Last week I tried the Bountiful Baskets food co-op, and along with the standard basket of produce, they also sometimes have the option of buying in bulk. I bought a box of 25 pounds of nectarines.
One of my top tips for eating organics on a budget is to buy in bulk. I paid under $18 for 25 pounds of nectarines, around $0.70 per pound–but what do you do with 25 pounds of anything??
When buying in bulk, eat what you can and freeze the rest…
First and foremost, we ate nectarines like it was our job! After about 2 days of sitting in the box they arrived in, they were absolutely perfect! My daughter and I ate them breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert happily! But unless you have a really big (or REALLY hungry) family, that’s not going to get you anywhere near using 25 pounds before they start to go off.
When the fruit was at the height of perfection, I dedicated about 2 hours one morning to blanching, peeling, slicing, and vacuum sealing them for the freezer. I was able to do about 8 pounds in that amount of time.
Buying in Bulk Tip: When you have a big batch of fruit or vegetables, put some of it up in as close to its natural form as possible. You might think 8 quarts of nectarine jam sounds great now, but you’ll get mighty sick of it before you’re done! Freezing some or canning them plain will give you LOTS more options as you use them up.
…then cook some for now and later…
We spent the next week enjoying more nectarines fresh (and we gave a couple of pounds to a friend), but by the end of the week, I knew it was time to finish them up. I had a little less than half the box remaining, and a few at the very bottom were starting to bruise and turn.
I picked out the prettiest ones that were left and decided to make a nectarine almond fruit tart recipe. WOW! So pretty and utterly delicious.
Buying in Bulk Tip: Depending on the type of fruit or veggie you have to use up, baking can be a great choice. Things like muffins, scones, and quick breads will freeze beautifully. But be warned: recipes like this never use as much as you think they will. (I only used 4 nectarines in my tart!) But, you can think ahead: mini loaves of zucchini bread make great gifts for any occasion, and having blueberry (or whatever!) muffins you can pull out at a moment’s notice could turn an ordinary breakfast into something special.
…And finally, jam out!
Finally, left only with the slightly wizened and bruised remainders, I decided to make nectarine jam with lavender. Personally, I like small batch canning because it doesn’t take as long to cook or process, and you don’t have as much of the same thing to eat up. This recipe makes just 3 pints—the perfect amount, in my opinion.
In the end, I only had to compost about 5 nectarines out of the entire bunch! I’ll be getting many miles out of this box of fruit for many months to come—and for pennies on the dollar compared to what I might have spent.
Do you have a favorite recipe for using up bulk purchases? Give us a link in the comments below!