The Big Freeze

by Sue Taggart

If you have your own vegetable garden in the backyard, or have access to local farmers markets, there’s no reason that you can’t enjoy the taste of summer for months to come. Freezing is a great way to preserve the fresh, delicious flavors of fruits and vegetables picked at their peak. All you need is:
• Large baking sheet
• Heavy-duty freezer bags
• Freezer

Three easy steps to successful freezing:

  1. Create a level area in your freezer to accommodate the baking sheet
  2. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper, waxed paper of foil. Arrange the prepared fruits/vegetables on the sheet making sure they are not touching. Freeze until solid, 60-90 minutes, depending on size and freezer temperature.
  3. Transfer to heavy-duty freezer bags, pressing out as much air as possible, if you have a vacuum sealer you can use that.

You should store at the back of the freezer (the coldest part) until ready to use. Take out what you need and thaw in the fridge.

Preparing fruits and vegetables:

Generally fruit does not need to be blanched, but some vegetables do. Blanching stops the enzymes aging action while slowing vitamin and nutrient loss, as well as brightening and setting the vegetables color. Blanching is very simple, again three easy steps:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil – 2 quarts of water to 2-3 cups of vegetables
  2. Working in small batches, add the vegetables. Allow the water to return to the boil between batches
  3. Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the vegetables and immerse in ice water to stop the cooking process. Remove and dry thoroughly before freezing

Blanching vegetables:

English peas Shell peas Blanch for 1 minute
Snap peas and snow peas Trim strings Blanch for 1-1/2 minutes
Wax or green beans Trim ends Blanch for 2 minutes
Asparagus Trim woody stems Blanch for 1 minute
Spinach Wash and trim Blanch for 1-1/2 minutes
Broccoli and cauliflower Remove stems & cut florets into 1-1/2” pieces Blanch for 3 minutes
Corn Remove husks and Leave corn whole Blanch for 3-5 minutes
You can cut kernels off after blanching if needed
Tomatoes To remove skin Blanch for 30 seconds;  seed them and cut into chunks

No blanching required:

Raspberries, Blueberries, Blackberries Leave whole, wash and dry well
Strawberries Remove hull, wash and dry well
Cherries Leave whole, was and dry well Remove pit if you wish
Peaches and nectarines Peel and remove the pit. Cut into 1-inch wedges
Apricots Remove pit and cut in half
Rhubarb Cut into 2-inch chunks
Bell peppers Remove stem and seeds and cut into 4 pieces, or into strips or dice

Using your frozen produce:

While freezing is a great way to preserve seasonal fruits and vegetables, remember, their texture will be very different from fresh ones. Fruits are great in pie fillings, smoothies, sauces, pancakes, jams and garnishes. Vegetables are perfect in soups, stews, sautés, stir-fries and purées.

Related Posts