Why freezing extra produce from your garden is a good idea
Hospital's experts tout the virtues of freezing and experimenting
As summer draws to a close, amateur produce growers across the suburbs may be wondering what to do with their bounties of fruits, vegetables and herbs.
Well, the folks at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital's Center for Health and Integrative Medicine shared some wonderfully tasty -- and healthy -- ideas Wednesday.
Salsa, pesto and caprese skewers were just a few of the dishes employees whipped up using produce grown at their homes or at the Barrington-area facility's community garden.
Dr. Lori Walsh, the center's medical director, said growers should develop plans for what to do with their produce now that it's harvest time. Canning or freezing fresh fruits or vegetables, or dishes made with them, are perfectly acceptable, she said.
Freezing produce doesn't reduce its nutritional value -- and the process might keep the food fresher than what you buy at the grocery store, Walsh said.
Turning tomatoes into tomato sauce and then putting containers into the icebox until they're needed is a great option, she said. So is freezing pesto in ice cube trays.
"If I have a soup that doesn't have that oomph, I just add some pesto," Walsh said.
For Wednesday's event, Good Shepherd social worker Sharon Jensen made caprese skewers using basil and grape tomatoes from her home garden, along with small balls of mozzarella cheese and splashes of balsamic vinegar.
Jensen said it's therapeutic to "work in the dirt, work with your hands."
"And it's also a nice creative outlet," she said.
The demonstration was held outside the West Pavilion beneath a shade screen. Employees dropped in and out to pick up small plates of snacks and cups of homemade beverages -- although they had to compete with yellowjackets drawn by the strong scents.
Walsh said home growers shouldn't be afraid to try new recipes with their produce.
"If it doesn't work, try it again," she said.
She also suggested people turn to YouTube for tips.