bumper crop of tomatoes and okra overhead

100+ Ideas to Eat (or Preserve) the Summer Bumper Crop from Your Garden

Too many tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, or berries? Try these ideas.
By Sheena Chihak
July 09, 2021

Gardening at home is a hands-on way to help feed your family, practice sustainability, a fun way to exercise, and an outlet for coping with stress. In 2020 we saw the boom of "pandemic gardens" as people started growing their own food to avoid shortages, make fewer trips to the store, and simply as a hobby while spending more time at home. Fruit and veggie seeds sold at record levels and according to the National Gardening Association (NGA), 35% of families in the U.S. grow vegetables, fruit, and other food at home. The trend doesn't seem to be going anywhere in 2021, either.

If you're growing food at home successfully, there's often a time in each food's peak season where you end up with a bounty of produce you simply can't seem to eat fast enough. Let us help you find delicious ways to use up all kinds of amazing summer vegetables and fruits. And if you still have a surplus of produce, use our preserving methods to keep the literal fruits of your labor stocked to enjoy year-round.

Veggie Love

Home gardeners are crazy for tomatoes (yes, tomatoes are technically fruits, but we treat them like vegetables for culinary purposes). The NGA reports that tomatoes are the most popular crop grown at home—grown by 86% of home gardeners. Cucumbers, beans, carrots, and peppers round out the top 5 most popular veggies grown at home. Whip up something delicious starring one or more of the vegetables from that list using our recipes. We're also including ideas for zucchini because it can grow so fast in warm weather resulting in a very large bounty.

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Our Favorite Fruits

Home gardeners in the U.S. tend to vary their fruit crops more by growing region, but berries are the favorite. Gabion Reviews reports that in 2020 the top grown fruits in the U.S. were blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries (see, all the berries), followed by apple, peach, and cherry trees. Even though we tend to think of apples as a fall fruit, you can start harvesting them as early as late July and early August—when it sure still feels like summer outside. Use our ideas to find new ways to cook with your garden fruits.

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Save It for Later

When you've shared the goodies from your garden with family, neighbors, and coworkers and made produce-packed recipe after produce-packed recipe, but still have more fruits and vegetables than you can use, it's time to preserve them. With all the home gardening and preserving going on in 2020 we experienced a canning supply shortage, but that's been leveling out and you should be able to find everything you need to preserve the foods from your garden. Learn all about canning in a water bath canner or pressure canner and find the best way to freeze foods using these helpful guides.

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