by Mireille Bourgeois
Just a quick post about freezer food preservation. I’d be lost without my freezer. Well, maybe not LOST, but seriously inconvenienced. My freezer was one of the domestic appliances that I proudly bought for myself when I moved in with my boyfriend. It reminded me of the first spatula I ever bought. I felt like such a grown up, that silly spatula. Well, the bottom line is that if you cook as much as I do and have also started a garden, a freezer will help preserve the goodness of the garden all through the winter, it will help with meal preparation on those weeks where cooking seems out of reach, and it also saves a lot of money to be able to buy in bulk, and portion freeze. My boyfriend and I subscribed to a fish program last year where we paid a flat fee and each week we’d pick up fresh fish that had been caught the day before. There’s nothing better than that. We still have fish in the freezer (it’s February) and our last pick up was last in November. There are other great food preservation tricks and tips found in my posts about pickling, food dehydration, and by making jellies (upcoming post!).
So here are a few tips for freezing veggies from the garden. Couldn’t be more simple. Try to keep up! 😉
Pick those beautiful veggies from the garden.
Clean your veggies.
For veggies like carrots and potatoes, I cut them into bite size, but beans I like to leave them whole. I flash blanch my veggies, then transfer them into a cold water bath (with ice cubes) in the sink. You want your water to be boiling before you put the veggies in, and then start your timer only when the water boils again. I blanch them for only about 3 minutes, depending on the type of vegetable. I have a handy contraption that helps with the quick transfer from the boiling water to the cold water bath in the sink. It’s a strainer with handles and when I drop the whole thing in the water, it collapses to let the veggies out easily.
The most annoying thing with freezer food is freezer burn or that crusty ice that builds everywhere. To avoid this, when the veggies have been sitting in the cold water bath for a few minutes and are cold to the touch I transfer them to a clean tea towel to dry. I let them air dry and sometimes pat them dry. Any remaining water will turn into ice, so it’s important to let them dry out a bit.
I then portion them out in bags and put all the portions in one large freezer bag to keep them as fresh and accessible as possible. You can easily take them out of the freezer and re-steam them or boil them up for a few minutes for super, but reduce your cooking time because they are already half cooked. You can also throw them into soups or stir fries without thawing at all. There’s nothing better than these sweet garden carrots in the middle of winter.
A quick tip for freezing hot peppers: you simply throw them in a bag without blanching. Take them out of the freezer when you need. You can cut them while frozen and throw the rest back in the freezer too. Great for adding to guacamole or whatever!
Well that’s it. Just an easy little post to start off the garden season. Ok, ok, it’s February, but I’m starting my garden plan within the next few weeks and for me that includes cleaning out the freezer and preparing jars.