you can scoop them into a resealable bag and preserve them frozen for weeks to months. They’re perfect for smoothies and baked goods, not to mention, Oregon Marionberry Compote!

Like berries, crunchy vegetables are best kept cool, and some, cooler than others. Peppers will keep in your refrigerator’s crisper bin. Squashes, however, may freeze and lose their structure, so best to keep them in the center and up front. And before your zucchini start to frown, grate them up and make a batch of Zucchini Bread with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting to share. A loaf of this summery recipe always brings a smile to our friends and neighbors!

Longer term solutions for preserving summer produce include dehydrating, pickling and canning, all of which require a little bit of planning, simple equipment and a few extra ingredients. If thinking that far ahead doesn’t suit your summer style, we can highly recommend a double batch of Quick Berry Jam that’ll get you through the week, no problem.

Wherever you may be, this summer season may be proving to be too hot, too smokey or having you a bit concerned about your health and loved ones. We do understand that. But whatever the climate, we can all be assured that seasons will shift, and when it does, we’ll have memories made from this summer season. We’ll also have our health, bolstered by the best foods nature can provide. These things are the essence of summer, and we count ourselves grateful.

Live well and in good health,

❤️ – The Kesey Family & all the folks at Springfield Creamery