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Fruits and Veggies from Farmers Market

How I preserved fruit and vegetables during the lockdown

by Shyamali Sinha

How I preserved fruit and vegetables during lockdown for healthy meals and cut down food waste, food expense – Living in lockdown is our current reality. Over the last two-three weeks, panic buying of groceries has become widespread in Australia, India and many countries all over the world. It began with toilet paper, sanitizer, then all grocery items, medicine, everything has just vanished from the supermarket. No need to say that it’s not only affecting our community but this panic buy affects our personal finance too. One problem leading us to another one and it seems we all stuck in a loop. 

Accept the reality and Check your fridge before grocery shopping to avoid food waste!

Minimum of three weeks lockdown is reality, we have to accept it. Some of us can afford to stay at home and work from home, but there are professionals from different sectors can’t afford to work from home. People who work in emergency sectors like healthcare, water and electric supply office, Police, cleaning services, age care, child care these are to name a few, but I am sure there are many other professions where people cant work from home. Day by day, the situation is getting tougher.

The key to coping with this quarantine or lockdown situation is making nutritious meals without wasting what we have in our fridge and pantry. Food waste is another giant issue that the world is dealing with for many years. Preserved fruit, vegetables during lockdown is a great way to take advantage of the local harvest and save money. Check your pantry and make sure it is well stocked for the emergency situation or lockdown, next check what are the vegetables and fruits you already have in your fridge!

Fruits and Veggies from Farmers Market
Fruits and Veggies from Farmers Market

We are a family of three, one kid and two adults. I don’t enjoy the last minute shopping, so it is obvious that panic buying is not my cup of tea. Having a routine to organise and manage pantry and fridge, meal plan, meal prep,  always gives me the cushion to be prepared for any emergency situation. It’s been two weeks when the last time Biswa went to the farmer’s market and local shops for vegetable and fruit shopping and he bought all these:

  1. Pine Mushroom- 1 box
  2. Red and yellow capsicums- 4-5
  3. Purple cabbage 1/2
  4. Cauliflowers-2
  5. Green beans-500gm
  6. Cucumber-4
  7. Sweet potato -1
  8. Truss tomato – approximately 1kg
  9. Garlic – 2 bags
  10. Banana – A bunch ( 4-5 Bananas in a bunch)
  11.  Grapes – 1 kg
  12. Plums – 2kgs
  13. Strawberry- ½ kg
  14. Avocadoes- 2
  15. Eggs – 1 tray ( 30 pieces)
  16. Carrot – 1 bag ( 2kg approx)

To get more information about Farmer’s market in Melbourne, Victoria please visit the site.

How to store vegetables

Freezing, canning, pickling, sun drying, there are many ways we can store our vegetables and fruits for longer than a month. Not all the vegetables are alike, which means there is no single best way to store them all.

In the fridge or refrigerator!

Mushroom – this veggie will last 3-5 days in the refrigerator in a paper bag. Personally I prefer to cook them within two days. If I can’t consume within 2 days then, I clean, wash and pan-fry them. When it’s cool, keep them in a glass container to make pulao, pasta, or curry. If you are looking for a  gluten-free one-pot easy meal with mushroom, then you can try this Spinach Mushroom rice recipe. If you don’t have spinach in your refrigerator, then skip it.

Eggplant, Bell pepper, Snow peas, zucchini,  cauliflower, cucumber- These vegetables will last up to a week in the refrigerator! If you have all these vegetables in your refrigerator, then with some pantry staple you can make delicious vegetarian side dishes, such as Begun BhajaBeguni, Begun Posto.

Ginger – I prefer to wash the ginger, next dry them with a piece of cloth, then I cut them into ½ inch round coin and keep them in a glass bottle in the refrigerator. I have seen this way I can store them for more than a month.

Garlic – I prefer to remove the garlic pods from the bulb and peel the skin off, then I store them in a glass container with a lid. This way I can store them for more than two months.

Green Chillies – Remove the stem and keep them in a zip lock or glass bottle. This way you can store them in the refrigerator near about two weeks.

Freezing!

Freezing is my best-loved way to store vegetables and avoid food waste. Except for root vegetables, mushroom, Eggplant, I think we can freeze almost all the vegetables along with the leafy ones. Such as spinach, kale, Fenugreek leaf. But if we want we can wash, cut, shred carrot, beetroot and freeze them. We need to follow all these steps below:

  • Wash them thoroughly with warm and soapy water ( Don’t worry, soapy water won’t harm your health. Make sure you are rinsing the veggies a couple of times )
  • Dry with a piece of cloth
  • Chop/slice/shred them as you require
  • Put them in a zip-lock bag, seal and keep them in the freezer.
Veggies – ready to put in the freezer

We never have to worry about expiration. 

Tomato –  Tomatoes can be stored in the refrigerator for more than a week. I often use tomatoes as a curry base or as a souring agent. When I bought tomatoes in bulk I follow these steps to store them for months.

  • Wash the tomatoes and then blanch them
  • Let them cool and make a puree 
  • Pour them into an ice tray (here I used small muffin tray)
  • Place them in the freezer
  • Remove the frozen cubes and keep them in a plastic or metal container or zip pouch and store them in the freezer.
Tomato cubes

Fruits which I stored in the freezer –  As a family, we are not smoothie lover. We enjoy seasonal fresh fruits which we generally store in the refrigerator. But if we get good deals on berries I like to freeze them. I usually add them to the muffins or cakes. Some times I make mixed berry chutney.

Pickling!

Pickling is my other favourite way to store vegetables. Last week I made this Carrot and cauliflower pickle.

Cool, dark place!

Cool, dark place is best for storing potato and onion for a month. 

let’s talk about Fish, Chicken, Meat, Mince too!

Before I conclude the blogpost would like to share how I preserve proteins. I prefer to buy local fish and try to consume within 3-4 days. But, if you want you can freeze them. For chicken and meat, after buying as soon as possible, I try to wash and marinate them with ginger, garlic and a few spoons of oil. Then I portion them into plastic or metal boxes and freeze them.

Marinated proteins ready to freeze
Marinated proteins ready to freeze

How long we can freeze them?

Check these links for guidance.

  • For Australian guidelines, click here.
  • For Indian guidelines, click here.
  • For USA guidelines, click here.

I hope this post will help you to store food, remember satisfaction and peace come in life from sharing. please make sure you are not hoarding food or any other item. And if you think this post can help someone you know, share it and help us to connect. Stay safe.

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