Weekend Project: Freezing Fresh Produce

If you don't have the time or energy for canning, freezing fresh produce is one of the quickest and easiest ways to stretch summer's bounty into the cold season. Here's a round-up of our tips, techniques, and past posts on the subject to help you along.

Basic Tips on Freezing:

Organize your freezer. You want to make sure you have enough space for your frozen goods and that you know where they are when you need them!

Though not strictly necessary, it's worth taking the time to quickly blanch vegetables in boiling water. This helps retain firmness in the vegetable and prevent discoloration. This is also necessary for wilting down leafy greens, which can then be chopped and frozen.

Slice your fruits and vegetables into bite-sized, uniform pieces before freezing. Not only does this make for better freezing and thawing, but it also makes things easier for you later on since all you'll have to do is pop open a container and add it to your dish.

If possible, spread your sliced vegetables or fruits in a single layer on a sheet tray and freeze until they're at least partially frozen before transferring them to individual containers. This helps the produce freeze more quickly and evenly, and it also prevents individual pieces from adhering to one another.

As an alternative, you can also whip up a batch of tomato sauce, ratatouille, or fruit compote with surplus produce and freeze those in individual containers.

Try to keep a consistent temperature in your freezer, particularly while foods are first freezing. This also helps food freeze more evenly and prevents frost from building up on the food surface.

Don't forget to label containers with the contents and the date. Frozen fruits and veggies are good for up to a year, though their taste and texture can start to deteriorate after a while due to freezer burn.

Posts on Freezing from the Kitchn:

How to Freeze Zucchini
Roasting and Storing Peppers
Freezing Summer Fruits
Tip: Freezing Summer Basil
Tip: Save Leftover Herbs in Ice Cubes
Good Idea: Frozen Veg in Plastic Bottles

Internet Resources:

• The National Center for Home Food Preservations is a good resource for food safety and how to freeze specific foods.
• Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences also has good information on freezing and other food preservation techniques.

What other tips and advice do you have for freezing produce?

(Image: Flickr member The Bitten Word licensed under Creative Commons)