For the past few weeks my wife and I have been experimenting with various techniques for preserving all of the produce we’ve been hauling home from the farmer’s market. One solution I found, which I throughly endorse because it is about the easiest, is freezing the vegetables after some simple preparation.
How much you can store will depend on the capacity of your freezer(s). For all you house husbands out there, this is a great way to utilize the freezer of your beer fridge in the basement or in the garage. Get rid of that six month old bag of ice and fill the freezer with freshly frozen vegetables that you can use all winter long. You’ll be saving money and you’ll be supporting your local farmers rather than some corporation.
The steps for freezing are: clean; blanch; shock; dry; bag; and freeze. That’s it! No sterilizing jars, no stressing over temperatures, no expensive equipment, just a large pot, a sink or basin of ice water and some inexpensive freezer bags ( I buy mine by the case at Costco). I found a handy website called OChef that outlines these steps and also gives you a time chart indicating how long to blanch the vegetables before moving them to the ice bath.
So far, we’ve frozen corn off the cob, carrots, red, yellow and green bell peppers, broccoli and the broccoli stems (which I’ll use for soup), green beans, and whole peeled tomatoes. On our trip to the market last week, we saw that yellow wax beans are starting to come in so we will be freezing some of those in the near future.
You can freeze the corn on the cob, I just find it easier to store and to use if you cut the kernels off the cob before bagging.
One step I added to the process for the tomatoes, after cooling and peeling the tomatoes, I set them so they were not touching each other on a rimmed baking sheet lined with wax paper and covered them lightly with aluminum foil. I then placed the baking sheet in the freezer for one hour. This allowed the tomatoes to freeze separately and made them easier to store in the freezer bags so that when I need some, I don’t have to defrost the whole bag, I can just remove what I need for the dish.
I also made some tomato sauce and a summer squash dish that I froze. More about that in my next post.