Early summer produce

Produce available at farmers markets and in Michigan gardens in June.

Produce is starting to pop up in gardens and farmers markets. Many types of produce that are readily available in June and early July are green in color and include: arugula, beet greens, Asian greens, other greens including beet, collard, mustard and turnip, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, leeks and spinach.

Store greens in the refrigerator in moist paper towels sealed in a plastic bag. Whether you purchase these items at the farmers markets, the grocery store, or grown your own, be sure to wash them in cold, running water right before using them unless the product has been designated on the labeled as pre-washed. Washing removes any dirt clinging to the leaves; it’s not appetizing to bite into a leaf that is gritty with sand!

Greens, such as collard, mustard, turnip and kale, are a great source of vitamin K. They also contain other nutrients such as calcium, vitamin A and fiber. When choosing greens, look for dark green leaves that are not limp or wilted and have green edges.

Michigan State University Extension recommends preserving greens such as spinach, swiss chard, mustard and collard by freezing. Green’s should be prepared for freezing by blanching. Blanching is a process of immersing greens into a pot of rapidly boiling water for a short period of time. As soon as the blanching time is complete, the greens are placed in ice cold water to stop the cooking process immediately. The purpose of blanching is to destroy enzymes that can produce undesirable changes in color and texture while in the freezer.

For more ideas and information, check out the Michigan Fresh website. There is information on preparing all types of Michigan produce including recommended varieties, storage, food safety and preserving techniques for fruits and vegetables or for planting and maintaining your lawn and garden. To learn how to prepare kale for your family, check out the Michigan Fresh video on kale preparation.