Tips to make your produce last

Summer is a great season to shop for fresh, local produce, and in case you missed our last article Niki Strealy, a registered dietitian nutritionist at Providence Sports Medicine, shared the benefits of shopping at farmers markets in your community. In this article, Niki gives her take on how to select the best produce and tips for making it last. Her number one rule to ensure freshness is not to wash the produce until you are ready to eat it. This prevents premature molding. Read on and watch this video to get more produce tips from our expert.

Berries: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries

  • Spice up your morning cereal or smoothies or afternoon salad with some fresh berries
  • When freezing berries, place them on a tray in the freezer first, then when solidly frozen transfer to a freezer bag or container to prevent freezing in a big clump.

Stone fruits: peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums, cherries

  • Choose fruit that is firm, but not too hard, with no soft spots
  • Buy in different stages of ripeness, so they are not all ripe the same day to avoid waste
  • Great for fruit salad, smoothies, a topping for ice cream, or in a cobbler or pie
  • Slice and freeze on sheet tray for later use
  • Can in jars


  • Make marinara out of surplus tomatoes, use a food dehydrator, or make oven-dried tomatoes (see recipe below)
  • You can pickle them, too


  • Veggies past their prime like cauliflower, broccoli, chard, and celery often have stalks or cores that can be used to make a rich soup
  • Zucchini, squash, broccoli, okra, asparagus and green beans can be blanched and frozen for later use
  • Great for pickling: cucumber, green beans, okra, asparagus, beets, cabbage, carrots, peppers

Recipe: Oven Dried Tomatoes


2 pounds tomatoes

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees or the lowest setting.
  2. Cut tomatoes lengthwise. Place on a wire rack over a baking tray (with edges). Tomatoes should be flesh/seed side up and skin side down.
  3. Mix salt and sugar together, then sprinkle evenly over the tomatoes.
  4. Bake tomatoes until they are slightly tough and skin is shriveled. This takes about 12-14 hours (overnight is best).
  5. Cool tomatoes on the wire racks. Check and make sure there is no more dampness in them by squeezing and looking for beads of moisture. If the tomatoes are still moist, dry for several more hours. Then cool and re-check.
  6. Once they are fully dehydrated, they can be stored airtight containers or bags in the pantry or freezer.

Author: Niki Strealy, RDN, LD


See more articles from a full Pick of the Week series on summer nutrition:

4 Ways to Stay Hydrated this Summer

Fresh Tips for the Farmers Market

New Possibilities with Produce Delivery

About the Author

We are all about food! The Providence Nutrition Team loves to talk about and share our expertise on how to help you find the right diet, food types and maintenance tactics to help you live life to the fullest...while also enjoying the best foods that mother nature has to offer.

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