Think of the freezer as a culinary time capsule where summer can be remembered all winter long. You'll need just a few basic tools, a selection of produce, and about 30 minutes for each fruit, vegetable, or herb you want to preserve. Time to get started!
Before you begin, make sure you've got the freezer space for whatever you'd like to freeze. Most fruits and vegetables require enough space for a baking sheet to sit flat while they freeze and then just a sliver of space once they are moved to zip-top bags for storage. Herbs freeze beautiful in ice cube trays or muffin tins and will need space to sit flat while they freeze as well.
The Freezer Toolbox
- Space: In the freezer in particular. Clear some room before you get started.
- Baking sheet: Rimmed are best for corralling blueberries and other small bits.
- Parchment paper: For keeping frozen foods from sticking to baking sheets.
- Plastic or silicon ice cube trays: A must for freezing herbs.
- Zip-top freezer bags: Because they store flat, these are our favorite storage container for frozen foods. Quart- and gallon-sized bags are the most useful.
- Permanent marker: For labeling and dating bags before they go into the freezer.
Freezing fruit requires very few ingredients — the most important of which is the produce itself. Only freeze fresh, ripe produce; save the blemished or bruised specimens for cooking into purées or jams before storing.
The Ingredient Toolbox
- Sugar: Toss sliced peaches or other stone fruit in a small amount of sugar, if desired, before freezing.
- Lemon juice: Fresh lemon juice keeps sliced peaches and apricots from discoloring in the freezer.
- Salt: Use kosher salt to season blanching water for green beans, zucchini, and other vegetables.
Summer fruit is some of easiest produce to freeze, as it requires very little preparation. Store frozen fruit in the freezer for up to six months. Frozen fruit is great in smoothies, but it also bakes up beautifully in quick breads and pies.
Read More: Our Best Tips for Freezing Fruit
A Few Fruits to Get You Started
- Blueberries don't even need to be rinsed before freezing, thanks to their natural waxy bloom. (The method: How To Freeze Blueberries)
- Strawberries should be hulled and halved. (The method: How To Freeze Fresh Summer Fruit)
- Peaches and other stone fruit should be pitted, peeled, and sliced before freezing. (The method: How To Freeze Peaches)
Most home cooks rely on some frozen vegetables, yet we don't always freeze our own. Time to switch things up.
A Few Vegetables to Get You Started
- Corn should be shucked, blanched whole, or removed from the cob before freezing. (The method: How To Freeze Corn)
- Zucchini gets a quick slice and blanch as well. (The method: How To Freeze Zucchini)
- Chiles are roasted before freezing for even more flavor. (The method: How To Roast and Freeze Green Chiles)
- Tomatoes are frozen when ripe and still whole. (The method: How To Freeze (and Thaw) Tomatoes)
Blanching is a technical term for quickly boiling and then chilling vegetables. We most often call for this step for vegetables where it will improve the color or texture of the produce. Blanching also shuts down enzymes that lead to spoilage. Blanching can also be used for quickly peeling peaches or tomatoes.
Fresh herbs are available year-round in most grocery stores, but if you've kept even a small pot of mint, you know what prolific producers herb plants can be. Preserve them swiftly in ice cube trays covered with olive oil, broth, or water and add them to sautés, soups, and even cocktails long into the winter.