When you produce your own food there will inevitably come a time when there is some spare to share. We all have times when we have an excess of something in the cupboard. A time when;
- the home produce has been bountiful and you are drowning in a particular fruit or vegetable
- you've made some jam and have more jars than you can eat in a year
- you were tempted by a special offer and bought more than you can possibly eat
- planned a special event, party or celebration and been left with a lot of uneaten food - in our case any time we have a BBQ and invited friends who all bring something to throw on the "barbie"!!
What you do with it will depend on the volume of food you have available and whether it needs eating up immediately or can be portioned up and eaten later.
For small amounts of cooked food, or the odd extra portion, we keep a stack of single portion airtight containers that can be frozen. The contents of these then form the base ingredients for lunches we can take to work. In fact many of our main meals involve producing an extra portion for this very reason - it is much more cost effective to cook and store leftovers for lunch than it is to buy food in especially. However if you think you will be using it in a day or two and 3 weeks later you find it in the back of the fridge uneaten, you will be no better off! Any risk that it will be there for more than day or two then it should go in the freezer. Make sure you label and date the container though. I guarantee you will clear out the freezer one day and find something that has lurked there for years.
I find the best way to manage an abundance is simply to share it with others. It is not unheard of for us to have a gathering of close family, friends and neighbours the day after a party to eat up leftovers, and help with the clearing up! When we have an abundant crop we try to distribute any we can't use around our family, friends, neighbours and collegues, who are always greatful for our gifts. As a family we have always been avid supporters of the local comminity fete by donating cake, sweets, jams, chutneys and pickles. You can bet many of these will have been made using surplus seasonal offerings. Here are some of the things we and others we know do to share their spares;
- Have a home produce table at work - bring and share
- Home produce exchange at a local restaurant - bring in your fruit and veg in exchange for a food or drink voucher
- Honesty table outside their home - a table of home produce with either an honesty box for monetary donations or just a sign "Help yourself"
- Having a table at the local farmers or produce market, remember you may need to contact your local authority before you sell food, and if you want to support your favourite charity make it a fund raiser. If you have an allotment get together with others from the allotment site to add volume and variety to the food on offer.
- Food and ingredients donated to a charity or support group who cook food for the poor, homeless or needy
- A box of locally produced fruit and veg on sale at a village Post Office
- Donate items to your local village or school fete
- Take a table at a car boot sale
Remember it is not necessarily a bad thing to buy extra fresh fruit and veg when it is cheeply available in season, or has been reduced because the store ordered more than they can sell within date. This is a great, and cost effective way, of getting the ingredients you need for your home preserves, jams and chutneys. check out our section on making your own preserves for more guidance. Preserves make excellent gifts for birthdays and Christmas. Just remember that there is only so much you can get through in one season! If you make more than you can use then you will be back to managing an abundance and giving it or throwing it away not making a saving at all.