Storing Summer Fruits and Veggies For Winter

storing-summer-veggies

My world changed when I realized that it was a possibility to store just about any fruit or vegetable for use over the winter. Not only did I cut back on costs at the supermarket, but local produce became an option year round. The quality of the meals that I was serving changed as well, for the better. I used less canned foods and more local produce AND our CSA shares are now never wasteful. In fact, I often grab seconds (the slightly less ideal produce) to can or freeze.

So, go stock up on any extra local bit of fresh produce that you can find and start blanching away. Keep in mind that the sooner you can prepare and freeze the fruits and veggies that you will be storing, the better! Also keep in mind that there are TONS of techniques out there. In fact, your grandmother probably has a technique called the “your grandmother technique” (totally just kidding), this is just how I do things and it works:)

Some of the techniques I use:

Water Blanching: 
1. Boil a pot of water.
2. Lower vegetables into boiling water and start timing right away. *Make sure that the pot is not crammed with vegetables. You should only blanch around 1 1/2 pounds at a time (depending on the size of your pot).
3. Remove from water after the appropriate amount of time (each vegetable is different) and immediately place in a cold water bath for the same amount of time as boiling. This stops the cooking process.
4. Air dry on a towel.
*Vegetables should be placed in the freezer as soon as possible (ideally after just minutes of drying).
*Blanching is an extremely important thing to do when freezing because it stops enzymes and bacteria in your produce from destroying their fresh flavor.
Flash Freeze: 
Freeze in a single layer on a cookie sheet for a few hours until just frozen. Then transfer to another container to freeze together. This prevents the vegetables from sticking together.
Labeling: 
Make sure you use a Sharpie to label your containers with the date that they were frozen:) Most vegetables are good in the freezer for upwards of one year. After that, their quality starts to decline.

Fruits and Vegetables:

Asparagus: I freeze these (though we usually don’t have much left over) to use as side dishes.
- Cut the tough bottom ends off (you can use these in a soup or use right away). Water blanch remaining pieces for 4 minutes (for a medium sized spear), dry, then flash freeze before transferring to another container.

Beets: Beet Pancakes, brownies, cakes, etc.
- Though you can boil beets and then freeze them, I like the idea of freezing portion sized containers of beet puree for use in baked goods. Roast beets, covered, at 425 degrees in oven until tender. Puree in a food processor. Freeze in freezer safe containers. Beet puree is an excellent alternative to oil in many recipes.
Blueberries: I freeze these to use in smoothies, muffins, and breads. My daughter also loves eating these plain, just frozen!
Here is a great resource with some tips on how to freeze and why you shouldn’t wash them before hand! Love the idea of freezing in mason jars…
Cabbage: Vegetable soup over the winter or other soups/stews.
- Rinse/wash cabbage. Slice cabbage, then blanch for 1 1/2 minutes. Cool and store in freezer safe containers in serving size amounts.
Carrots: Use these cut up for chicken pot pies, beef stew, pot roasts.
- Wash carrots, peel them, and dice them up. Water blanch them for 2 minutes. Store in freezer storage bags in freezer.

Corn: Side dishes, soups, stews, chilies, or infinite other possibilities.
- Shuck, remove silk, and cook corn on the cob as you normally would (we boil ours). Cut corn off of the cob and store in plastic storage bags. Here is a good article about freezing corn.

Green Beans: Perfect for soups, stews, side dishes.
- Wash beans, cut off the ends, and then cut into ~1 inch pieces. Water blanch them for 3 minutes. Portion into storage bags and freeze.
Leafy Greens (Kale, Chard, Spinach, Collards): Great for soups, smoothies, lasagnas, dips, etc.
- Wash greens, dry, and remove any thick stems. Water blanch for 2-3 minutes depending on thickness of green. Place in a freezer safe airtight container and freeze!
Peaches: Smoothies
-Wash, peel, and cut these. Flash freeze before placing into a freezer safe container.
Strawberries: Perfect for smoothies and strawberry-rhubarb muffins.
- Wash, hull, and dry these. Flash freeze to prevent sticking together, then place in freezer safe storage containers for long term storage.
Tomatoes: These are perfect for soups, chilies,
-Wash tomatoes and put in boiling water until the skin cracks. Take out of boiling water and put directly into ice cold bowl of water. Peel the skins off. Squeeze out excess water and at the same time you will be squeezing out the seeds:) Flash freeze tomatoes. Transfer to a large freezer storage bag. *Again, make sure to portion into sizes that you would use in recipes.

Zucchini: I love storing this veggie for breads, muffins, and cakes.
-Wash, then shred the zucchini and freeze in freezer safe storage bags.
*It is a good idea to look at your recipe and freeze in the quantities needed for that particular recipe.

What are your favorite fruits or veggies to store?

About Lauryn Blakesley


Mom of three vivacious children and wife to one extremely vivacious husband! Lover of knitting, running (although mostly after little ones right now), the color orange, fun accessories, fall, tea, and a clean kitchen floor. I spend my days in awe of my family and trying to teach my three to treat others as they would want to be treated.

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Comments

  1. I froze some of my herbs, love your tips!

  2. Thanks for this informative list! Thanks also for linking up at Pin It Tuesday!
    Pary Moppins recently posted…Pin It TuesdayMy Profile

  3. I so love this article and it is right on time. I have been visiting my local CSA and just threw a little more produce in the trash than I would like. I hate waste, I will have to try a couple of these ideas in the future. I have a ton of organic strawberries I refuse to waste!
    Aida Ingram recently posted…Now That Was Easy… Using Apps To Simplify Your Life!My Profile

  4. Lauryn, this is a fantastic post, one just about anyone can use!! Pinning!
    Colleen (Souffle Bombay) recently posted…Quick & Easy Sweet & Spicy Pickled CucumbersMy Profile

  5. This is a great resource. I really should do more preserving of all the CSA veggies we get!
    Jo-Lynne Shane {Musings of a Housewife} recently posted…Roots and Wings {sponsored}My Profile

  6. I’ve never done this before but now that we have a second freezer I’ll have to give it a shot!
    Jessica @FoundtheMarbles recently posted…The Anatomy of a Curse WordMy Profile

  7. Great tips on freezing – I will be trying some of these out. I freeze my basil every year – as I have so much of it.
    Kimberlee recently posted…Kale – Cooking and Health BenefitsMy Profile

  8. I always wonder on how to freeze strawberries. Thank’s for sharing.
    Mama Obito recently posted…Visiting The Bali Arts FestivalMy Profile

  9. Thank you for sharing!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Shredded Zucchini – I decided that I would use this monster of a zucchini to get started on preservation for this winter’s zucchini bread. I shredded a large amount and put them in 2 cup portions in a freezer bag (2 cups is the amount my Zucchini Bread recipe calls for). I let all of the air out and away they went (until I see them this winter). Here is a good reference for Storing Summer Produce for Winter [...]

  2. […] Show them how you can extend the growing season making it all year long! Here are some tips for storing food from spring and summer! Oh, and have some fun too! Picking fruit and veggies can be such a wonderfully exciting time and […]

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