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Keeping fresh fruits and veggies on hand

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Posted: Tuesday, July 17, 2012 11:59 pm | Updated: 12:02 am, Wed Jul 18, 2012.

Planning

What is your fresh-food philosophy? Organic? Locally-sourced? Trying to get the most mileage out of your dollar?

No matter what your answer said Pattie Case, an associate professor with the Oregon State University Klamath Basin Research and Extension Center, it should involve meal planning.

Case said her meals often include fruits and vegetables — fresh, when they’re available in the summer and autumn — or frozen and canned. She can expect to buy fresh corn on the cob next month, she said, and frozen corn later in the year.

“And my meals will reflect that,” she said.

At Staunton Family Farm Organic Garden, a Community Supported Agricultural operation near Tulelake, plenty of spinach remains from the farm’s June 21 to July 12 growing cycle.

It’s one of the leafy greens CSA co-manager Courtney Staunton will plan on adding to her food throughout the year.

Staunton, who spends most her year at college, said she’s web-dependent. She takes inventory of ingredients she has in the home and plans meals around them, or uses her knowledge of what’s available in local stores to look for recipes on sites like epicurious.com.

“There’s so much available on the internet, in terms of what you can look up,” she said.

■ Learn the growing seasons. Plan meals around what’s available from stores. Produce and some meat is less expensive when it’s in season. In the grocery stores, for example, domestic tomatoes are available year-round — typically grown in Florida during the winter and California during the summer, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture website. But prices may reflect whether those tomatoes had to be trucked in all the way from Florida.

■ Try new things. In Klamath Falls, said Case and Staunton, eating in-season foods may mean buying kale or chard at a farmer’s market. If those foods aren’t in your repertoire, you’ll have to look up recipes that accommodate them, Case said.

Preserving

At the end of the growing season, when Courtney Staunton of Staunton Family Farm Organic Garden, a Community Supported Agricultural operation has more veggies than she knows what to do with, she knows she’ll have food through the winter.

Processing, storing and preserving fruit and vegetables prolongs harvested items well past when the season for fresh green salads has passed.

Kale goes in the dehydrator, she said, to become chips. Tomatoes will become sauce and basil made into pesto for use on pasta.

Leaves of spinach, which has flourished this year at Staunton Family Farm Organic Garden, will be frozen.

“And that’s really been wonderful,” said Staunton, who co-manages the community-supported agricultural operation with her sister. “I throw them in with scrambled eggs, and stuff like that.”

Pattie Case, an associate professor with the Oregon State University Klamath Basin Research and Extension Center, said canning is a good way to preserve some meat and produce, and her meals reflect what’s available in her house — fresh produce in the summer and canned goods or soupstock during the winter.

“A lot of it has to do with how you store it,” she said.

Purchasing at the peak of freshness

■ A list of Oregon crops and when they’re in season is available from the Agri-Business Council of Oregon at http://oregonfresh.net/local-products/whats-in-season/.

■ For more information about nutrition or food preserving classes, visit the Oregon State University Klamath Basin Research and Extension Center website at http://oregonstate.edu/dept/kbrec/.

■ Lists of community-supported agriculture (CSA) operations, farmer’s markets and other locally-created or sourced items are available at http://klamathlakefoodexplorer.wordpress.com and http://www.localharvest.org.

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