Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Try This at Home Tuesday: Freeze Preserving Food

Earlier this summer, I shared my first experience with canning. I was pleased to find how easy it was to can, albeit a bit time-consuming. But I recognize that it's intimidating to a lot of people and not something they want to try. However, preserving foods by freezing them is very simple and not at all time consuming, so I thought I'd talk about some of the foods I've preserved by freezing them.

1. Green beans

I have picked soooo many green beans this summer. This was my latest haul that I picked last weekend, which is the last batch of beans I will pick.

Delicious green beans + some tomatoes

There are only so many fresh green beans that 2 people can eat, so I've frozen quite a few - over a gallon in fact!  Here's how you freeze green beans:

1. Wash the beans, trim the ends, and cut them into your desired size.
2. Blanch the beans. To blanch the beans, bring a pot of water to boil. When it reaches a rapid boil, add the beans to the water and boil for about 3 minutes. Remove beans from the water and put them into a bowl of ice water.
3. Put the beans in a freezer bag, being careful to get as much/all of the air out before sealing. I have been using quart-sized ziplock freezer bags.

These are the most time-consuming vegetable to preserve out of what I've preserved, but it will be worth it when we are able to enjoy garden-fresh green beans during the cold winter months!

2.  Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is a vegetable that is available in the store or farmer's market for quite awhile since it's a hearty vegetable that lasts for such a long time. So it's not something I'd go out of my way to preserve. That said, I recently cut up a butternut squash for a recipe that called for 2 cups of butternut squash. I knew I wasn't going to use the rest of the squash that week so I decided to preserve it. This method would work on any kind of squash.

1. Cut up the squash and put it on a baking sheet in a single layer (you don't want pieces of squash on top of each other).
2. Put the baking sheet in the freezer. (Tip: make sure the baking sheet fits in your freezer - I had to do some serious maneuvering to get mine to fit!!)
3. Once the squash pieces are frozen, remove and put in a freezer bag, being careful to get as much/all air before sealing.

3. Zucchini

Last, but not least, I have preserved quite a bit of shredded zucchini. Because of the high water content of zucchini, you can't just preserve large chunks of zucchini - it only works to shred it first for use in baked goods. Zucchini is one of those vegetables that I prefer to work with when it's available locally, because when it's not zucchini season, the zucchini in the grocery store are so tiny and sad-looking. Here's how I preserved zucchini for future baking;

1. Shred the zucchini in a food processor.
2. Squeeze the zucchini in a paper towel, cheese cloth, or dish towel to remove as much water as possible (I recommend a dish towel or cheese cloth).
3. Freeze in 1 cup servings. I put each cup in a sandwich-sized zip lock bag and then put 2 bags in a quarter freezer bag. You can get 2 sandwich bags to fit in a quart bag if you flatten out each sandwich bag of zucchini (which also makes storage much easier).
4. When you are ready to use the zucchini, thaw it out and squeeze out any excess water using a paper towel, cheese cloth or dish towel.

So there you have it!  3 vegetables that are very easy to preserve in your freezer. I know that in some parts of the country, it's not as important to freeze foods since you have easier access to locally-grown produce throughout the year. But for those of us who live in the north, preserving foods is an important step if you want to try to eat more locally!

Do you ever preserve foods in the freezer? I often freeze leftover soups and stews. This is the first year that I've preserved produce, and given how easy it is to do, I plan to do this each summer.


Jeanie said...

Thanks, Lisa. I'm dicey about my freezing skills so I rarely do that but I've often wondered about fresh veggies. So much better when they are in season and it would be nice to save the garden and enjoy for as long as possible. I'm sharing this post with Rick, my resident gardener!

Marlys Dotzenrod said...

I used to freeze green peppers, broccoli, cauliflower and pureed squash, corn and they were always delightful to use in the winter! Peppers don't need to be blanched, just cut up and frozen. I especially liked to use the vacuum sealer for peppers as they came out like fresh ones and were great in soups etc. I have frozen zucchini, too, and also rhubarb and apples. I think you should invest in a vacuum sealer!

Nora said...

I love all the new things you are doing/trying as a result having your garden. And what a great garden yield it has been! Fresh green beans in the winter sounds delicious. They are my favorite fresh vegetable (well, apart from broccoli!).

Gracie said...

I'm so impressed with your garden haul - and for your first year, too! I love that you were able to preserve so much produce (and in so many ways, too). Did you have to buy another freezer for storage?

Marisa A. said...

I've made a bunch of soups and froze them for quick warm and tasty meals when it gets really cold out! We have a vacuum sealer and honestly it was a really good investment. I'd recommend looking into one if you are going to be freezing and preserving lots of things.

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

We froze bell peppers, salsa peppers and zuchinni. I sometimes will use the zuchinni as a side at dinner and top with spaghetti sauce.

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

I freeze a lot of things, but haven't had much experience with freezing veggies ...

Amber said...

I did not do very good at preserving foods this summer but I am hoping to do better nextx year, especially if I get my own garden plot at the community garden! Some of my family members are very into growing their own food / canning and preserving so I've reaped the benefits of some of their hard work as they usually have enough leftover to give me some!

Sandra Bond said...

I haven't done this much (mostly with baked goods or soups and fruit), but I would like to try it with more things!