Cropshare’s Top Veg Tips are here to help you eat well, enjoy cooking and reduce waste. On our Facebook and Instagram pages, we regularly post recipe ideas, vegetable inspiration and political news around food growing. Each week we email you a Newsletter which can be found archived to our News Page (add link). The newsletter lets you know in advance what’s in your Veg Bag, keeps you up to date with Cropshare events and lists a useful recipe. You can also join Pennine Cropshare’s Community Group on Facebook. Here you can share recipes, creative cooking tips and growing ideas with other friendly Cropshare customers.
Storing your Vegetables
It is important to know how to store vegetables to keep them fresh. Storing your vegetables correctly helps to reduce food waste. Firstly try to collect your Veg Bag as soon as possible on the delivery day to avoid it sitting in hot or cold sheds and shops for too long. When you get home, organise your vegetables and store appropriately.
Root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, beetroot and swede can be kept in a cool, dark, airy place. Items like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflowers, aubergines, peppers, courgettes, mushrooms and leaves, all need to be kept in the fridge. Tomatoes should be kept in the same way as fruit, in a bowl on the kitchen surface.
Leafy or harvested greens like kale, chard, spinach, purple sprouting broccoli and salad leaves should be sorted and washed as soon as you get them home, and stored in recycled plastic bags or tupperware and kept in the fridge.
What to Eat First
In order to avoid food waste, it is worth thinking about what vegetables you should eat first. Some vegetables last longer, and store better than others. Always eat your leafy greens first! Washing them and storing them correctly will extend their freshness, but they still need to be eaten first. Farmer Will provides us with delicious salad leaves from Long CauseWay Market Garden above Todmorden, it’s easy to eat salad leaves and lettuce with most meals in Spring and Summer. Sometimes it can be tricky to know what to do with big bags of harvested leaves like kale, chard or spinach. These types of leaves are great added at the last minute to curries and stews. Alternatively they can be steamed lightly, dressed with olive oil or butter, seasoning and served simply as a side dish. A firm favourite with the Cropshare team is to make homemade Pesto with your leafy greens. Fennel frond pesto with walnuts is delicious!
How to Prepare your Vegetables
We all want to eat delicious, healthy food, but we don’t always want to spend hours every evening slaving over a hot stove.
Here are Cropshare’s Top 5 Kitchen Hacks -
- Tray Bakes - Give your veg a good scrub clean and roughly chop (no need to peel). Drizzle with your favourite oil, add garlic, chilli and a combination of herbs and spices, then roast. It’s not just root vegetables that can be roasted, leeks, broccoli, cauliflower are all delicious when roasted.
- Soups - We love a hearty, healthy soup at Cropshare, it gets us through the cold winter packing days in our un-heated depot! Blended soups, chunky soups, they are all great. Almost every vegetable combined with a good stock, seasoning, herbs and spices will make a lovely nutritional soup.
- Salads - All year round your Cropshare veg is suitable for making healthy salads. In Summer we enjoy fresh salad leaves with tomatoes and lightly steamed green beans, in Winter, potato salad and coleslaws are great.
- One Pot Wonders - Curries, stews, casseroles, chillies, risotto, soup… Chuck it all in a pot, cook on the hob, in a slow cooker or in the oven. Great for batch cooking and freezing.
- Preserving, pickling and fermenting - Persevering and storing jars of jam, chutney and pickle was once an essential way of saving and managing a glut of food. Excitingly it is becoming popular again with fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut trending. Making your own is much easier than you think. With a fancy jar of kimchi costing around £5, it is much cheaper to pickle your own Cropshare cabbages!
Batch Cooking and Freezing
We tend to live very busy lives, often the thought of scrubbing vegetables and cooking dinner can just seem like too much sometimes. Batch cooking is a great way to have a supply of home-cooked, plastic free ready meals in the freezer. Most one pot wonders, like soups, curries, chillies and casseroles will freeze well. Cooking an extra big pot of food doesn’t take much longer to prepare, you can eat half and freeze half in individual portions ready for the “can’t be bothered” days. Batch cooking helps manage a glut of vegetables that need to be used up.
You can also freeze leafy greens like kale, chard and spinach. As they sometimes lose their freshness quickly, freezing them can be a great way to store them and use at your convenience. Blanching is often recommended when you look up freezing vegetables. At Cropshare, our experienced growers and cooks think that blanching isn’t always necessary and can be time consuming. We suggest you wash the leaves thoroughly, chop up if so desired, then freeze in recycled plastic bags or tupperware.
Naughty but Nice
Sometimes you just fancy chips or a slice of cake! At Cropshare we have developed excellent ways to make root vegetable chips, one particular favourite being Swede, parmesan and rosemary chips. Never again will you pull a face at your undervalued, knobbly swede. Here’s the recipe link.
Every decision at Cropshare, is made over a slice of cake and a strong coffee. It’s also the secret behind our speedy packing. Vegetable themed cakes are our speciality…. Parsnip and Maple Syrup Cake , Chocolate, Beetroot and Rose Cake, Apple and Butternut Squash Muffins and Swede Chocolate Brownies are just a few of our favourite things. We all need a sweet treat now and again!
Useful Kitchen Utensils
You don’t need to spend a fortune on fancy kitchen gadgets, there are however a few useful items we recommend to make life in the kitchen easier.
Our vegetables can be mucky, so a good scrubber is a must. We recommend the Eco Coconut Scourers, they last for a good 6mths to a year. When they finally die, you can throw them in the compost bin.
A simple salad spinner is a great investment. You can give your leafy greens a good wash, and spin them dry before using or storing. We find washing in cold water and spinning leaves helps keep them crisp and fresh.
A decent stick blender or food processor is great for making soup, pesto, sauces and smoothies. These range in price considerably, from Nutribullets to Ninja Nutris, it depends on your budget what you choose to buy. If you are on a budget, you can pick up a fairly decent stick blender for around about £25 - £35.
Spiralizers are great for making attractive looking salads out of carrots, cucumber and beetroot. If you are lowering your carb intake, they make fantastic courgetti spaghetti too.
We also recommend investing in a good quality vegetable peeler and a sharp knife or two!