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Now is the bountiful time in the season, and if your garden is doing well it can be hard to keep up with all the production! There are several ways to preserve produce, but freezing is one of the simplest.
Freezing produce is quick and easy, and it preserves most of the nutrition in fresh fruits, veggies, and herbs. You can freeze any amount of surplus you’ve got, as opposed to canning, which requires substantial amounts of produce. If you’ve got some extra room in the freezer (or a deep freeze), check out the tips below to help you get started putting away produce for the winter.
These tips are expanded from our 2012 post, Preserving Tips and Techniques.
Freezing is a simple, quick way to deal with extras. You can throw berries, peppers, and tomatoes in the freezer without any cooking at all. Rinse the produce before freezing. Be sure to label all containers with the date and contents, as it can be harder than you’d think to determine what’s in a frosty freezer package!
- Chop peppers and tomatoes into the sizes you’ll most likely want to use later. For example, pepper strips are great for stir fries, chopped peppers work well in omelets. Tomatoes can be left whole or chopped. Pack them tightly into a freezer-safe container.
- Berries freeze well on cookie sheets (this keeps them from sticking together). After they are frozen, pack them into freezer safe containers.
- Blanch (fancy food-preservation term for boil, then remove from water & quickly cool) cooking greens for 2 minutes. Don’t wait for the water to return to boiling – count the 2 minutes from when you place the greens in the water. Cool in ice water and drain well before packing tightly in a freezer bag or container. It’s so nice to have something green in the winter! Toss the frozen greens into soups & stews.
- Blanch fresh corn for 4 (small ears) – 6 (large ears) minutes. Cool quickly in ice water. Cut the corn from the cob & pack into freezer containers.
- Shred zucchini or summer squash & blanch for 1.5 minutes before cooling in ice water. Drain & pack into freezer containers.
- Herbs do not need to be blanched. Simply rinse them and dry with a salad spinner or kitchen towels. Spread on a cookie sheet to freeze, then transfer to freezer containers when frozen. Herbs also freeze well in ice cube trays (add water to cover). Or, use a food processor to chop 2 cups of fresh herbs with 1 tbsp. oil. Freeze the mixture in ice cube trays, then transfer to a freezer container. Pesto also freezes well.
Freezing Kale, Step by Step: