It’s that time of the year when summer produce is winding down and fall bounty is at its peak. Now is the time to make like a squirrel and get ready for winter.

That means buying up as much corn, tomatoes, green beans, etc. as you can handle and preserving it to enjoy over the cold months when none of that is available. If you’re into canning, more power to you. Personally I haven’t got the time or the patience for the process. But there are other easier ways for me to have a little taste of summer in February. One of those is freezing. 

Preparing Vegetables:

Blanche vegetables in boiling water (usually 3-5 minutes). Then rapidly cool in ice water to prevent cooking. Blanching neutralizes the enzymes that cause changes in color and loss of nutrients. And it makes some vegetables, such as broccoli and spinach, more compact.

Preparing Fruit:

Because fruits are usually served raw, they’re not blanched like vegetables. For fruits that brown easily when cut (like apples and pears), neutralize enzymes by dipping in a bowl of water with a few teaspoons of acidic juice like lemon. Spread fruit on cookie sheets in preparation for freezing.

Packaging:

  • Cool all blanched vegetables before packaging to speed up the rate of freezing and help retain the natural color, flavor, and texture of the food.
  • Packaging materials must be moisture-vapor resistant; durable and leak proof; protect foods from off-flavors and odors; and easy to seal.
  • Good packaging choices include rigid containers made of plastic, glass or aluminum; plastic bags; and flexible wraps including plastic, foil and laminated paper.
  • Label each package; include the name of the product, any added ingredients, packaging date, the number of servings of amount, and form of food.
  • Remove as much air as possible from the container to reduce the amount of air in contact with the food. Allow just enough extra space so food can expand without breaking package seals.

Freezing and Storing:

  • Leave space among new, warm packages so the cold air can circulate freely around them. When the food is frozen, you can stack and store them close together.
  • As soon as baking sheets of fruit are frozen, load the fruit into storage containers and return to the freezer.
  • Rotate foods so that you use the older items first and enjoy your food at its best quality.

Now that you know how to do it, buy more of that corn, those green beans and tomatoes – when you’re feasting on them in February, you’ll be glad you did.

See next week’s newsletter for how to easily preserve food by drying.