It is prime picking season here, and so my kitchen has been over run with various bushel baskets, and spackling buckets when necessary with vegetables. It seems we no more than finish one variety, have time to clean the kitchen and its on to the next. My dad's garden has done quite well this year, and so we are reaping a good harvest! Usually we get enough to help supplement our groceries, and this year has been about that. However we personally have benefited from a friend who gardens and sells their produce. You see when this friend has his workers pick vegetables the 'perfect' vegetables goes into one bucket/basket, and the not so perfect goes into another. Not so perfect vegetables (or fruit) must be picked because it a) attracts hungry birds to partake, or b) spoils the rest of the surrounding produce. Not so perfect can be something that has 'just' gone by (by like 10 minutes I swear) or something that is bruised.
Take for instance broccoli - Broccoli reaches a certain point that if it is not picked it will begin to flower and go to seed. YUCK if it actually gets the flowers & seeds. Not worth eating. However, it's just a day past it's still quite good! Said farmer though can't sell this 'day old' vegetable because most people just won't buy it. They try to donate some to area shelters & food pantry's but that requires storage on their part, and delivery on the part of the farmer (which in this business can be quite time consumming!) Enter my family. We have been given by this farmer friend of ours broccoli, tomatoes & corn. The broccoli was picked a day late, and it's still just fine. I froze about 50 bags of broccoli. (And at the rate my kids eat broccoli, we'll go thru it all!) Two nights ago I froze 54 ears of corn. You know why? It was picked the day before and so no one would buy it!!!! Seriously that was the reason! People - when you get it at the grocery store it's more than a day old!!! Today I'm working on tomatoes. I'm about ready to toss 'em, but I'm trying desperately to find a way to can these beautiful tomatoes that have been bumped by something. They won't look great on a sandwich, but will make a mean spaghetti sauce this winter when it's cold. So my frugal suggestion - stop by your local farmers stand or farmers market. Ask if they have any of yesterday's produce they'd be willing to sell you at a discount. They may not have any that day, but may tell you to come back at a certain time. Of course be prepared to do something with two bushel's of green beans, or 75 ears of corn!