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  • Writer's pictureRepublic Food Enterprise Center

Jars Full of Summer: Adding Value to Your Vegetables

Tomatoes have invaded the kitchen at my house.

Up to the ceiling, a constant rotation from the garden to the cutting board to the stock pot to the jars, errant seeds and skins flung everywhere. I’ll be glad when it’s over, and I won’t look at a tomato again for at least a month.

But in a few months, Winter-Time Me will be looking back over her shoulder at Summer-time Me and saying, “Thanks!”

It feels good to know I’ll be opening a jar full of summer when wool sweater weather starts making me itch. The other reward is in knowing that none (well, very few) of the tomatoes in the garden went to waste.

That’s what value-added is all about: getting the most out of your harvest, increasing the value of the work and the product.

Republic Foods is doing the same thing here in the shared use kitchen. Before tomato season, when everyone was up to their ears in cucumbers, it was pickle time back in the kitchen. Green beans poured forth, and we made dilly beans as fast as our kitchen crew, Fran and Jean, could stuff them into jars.

My personal favorite was when they turned an overabundance of cauliflower into RFEC’s famous Roasted Curryflower. Fran and Jean roasted the cauliflowers, packed them in jars with a curry spice blend, topped them off with pickling brine, and now they’re just getting better with age (the cauliflowers and the ladies).

Maybe you have an overabundance in your garden. Don’t let it go to waste! Put it up for later. Youtube has several how-to videos, if you’ve never tried preserving food before. It takes time, but it’s easier than you think and worth every ounce of effort, I promise.

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