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Sometimes the garden puts out more excess greens than you can handle at once. Check out these creative ways to use them and save them for later. And how to use other excess produce from the garden here.
There are a ton of types of greens you can grow in the garden. Kale, swiss chard, cabbage and spinach are delicious raw or cooked. Did you know you can eat carrot greens and radish tops too? Greens that need some cooking are wonderful too. Mustard greens collard greens, turnip greens, broccoli and cauliflower leaves are a wonderful addition to the table.
Greens are delicious, but sometimes I don’t want them every single day. When the garden is putting out a ton of them, it’s time to get creative in ways to use the excess greens. I don’t like any nutrition to go to waste, especially if I put effort into growing it.
Using Excess Greens in Smoothies
My kids love this yummy healthy blueberry peach smoothie any time of year.
Whether you are a newbie to green smoothies or a green smoothie lover, this one is sure to tantalize your taste buds with the goodness of greens with tropical flavors. Tropical Green Smoothie
Have kids or a spouse who won’t eat green things? Sneak it in with some berries in this sneaky green smoothie and they’ll never know!
This sweet smoothie bowl gives you a tasty green boost without making you feel like you’re eating grass.
Dishes using excess greens
Kale salad with mango, avocado, and feta. Full of flavor, this salad is perfect as a side dish, or a vegetarian meal.
This healthy vegan Kale Apple Salad is quick, easy, and delicious as a side dish, or add a protein to make it the main dish!
Bacon and orange juice are just the addition that kale needs to make your family beg you to make this kale and bacon salad over and over.
This healthy, gluten-free white bean and kale soup gets an extra boost of flavor from smoked fish, and is a quick and easy dinner option.
This soup uses moringa but kale, spinach, or chard can be used as a substitute – basically use use whatever green you have. Sausage, potato and green soup.
Made using frozen collard greens, this soup is easy to prepare and makes a great weeknight dinner, especially on a chilly autumn evening!
A fun soup for adults and kids, with lots of colors and textures. American Wedding Soup in the instant pot!
Pad See Ew is a wonderful street food of Thailand, found in the open markets using broccoli leaves.
If you have a bunch of fresh carrots, don’t waste those beautiful, edible greens! Instead, make carrot top pesto! Get the easy recipe here, plus ideas for how to use it!
Any greens are delicious sautéed. I like to take a slice of bacon and cut it into small pieces. Cook it until it’s crispy and remove it from the pan. Then I add a chopped onion to the pan and cook until translucent.
Next, add the greens that you have already chopped into small pieces. Cook and stir until they are tender. Spinach and swiss chard take just a minute to cook, cabbage and kale take about 5 minutes, and most of the others take 20 minutes or so to soften up. Once they are soft enough to chew, toss the bacon back in and mix.
Dehydrating vegetables is a wonderful way to preserve them to use later. They lose very little nutrition, other than Vitamin C and they will keep for months. Investing in a good dehydrator is a great way to save a ton of food, but with greens, you don’t even have to use one.
Before you dehydrate your greens, wash them well and dry completely. You can either gather them up by the stems and tie them in bundles to hang to dry, or you can remove the stems and chop them into small pieces and put them in a paper sack. Every few days, shake the sack to stir them up and in a few weeks, you’ll have dried greens. You can also learn more about how to preserve food with dehydration here.
To store the greens, take your bundles down and break them off the stems, or if you used bags you don’t even have to do that, they are ready to go. We dry lots of greens to make green powder to sprinkle in our food all winter long to add nutrients. You don’t even notice they are there, but they give you a boost.
If you want to use a dehydrator to dry your greens faster, get one that has plenty of room because greens start out big. They contain a lot of water, so they shrink a lot, but they take up a lot of room to begin with. The best dehydrator is the one you have. If you don’t have one, use your oven on the lowest temperature.
I always hear the excalibur dehydrator recommended the most.
I use my bread proofer which is 100 degrees to dehydrate food. If your oven won’t go under 130 degrees, you can turn it on the lowest temp and then turn it off. You’ll have to repeat the process a few times, but you don’t want to dehydrate your food at a temperature above 130.
You can freeze greens and get a similar product to use in food. First, wash them well and remove the stems. Then cut the greens into bite size pieces. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and blanch the greens for 30 seconds, then drop them into a bowl of ice water for at least a minute. Drain the greens and place them into freezer containers. I like to freeze them in 1 cup portions so they are easy to use. You can also freeze them in ice cube trays for even smaller portions.
Freezing spinach is similar to other greens. You don’t HAVE to blanch spinach first if you’re going to use it within 6 months. If you plan to store it longer, go ahead and blanch it first.
Kale freezes the same as other greens. There are so many ways you can freeze greens. You can either freeze it in large portions in zip lock bags, or freeze it in small pucks in ice cube trays. These are great for smoothies. You can also freeze your excess greens in small bunches on a cookie sheet and then toss them into bags when frozen.
Another way to freeze greens is to blend them into a liquid type state and freeze that in ice cube trays. This gives you a smoother product to drop into smoothies, soups or stews.
Greens are so versatile and so nutritious. There are a ton of ways to use excess greens from the garden but they all add up to delicious! Don’t let any more greens go to waste. It just takes a few minutes to turn that leftover stuff you don’t know what to do with into a delicious resource for later.
For more ideas for using excess garden produce from your summer garden like tomatoes, cucumbers, and okra, check this out.
And for a complete guide on how to use even more produce, check out How to Use All the Garden Produce You Grow-Without Canning by clicking this link.