As I bask in the sunshine at my local farmer’s market these days, I feel the slightest twinge of worry, knowing the delightful organic berries, cherries, peaches are not going to last through fall. But this year, I’m changing my strategy–I’m bringing my favorite fruits right into wintertime with me. I’m starting now, and I’m trying to save money while I do it.
It’s all about preservation. Preserving foods, that is.
Some foods cost way more when they’re organic, but some don’t. My friend Janice did an interesting comparison of organic vs. conventional milk, eggs, OJ, and a couple other staples here in California, and while her results showed that several products are relatively competitive, I’ve found that when it comes to organic peaches and berries, it can be trickier to find a good deal. Since these are my favorite foods and my kids cannot live without them, I’m on a mission to find ways to buy lots–for cheap.
Aside from growing my favorite fruits in my garden, here are three more cost-effective strategies for finding cheaper organic fruit:
1. U-Pick Berries
This is a fantastic event for the whole family. We visit a local organic berry farm with a big group of relatives or friends, and we picked berries until our fingers and feet ached. Last year we harvested 17 pounds of blackberries! We froze about 10 pounds worth and ate blackberries until the end of winter.
It’s SO easy to freeze berries:
Without washing the berries, lay them out one layer thick on a cookie sheet. Freeze until hard, sweep into a plastic freezer bag, seal and store. Repeat and repeat again. When you’re ready to use them, take them out of the freezer, wash them off and let them come to room temperature. Delicious with yogurt and granola!
2. End-of-Farmer’s Market Deals
Although I like to buy most of my farmer’s market goodies at the beginning of the market, I sometimes try to stop by at the end of the day to buy strawberries, raspberries, peaches, cherries and blueberries that haven’t sold. Some vendors are willing to offload berries at a cheaper rate at this time, so I buy whatever they have when it’s at a discount. Then, I bring it home and I freeze them or make jam.
3. Wait for in-store sales and binge-purchase
When food is local and in season, it can be delicious – even from the grocery store. So, when organic peaches hit $1.99/pound, I test one to make sure it’s as tasty as the farmer’s market variety and if it passes the test, I buy loads and loads of them. Then, I freeze whatever we cannot eat in the first 3 days.
Have any other summertime secrets for extending organic produce into the fall? Post them below.