- Bargaineering - http://www.bargaineering.com/articles -

How to Freeze Fruits and Vegetables for Off-Season Enjoyment

We joined a CSA this year for the first time. When we learned that our share was not quite enough for our family of five, we decided to get another small share of a different CSA. Little did we realize that now we had almost too much produce! The dance to use up our produce before it went bad began. Now, at the end of summer, both CSAs are abundant!

While I have learned new ways to use vegetables, including many I have never seen before such as ramps, I have also learned how to properly freeze many of these veggies. Now, our deep freezer is full of local, organic produce that we can use throughout the winter.

If you subscribe to a CSA or want to take advantage of the low produce prices at the farmer’s market, here are some strategies to preserve them in the freezer:

Freeze without Blanching

We love red peppers, but they are astronomically priced in the winter (off-season), so we generally avoid them. However, they are packed with more vitamin C than an orange, so they are a nutritional powerhouse and should be consumed. Luckily, you can simply dice them and freeze them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Then, when they are frozen, put in a heavy duty freezer bag.

Other fruits and veggies that you can preserve the same way as red peppers include:

Freeze after Blanching

Blanching simply means to briefly submerge the vegetable in boiling water for as little as 2 minutes and then to drain them and submerge them in ice cold water to stop the cooking process. This process stops the natural enzymes and optimizes the vegetables’ freezer preservation. If you don’t blanch these vegetables, they become tough or discolored in the freezer and their flavor is affected.

These vegetables freeze nicely after blanching:

(A good source to use to find how long to blanch each vegetable is Missouri Families Food Safety [3] page.)

Vegetables that Do Not Freeze Well

Sadly, not all vegetables can make a trip through the freezer and still come out edible. Here are some vegetables in our CSA basket that you must eat when fresh:

Freeze as Frozen Meals

Finally, not all of your excess produce has to be frozen separately to use in the winter. This summer, I made freezer meals with much our excess produce. In fact, we had so many extra veggies that I already have enough freezer meals to feed our family dinner almost every night for 2 months, and we still have 8 weeks left of CSA deliveries!

Here are some of our favorite ways to freeze produce in meals:

If you have too much produce, there is no reason to let veggies go bad. Simply freeze them properly or use them in freezer meals and you will be able to eat local produce all year long.

(Photo: andrewmorrell [9])