I popped out to the store today to pick up some refreshments for our homeschooling gathering tomorrow, and when I was there saw some veggies on sale. There are vegetables on sale, and then there are veggies that are super cheap. These were in the latter category – on the reduced rack.
There was a point that I shunned reduced produce racks, thinking they were semi rotten vegetables that the store owner was still trying to crank some profit from. But I’ve since learned that often there is just an overstock of a given vegetable and they want to sell the produce quickly before it goes bad. I stay away from produce that looks really bad, since I don’t find it worth my time or money to cut away all the yukky spots.
To find these reduced racks, look for small privately owned markets that discount produce substantially when it’s ripe or a little overripe. I’ve found a local Asian market and a Russian market both have these, along with another local smallish store.The large supermarkets very rarely have these sections -I’ve only twice in years found reduced produce at national chains – both times ripe (not overripe) bananas. They just throw away anything with imperfections.
The challenge with reduced produce is that it has a short shelf life, and you need to use it pretty promptly. For a family like ours, that’s not usually a problem, since the kids love fruits and vegetables and go through it fast. But sometimes I’ve gotten carried away by the super cheap prices and gotten too much, and then had to make a real effort to use it so it didn’t go bad.
Now that I’ve learned about making fermented vegetables, I don’t have that kind of pressure anymore. Today I bought a lot of tomatoes and peppers, and then prepared two quarts of tomato pepper relish when I got home (you’d be amazed how many plum tomatoes you have to use to fill up a two quart jar!). I also added some tomatoes to the batch of salsa I made, which was way too spicy for my taste. (My policy is to make a recipe the first time as it’s written, so I know what it’s supposed to taste like before I make my adaptations to it.) It’s nice that I can just add some vegetables to already fermented vegetables and then put it back on the shelf to ferment some more.
My dd13 made two versions of cortido (Latin American sauerkraut), using the pineapple vinegar we made as the fermenting agent instead of sea salt for two quarts and sea salt for the other two quarts. (The pineapple vinegar was interesting and easy to make – you put the core and skin of a pineapple in a jar with some oregano and water to cover, and let it sit out, covered for 3 days. Then strain it out and voila – pineapple vinegar!)