Apples, peaches, pumpkin pie... it may be a song from the 60s. Or it could be a list of just some of the yummy things that you can stash in your freezer.
If you see a great deal on fresh produce — or have a flourishing green thumb of your own — you needn't worry about how to use it up at harvest time. Stash it in the freezer so that you can experience the joy of sun-ripened sweet corn or the deliciousness of a juicy peach pie any time of year. Here are 12 seasonal fruits and vegetables and the strategies I use for hoarding them away.
I didn't grow up knowing what to do with surplus produce. My dad, a former farmer, grew vegetables in the backyard — some 20 rows of sweet corn at a time! Food preservation wasn't his bag, though. When the corn was ripe, that's what was for dinner! And you better eat as many ears of corn as possible.
And like it.
Thankfully, in my adult years, I've learned alternatives to eating it all at once or risk letting it spoil: prepping seasonal produce for the freezer.
My freezer is one of my best money-saving resources. I buy our favorite fruits and vegetables when they are in-season and on sale and stash them away for another day.
Consider these strategies that I use to preserve seasonal produce:
- Make into Homemade Applesauce and freeze in two-cup containers. Be sure to leave 1/2-inch headspace to allow for expansion.
- Prep several Slab Apple Pies or Nanna's Apple Pie and freeze them unbaked. Bake from frozen for a special treat any time of the year.
- Zest the fruit and store the zest in a small, sealed container in the freezer.
- Store the juice in small containers in the freezer to make into Lemon Meringue Pie or Homemade Lemonade.
- Slice whole fruits and prepare Lemon Ice Cubes for cool drinks.
Peaches and Other Stone Fruit
- Slice and toss with sugar to help preserve their texture. Freeze in ziptop bags.
- Rinse and pat dry. Lay on a tray in the freezer until frozen. Remove from tray and store in a ziptop freezer bag in the freezer. Pull out what you need for smoothies, desserts, and baking.
- Slice and lay on a tray in the freezer until frozen. Remove from tray and store in a ziptop freezer bag in the freezer. Pull out what you need for smoothies, desserts, and baking. (And don't forget about that magical One-Ingredient Banana Ice Cream.)
Peppers (Sweet or Hot)
- Slice and lay on a tray in the freezer until frozen. Remove from tray and store in a ziptop freezer bag in the freezer. Pull out what you need for recipes.
- Prepare roasted peppers and store in small containers or zip-top bags in the freezer.
- Prepare caramelized onions and freeze in small, easy-to-use portions in containers or ziptop bags.
- Slice or chop and lay on a tray in the freezer until frozen. Remove from tray and store in a ziptop freezer bag in the freezer. Pull out what you need for recipes.
Green Beans & Broccoli
- Trim and blanch for 3 minutes. Cool quickly, drain, and store in ziptop freezer bags.
- Blanch the ears for 5 to 6 minutes. Cool quickly, drain, and cut the kernels from the cobs. Store in zip-top freezer bags.
- Shred and pack in freezer bags or containers. Store in freezer. When ready to use, thaw and drain before proceeding with recipe.
Pumpkin and Other Winter Squash
- Steam or roast until tender. Puree until smooth. Cool and freeze in containers or ziptop freezer bags.
Mixed Summer Vegetables
- In summer when my produce box is bursting with eggplant, summer squash, and tomatoes, I prepare a Roasted Vegetable Puree that I use in the coming months to enrich soups, chilis, and sauces.