Too much of a good thing should never go to waste- we share our tips for using up end-of-summer surplus fruits and vegetables.
With Autumn comes harvest, but before we enter the realm of pumpkins and parsnips it’s time to reap the rewards of a summer well-spent in the garden. As September dawns it’s time to take stock of those abundant plants that come in piles. Depending on your location and weather conditions, courgettes, marrows, tomatoes, chillies and aubergines all tend to flourish over the summer.
To make the most of these hardy ingredients and lock up a little bit of sunshine as we descend into chillier climes, we share 10 of our favourite ways to use up a garden glut.
Whether you’ve happened upon some discount plums, or have a handful of cherries from your garden, all shapes and sizes of tomatoes work in this Mediterranean-inspired recipe. Pack the roasted fruit into plenty of olive oil then serve on pizzas, in salads and sauces, or straight from the fridge. They keep for up to a week.
British plums are at peak season between August and October. They come in many varieties, but those that are firm to the touch work best in this moist and spicy traybake, as they keep their shape and create a rustic checkerboard finish. If you don’t have plums, raspberries could work as a replacement.
Marrows are essentially courgettes gone super-sized. This means the flavour is slightly diluted, but as a result its mild and creamy flesh can handle punchy accompaniments. This Italian-inspired dish showcases the marrows distinct striped pattern, and the bacon and chilli sauce adds a nice hit of heat.
The chilli plant is perennial, meaning it lasts for up to two years and can survive winters with a little tender loving care. However if you have a healthy summer crop and would like to savour the heat, whizz up a Middle Eastern spice paste. If you cover this tomato, chilli and spice mix with a little oil after each use, it will keep in the fridge for several months.
Use up a handful of different veg in one fell swoop with these spiral-shaped savouries. We chose aubergines, courgettes and peppers (any colour will work) and layered them with creamy ricotta cheese, pesto and pine nuts. Griddle the vegetables to add a nice smoky char, or if the weather’s good enough, make the most of your barbecue before packing it away for the year.
Native courgette season comes to an end in September. Pick them while they’re young to ensure plenty of flavour, and serve in these savoury muffins with creamy cheese and Mediterranean herbs. The recipe uses up any excess red peppers you may have, too.
Even if you are bereft of your own hedgerow, blackberries, or brambles, can be foraged fairly easily, even in urban areas. They can be frozen or pulped into a coulis, jam or chutney, but we like them baked into this pretty pink sponge cake with meringue topping.
Runner beans are coarser and more flavoursome than green beans, and should be picked in good time as if left for too long they become tough. If you do let your crop run on until winter, any unpalatable beans can be dried for planting the following year. This pasta recipe teams young fresh beans with a piquant olive sauce.
For whenever you need a spoonful of summer flavour during the drab winter months, condense your late-summer glut into a long-life chutney. This version is inspired by a classic French bistro dish and features red peppers, aubergine, courgette and tomato. It also makes use of apples and onions; two thrifty and hardy ingredients.
You can use up your vegetables in sweet recipes too- courgette, carrot, parsnip and even mashed potato can all add moistness and texture to sponge recipes. This loaf cake teams the mild courgette with cinnamon and nutmeg, plus crunchy walnuts and sweet sultanas.
Still not sure what to do with your garden glut? We have more suggestions in our recipe collection. Or if you have a good idea, share it with us below.