The Canny Gardener

how to be a smart gardener


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Freezer tricks

My last post was about summer abundance and how to cook with unripe or extra produce from your garden.  Well, if you don’t want to cook it, you can also freeze it.  In the UK, about 800,000 tonnes of food valued at £2 billion is thrown away annually- 30% of the food thrown away is perfectly usable but we buy too much and throw it.  Six steps to reducing food waste are-

  1. Plan ahead for the week, on a daily basis.  Use coupons and reduced price food wisely- don’t buy reduced price food just because it is reduced and give away coupons you won’t use.
  2. Buy what you need or what you will definitely eat (do try a new food once in awhile!).  Do not be tempted by BOGOFs and money off coupons unless they are about what you would buy anyway.
  3. Store food correctly at the right temperature and place- many food such as bananas and avocados do not need to be stored in the refrigerators.
  4. Cook the right amount. I use things like yoghurt and fruit to supplement if one person says they are hungrier that particular day rather than making more food.
  5. Store leftovers for later use.
  6. If you really must throw, then see if you can compost it.  Many food items such as meat can’t be composted.  Some food can be eaten by pets and animals such as pigs but again check before giving it to them.

About £860 million worth of food is stored in freezers.  We could do more.  Saving food not only saves the planet by keeping down the greenhouse gases but also saves us money.  Freeze food before it goes off and bought food can be frozen on the day of purchase.  Some tips-

  • Check your freezer is below 5C- your chicken and greens will last three days longer.
  • Bread gets stale in the fridge six times faster, so divide your bread and store excess in the freezer.  You can easily defrost it by leaving it out or using the microwave.
  • You can also divide other food into smaller portions for freezing.  Ice cube trays are handy for freezing juices, milk, tomato sauce, herbs into small portions that can used as needed.
  • Cut vegetables into pieces and freeze- these are very handy for quick stir fries.
  • You can also freeze eggs, cheese, chopped bananas, summer fruits and cakes.


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Sage- the ‘wise’ plant

 

Salvia officinalis (sage, also called garden sage, or common sage) is a perennial, evergreen shrub, with woody stems, grayish leaves, and blue to purplish flowers. It is a native of the Mediterranean region, with many medicinal and culinary uses.  It is traditionally used in sage and onion stuffing for turkey or chicken.

Salvia and “sage” are derived from the Latin salvere (to save), referring to the healing properties long attributed to the various Salvia species. It has been used internally (as tea or directly chewed) for treatment of disorders of the respiratory tract, mouth, gastrointestinal tract, and skin.  Other uses are as an antisweating agent, antibiotic, antifungal, astringent, antispasmodic, estrogenic, hypoglycemic, and tonic.  But most of all, I love it because of its hardiness which means I don’t need to do much for it.  But Sage is a generous plant- with its medicinal and culinary uses and now also for ornamental uses.

sage tea

 

This photo shows sage tea which is traditionally offered in many Mediterranean cultures,  especially in the winter for its great benefit in combatting winter colds and congestions.  You may put some honey in it if you like to sweeten it.  I have also used it in my bath, the hot water releases the beneficial oils.  Make sure you always have some sage growing in your garden (mine grows in a pot)!