Using All of the Harvest



As a homesteader, I am always trying to figure out ways to use things before they go to the landfill or compost pile. While I love that all of the nutrients from my home grown produce can go to nourishing the compost that eventually nourishes my family, I have always loved just the simple idea of throwing less away. I’m not nearly as good about it as I’d like to be, but my thinking is slowly moving in that direction.

Using All of the Harvest - Stone Family Farmstead

Over the past few years I’ve gathered a few tried and true ideas that I like to use regularly with the carrots and mint that I grow every year, and the strawberries that our family purchases every summer. It has always seemed like such a waste to throw up to half of a harvested plant away, but I never knew why or what to do about it. When I began composting, I thought I had found my answer to less waste—and I did. However, learning that there were things I could do with fruit, vegetable and herb scraps before they go into the compost absolutely revolutionized my thinking.

I’ve mastered this with a few of the vegetables, fruits, and herbs that I grow, but I can even use these methods with store-bought produce. Organic produce is always best and can be used to its fullest, but non-organic will give the same results, but remember that your end product will have the pesticides in it.

Carrots

Your carrot harvest is one of the most versatile harvests that you will ever have. Carrots can be eaten fresh with dips, sautéed into stir fry, steamed or boiled as a side dish, canned or dehydrated for soups or sides, frozen in shreds for future carrot cakes, fed whole or in slices to our livestock, and used in so many other ways.

When harvesting your carrots, make sure to save the greens to feed to your livestock, or in your family’s salad. High in calcium, carrot greens should be fed sparingly to livestock that are suffering urinary issues. It is said that carrot greens have antiseptic and diuretic properties, which opens up a whole new way of thinking about this root vegetable. Carrot greens can be dehydrated and used in place of parsley in your recipes. Used as an herb, it adds a slightly carroty flavor to your dishes without being overpowering.

Dehydrating Carrot Greens

After removing greens from your carrots, sift through and remove all dead leaves from the bunch. Submerge your carrot greens in a sink full of water and swish around. Allow to sit in water for a few minutes to allow any dirt to sink to the bottom. Remove your greens, gently squeezing excess water out. Place them on a clean kitchen towel and pat as much water out of the greens as you can. Separate small sprigs and leaves from larger stems and layer as flat as you can on your dehydrator trays. Dry at 95 degrees until dry and crumbly.

Strawberries

Strawberries are fantastic, as we all know, and flavorful, summer strawberries are one fruit we can’t get enough of. A bounty of strawberries can be eaten fresh, added to salads, preserved in jams, dehydrated in slices or made into lovely fruit leather. There really are endless choices as to all the ways that we can enjoy summer strawberries!

In addition to the abovementioned ways that we can enjoy this fantastic fruit, did you know that there are a few uses for the tops as well? . Before we send our strawberry scraps off to our compost piles, there are a couple of stops that they can make along the way. According to April Lewis of An Apple a Day Wisdom, they can be macerated with sugar and lemon and made into a fantastic strawberry syrup. I do this often during the summer and use the syrup to flavor my kombucha or my kids’ lemonade. Another way I use strawberry tops is to feed them as a treat to my most grateful chickens, or in this nutritious herb salad for my rabbits.

Kale, Swiss Chard, Fennel and Strawberry Salad - Stone Family Farmstead

Kale, Swiss Chard, Fennel and Strawberry Salad

NOTES: Kale, chard and fennel are vegetables that should make up 75% of your rabbit’s fresh portion of food each day. It is recommended to feed 1 packed cup for every 2 pounds of your rabbit’s body weight per day. This recipe will make just over 1.25 cup of vegetables, so you could adjust the amounts of kale, chard, and fennel up if you have a heavier rabbit, however, do not adjust the amount of strawberries up as strawberries are a high sugar fruit and should only be eaten in small quantities as an occasional treat.

½ cup kale (any variety)
½ cup swiss chard (high in oxalic acid)
¼ cup diced fennel (tops or base are fine)
2 tbsp strawberry tops

Chop all leaves and fennel into bite size pieces, toss together, and feed to your rabbits immediately, or refrigerate and feed within a few hours (do not allow salad to wilt or your rabbits may not eat it).

Mint

Prolific mint doesn’t take too many seasons to find its home anywhere in your garden that it wants to, so naturally, if allowed to grow, we will have a lot of it. Thankfully, mint is a fantastic herb with both culinary uses and medicinal qualities, which makes it quite a versatile plant to have an abundance of on hand. Mint can be made into hot or iced tea using dried or fresh leaves, syrups to flavor your drinks, jellies to assist your lamb dishes, as a fly, mite, and vermin deterrent, and the raw leaves can be chewed on to freshen your breath.

After you strip your stems from all of the ‘perfect’ leaves, you can use the remaining leaves and stems to line your hutch tray to keep flies away from your rabbit’s hindquarters, aiding in preventing flystrike. Line your chickens’ nesting boxes to keep mites out of the area where they lay their eggs, and on the floor of the coop to deter other pests. Strip all of the leaves of the stems to make these natural and healthy toys for your non-lactating rabbits.

Mint Sprig Chewable Rabbit Toys - Stone Family Farmstead

Mint Sprig Chewable Rabbit Toys

Put all of your stems into the water to wash them off. Let them dry in your dehydrator or air dry. Bundle dried stems with short pieces of cotton yarn (make sure to trim off any long ends before you give them to bunny).

I do hope that my ideas have helped jog your thinking in the area of using kitchen scraps creatively. I know I’ll never look at kitchen scraps again without wondering about the stops they can make before they make their final home in the compost bin!

This article was first published in From Scratch Magazine‘s June/July 2014 issue.

Shared at Homestead Blog Hop, Wildcrafting Wednesday, Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop, Green Thumb Thursday, Weekend Blog Hop, Awesome Life Friday, Farm Girl Friday, From the Farm, Front Porch Friday, Old Fashioned Friday, Simply Natural Saturday, Good Morning Mondays, Mostly Homemade Mondays, Make Your Home Sing Monday, Homemade Mondays, The Art of Homemaking Mondays, Tuesday Garden Party, MisAdventures Mondays, Dream. Create. Inspire. Link. Party



 
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Kristi Stone

Kristi Stone

Honestly? I'm the author of this blog...sometimes. My family and I live in Sunny Southern California on a one acre hobby farm where we are working diligently to one day produce our dairy, eggs, and produce. That takes A LOT of work, so if you don't hear from me as soon as you'd like, give me a shout out in the comments and I'll chat back as soon as I can between the garden, goat kids, chickens, husband, human kids, and playing with my grandboy, Kieran. And in the mean time, if you'd like to see more frequently what goes on at our farm, please feel free to join my Facebook group (see the right column) where I am more active. I'd love to get to know you! 🙂
Kristi Stone

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Comments

  1. What a great site! I came over on the Link up on Friday site today, and I’m glad to find you.

    I pinned a few of your pins to this link: https://www.pinterest.com/melredd/blog-link-parties-and-blog-link-ups/

    And, thanks for sharing all of the great ideas for using all of the harvest. The strawberry salad looks really yummy.
    Anything with fresh mint is wonderful as well.

    Hope you and your family have a nice 4th~
    Blessings to you,
    Melanie

  2. What a helpful post Kristi! I also use my carrot tops to make pesto–and it freezes well.

    • Oh–very cool! I haven’t yet ventured into the pesto world, but I really ought to. I’m barely getting my toes wet in the hummus world, so once I get that down, pesto is next! Thanks for sharing your idea!

  3. You know, you taught me about using the strawberry tops a while ago, and I had never thought about it before! To this day, I make strawberry syrup when I am preparing my strawberries for canning, freezing or dehydrating! You have so many great ideas for using the whole part of the food, thanks!!!! I am glad you added this to From The Farm, it’s again an inspiration!

  4. Great post….now I have even more reasons to get some rabbits!

    Thanks for linking up with Green Thumb Thursday. We hope to see you again this week!

    Lisa

  5. Wonderful ideas, beautifully presented! I was happy to pin and share – thank you for linking up at From the Farm Hop today. Do you have social media buttons for your site – I’d like to follow you but don’t see them. I see them on the post, but not general ones for your blog. Cheers!

    • Hey Tessa! No, I sure don’t. I’m doing this social media-less for now, and it’s actually been great for my bounce rate and readership. 🙂 If you’d like to follow me, the only option I have is subbing to my blog. If you’d like to do that, you can do that at the top right in the sidebar. Thank you so very much for sharing, I really appreciate it!

  6. I had no idea you can use the tops of carrots and strawberries! So cool!

  7. there. and it’s even more scary if you think that BBC, the biggest news apparatus in the world, it’s even worse.the fact that the Mohamed cartoons were reprinted in 17 papers in Denmark seems like a normal reaction in a normal world. but in this sick world, normalcy is the exception

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