Sunday, October 11, 2015
Freezing is a super easy way to preserve summer freshness for all winter. There are just a couple of tips to keep your frozen veggies fresh tasting for their entire winter stay in the freezer.
For some veggies, like beets, carrots, greens, eggplant, broccoli, and cabbage, you have to stop the enzyme action that will continue even when frozen. It is an easy thing to do; you just “blanch” them in boiling water, quickly dunk in very cold or ice water, drain, and then freeze. If you want to use just a little out of your freezer bag at a time, you can add the step of laying out on a cookie sheet and quick freeze before putting in the freezer bag.
Be sure to label your freezer bag with the veggie and date frozen. Veggies typically keep their flavor for 6-8 months in the freezer.
Blanching times at a full boil:
Denser veggies like carrot, eggplant slices, cabbage, broccoli-3 minutes
-Blanch for the recommended time, no longer. You don’t want to over cook. When the color gets very bright, they are done.
-Quickly transfer to very cold or ice water to stop the cooking process, this keeps the veggies tasting like they were just picked from the garden. I use tongs to transfer them so I minimize the amount of hot water I bring into the cold water.
-As soon as they are cool, remove excess water. I use a spaghetti strainer.
-Transfer to labeled (with name and date) freezer bag and pop in the freezer. I lay them flat so they freeze quicker.
-If you want to pull only a couple of leaves or slices from the freezer bag at a time, lay the cooled veggie onto a cookie sheet and put in the freezer to freeze the individual leaf or slice. After frozen, place into labeled freezer bag.
I don’t blanch tomatoes, peppers, green beans or peas. I haven’t found that the flavor is affected by just directly freezing them. For more on preserving tomatoes Preserving the tomato harvest and basil Basil basics-harvesting, preserving, growing basil.
For dehydrating tips: Dehydrate or sun dry your extra veggies
For drying herbs: Make your own "Herbes de Provence"
For canning: Easy, low tox canning of summer's bounty
It is wonderful to have fresh garden taste year round and, luckily, it is easy to do with no special equipment needed!