We can’t deny it any longer; summer is slowly coming to an end. Fortunately, there is still time to enjoy local produce that is farm fresh and full of flavor. With a quick stop at ShopRite, you can pick up locally grown ingredients to make your family easy and delicious meals. “Locally grown” ShopRite produce is grown on farms within our market area — New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut and Delaware.
Benefits of eating local
Choosing local produce brings many benefits. To start, fruits and vegetables are often more affordable when purchased during their growing season. They also may have more nutrients because the distance traveled from farm to table is much shorter – preserving nutrition along the way. When foods travel shorter distances, less fuel and energy is used to transport them to their destinations. This results in less pollution for a happier planet. Buying local also is a great way to support your local economy. Money spent supporting local farmers and growers stays close to home to the benefit of your community.
Preserving summer’s bounty
A few methods of home preserving are freezing, dehydrating, and canning. By preserving the last of this season’s local produce, you can easily capture the flavors of summer and enjoy them all year long. Preserving foods at home also is a great way to save money. Here is some basic information to get you started:
Freezing is an easy and accessible method of home preservation. This method slows the deterioration of fresh produce by storing at very low temperatures. Local produce such as berries and peaches are good items to freeze. Simply wash, cut into your desired shape and arrange on a baking sheet. Freeze on the baking sheet before transferring to labeled plastic freezer bags for later use. Freeze locally grown herbs by washing, drying, and putting minced fresh herbs into ice cube trays. Once the cubes are frozen, transfer them to a labeled freezer bag. One cube equals 2 tablespoons of the fresh herb. You can keep produce preserved this way in your freezer for up to a year.
Dehydrating foods is a safe, low-cost way to preserve foods. Dehydrating removes all the moisture so that bacteria, mold, and yeast cannot grow, allowing you to store the food for longer periods of time. An electric dehydrator is an appliance that enables you to dehydrate foods at home for a controlled time at a constant temperature. Compared to other methods of drying foods (sunlight or oven), an electric dehydrator is typically faster and more energy efficient. Dehydrated – or dried – foods are great for camping and hiking, after-school snacks, and sending care packages to college students. With a dehydrator you can make apple or kale chips, dried berries, fruit roll-ups, and dried herbs. You can even reconstitute dried produce into soups, sauces, and baby foods! For the best results, consult your dehydrator’s instruction manual.
Canning uses glass jars that have been aseptically sealed using a boiling water bath. To can foods at home, you’ll need a canning kit that includes jars, lids, and tongs, as well as a large pot and lid for boiling water and labels for the jars. Another must-have is pectin, a natural fruit-derived thickener. Often, sugar is added to fruits when canning, but water can replace the sugar for a more healthful result. You also can make no-added-salt canned vegetables by canning them yourself. Local produce ideas for canning are nearly endless – peaches, cherries, berries, pears, apples, asparagus, spinach, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and much more! Once preserved, canned foods should be stored in a cool and dry location for up to a year unopened.
For more instructions on canning, or any home food preservation method, contact ShopRite’s Chef Melissa at 275.7601. Chef Melissa also offers culinary classes at the Capital District ShopRite stores; contact her for the fall schedule.
Summer may be ending, but the delicious and nutritious foods you enjoyed over the warmer months don’t have to disappear with it.
Did you know ShopRite offers complimentary nutrition services from registered dietitians? Contact your ShopRite dietitian for the September calendar of events and more information:
ShopRite of Niskayuna: Sarah Ender MS, RD – 491.0050
ShopRite of Albany: Adrian Alle, RD – 708.3445
ShopRite of Colonie: Amy Imler, RD – 598.4970
ShopRite of Slingerlands: Kristin Caponera, MS, RD, CDN – 708.7815
Simple Zucchini Pasta
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
1 (16 ounce) package ShopRite spaghetti
4 tbsp. ShopRite olive oil, divided
2 medium zucchini, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup grated ShopRite grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup ShopRite plain bread crumbs, toasted
• Bring a large pot of water to boiling. Cook pasta al dent according to package directions. Drain set aside.
• Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Add zucchini; sauté 4 to 5 minutes or until softened. Add garlic; sauté 1 to 2 minutes. Season with pepper to taste.
• Add cooked pasta and remaining 2 tablespoons oil to skillet; toss until well combined. Cook until just heated through. Place pasta in 8 bowls. Sprinkle with Parmesan and bread crumbs, and serve.
Make it a meal: Serve with a white bean and arugula salad.
Serves 8 servings. Nutrition Per Serving: 329 calories, 10g fat, 2g saturated fat, 4mg cholesterol, 139mg sodium, 49g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 11g protein.