Hold on to Summer: Freezing Seasonal Foods

by in Healthy Tips, August 12, 2009

frozen berries
I never want the spring and summer months to end. The warm weather is fabulous, but I get especially attached to the fresh foods coming from my garden, farmers’ markets and CSA. Luckily, thanks to freezing, I can keep some of those summer-fresh flavors year round.

To Blanch or Not to Blanch?
Blanching is a fairly simple process. Boil a large pot of water and give food a brief plunge (usually about 1 to 2 minutes). Then transfer it to a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking, drain and your done. Blanching before you freeze a food stops enzymes from breaking down the food’s nutrients and brightens its color. This process also comes in handy for peeling things like tomatoes and peaches. You can use a paring knife to make a small “X” in the bottom of the fruit before you drop it in the boiling water. Leave in the water for only a few seconds and then move into the ice water bath. This will loosen the skin.

When prepping foods for freezing, vegetables benefit most from blanching; fruits are more delicate and usually don’t need it. The exception for fruits would be things that you need to peel — peaches and nectarines, for example — before popping them in the freezer.

Freezing Fruits
Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and whatever other berry you can think of should be washed, dried and placed in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Place the sheet in the freezer until the berries are hard and then transfer them to a bag — initially freezing in a single layer keeps them from sticking together. You can freeze cherries in a similar fashion but may want to remove the pit first.

Like I said, you need to blanch, peel and slice peaches and nectarines first because their skins get tough when frozen. For fruits with thicker peels and skins (bananas and pineapple), peel or cut away the skin, chop them up and they’re ready to freeze — no blanching required.

What about apples? Sure, you can freeze those too. Just make sure you slice them up and dip them an ascorbic acid solution first. Ascorbic acid (a.k.a. vitamin C) keeps the apples from browning. You can find the solution at garden stores, online or along with canning and jam-making goods at your grocery store.

Freezing Vegetables
Blanch veggies like summer squash, peas, green beans, carrots, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower and tomatoes. For even blanching and cooking, cut everything into equal-sized pieces. You can leave corn on the cob or cut the kernels off after you blanch. And don’t forget about potatoes. I cut my potatoes and sweet potatoes into strips before blanching. After they’re frozen, they can go straight to the oven with canola oil, salt and pepper for easy oven fries. As for onions and peppers, you can skip blanching them — just chop them up (remove stem and seeds for peppers) and they’re good to go.

Freezing Herbs
Believe it or not, fresh herbs like basil, sage, mint, cilantro and parsley do freeze nicely. Wash and dry, chop them up or leave whole and wrap up tightly.

Other Ideas
Your freezing options don’t end at produce. Freeze breads, muffins, pancakes and cupcakes — just wrap them tightly and store. When you’re ready to eat them again, toast or place them in the fridge to defrost. Soups, tomato sauce, pesto, applesauce and chicken or vegetable stock are also great to keep in the freezer; store them for up to 6 months. I like stocks and pesto in ice cube trays — once they harden, I pop them out and store the cubes in freezer bags for single serving portions or whenever I need to add a hint of flavor to a dish like rice.

Freezer Storage & Defrosting Tips
Always use freezer-safe containers and bags; they are properly insulated to protect your food. Label and date your foods so you know what you’ve got and how long you’ve had them. Whether you blanch or just wash foods before freezing, make sure they are completely dry before packing them up — otherwise, they’ll get frosty and taste lousy. Store your frozen goodies in the back of your freezer; this is the coldest part. Bags of fruits and veggies that you keep in the freezer door are more susceptible to freezer burn, especially if you open and close your freezer often. When you place foods in freezer bags, seal and lay them flat in your freezer until the contents harden completely. This makes for easy stacking — it even works for soups and sauces.

Is It Just As Good As Fresh?
No, not always, but the nutrients remain. Frozen produce won’t have the same texture as fresh, so frozen stuff is best used in particular recipes. Once frozen, fruits can be used for smoothies, baked goods, pancakes, jams and sauces. Frozen vegetables can go straight to the steamer, microwave, oven or just toss them into simmering soups, sauces and stews. Frozen herbs work best when you add them directly to a simmering pot. Try crushing and adding frozen basil and parsley leaves to tomato sauce or sage into a hearty stew.

Curious to try out canning? Check out our basic intro.

TELL US: What’s your favorite thing to freeze for later?

More posts from .

Similar Posts

Countdown to New Year’s: No-Resolutions Resolution Week 2

If you’re just joining us, it’s not too late to get on board with our No-Resolutions Resolution plan for 2015. We’re grabbing hold of th...

Comments (30)

  1. Your net web site is rather precious. Thank you a lot for delivering an abundance of invaluable materials. I’ve bookmark your internet internet site internet internet site and can be free of charge of doubt coming back. When just as prior to, I worth all your supply the outcomes at the same time as coming right here to communicate with me.

  2. hey there and thank you for your info – I’ve certainly picked up something new from right here. I did however expertise several technical points using this website, as I experienced to reload the website a lot of times previous to I could get it to load correctly. I had been wondering if your hosting is OK? Not that I am complaining, but sluggish loading instances times will sometimes affect your placement in google and can damage your quality score if advertising and marketing with Adwords. Well I am adding this RSS to my email and could look out for much more of your respective exciting content. Make sure you update this again soon..

  3. Wonderful website. Lots of helpful information here. I am sending it to several pals ans also sharing in delicious. And obviously, thank you for your effort!

  4. Here in Glendora it’s Fanara’s. Domenico’s is usually a close second.

  5. In this great scheme of things you’ll get an A+ just for hard work. Where exactly you confused everybody was on the facts. As as the maxim goes, the devil is in the details… And that couldn’t be much more correct at this point. Having said that, allow me reveal to you just what did give good results. Your writing can be highly powerful which is most likely why I am making the effort in order to comment. I do not make it a regular habit of doing that. Next, although I can easily see a leaps in reasoning you come up with, I am not necessarily convinced of how you appear to unite your details that help to make the final result. For now I will subscribe to your point however wish in the foreseeable future you link your dots better.

  6. sophomore says:

    We’re a gaggle of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community. Your website offered us with useful info to work on. You have done a formidable job and our entire community shall be thankful to you.

  7. Hi Kes,
    If the trouble is a username/password dilemma and you can’t log in then I am not sure what’s wrong. I tested it a second ago and it seemed to be working fine. Could you check once more and see if it’s ok now?

  8. M Wilkinson says:

    Wouldn't it be better to simply dry and store the herbs, rather than freeze them?

    unique wedding invitations

  9. Brenda says:

    I found that if you remove some of the buds, the fruits become bigger. This applies to all fruits, as the individual fruit won't have to compete for water. For my tomatoes, I leave most of the buds because I want a lot of little ones because I eat them every day. But with my nectarines, I would prune a lot of the buds, because I wanted large juicy nectarines. Don't give up on them! Just go for quality rather than quantity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>