Nothing reduces your table's footprint like putting up seasonal produce.
Waste-free. Locally focused. Affordable. It's no wonder food preservation is making a comeback!
The simplest way to keep food is to freeze it. Unlike canning or dehydrating, freezing requires no special kitchen skills or equipment (except a freezer) to effectively preserve the flavour of your summer bounty. Moreover, freezing fruits and vegetables immediately after harvesting preserves more nutrients than other processing methods!
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How to freeze produce
Unless otherwise specified, almost all fruits and vegetables can be easily frozen in a single layer on a parchment-paper-lined cookie sheet, and then transferred to a glass container for storage.
Freezer bags will provide the requisite tight seal to keep food fresh, but reusing glass is greener!
When investing in a deep freeze, make sure to look for an EnergyStar appliance and buy used if you can.
How to blanch produce
Some produce requires blanching before freezing. This deactivates the enzymes that lead to deterioration and destroys micro-organisms on the surface.
To blanch, boil the produce for a couple of minutes, then immediately submerge in ice water for the same amount of time it was boiled, to stop the cooking. Two minutes is the average time needed to kill the enzymes without overcooking the food. Where applicable, dry well before freezing.
How to freeze fruits and vegetables
You'll find detailed instructions for freezing everything from apples to zucchini in the How to freeze fruits and vegetables FAQ but, to get you started, here's my favourite way to preserve kale (freezing puréed kale or other leafy greens makes it easy to toss a few tablespoons into pasta sauce, soup and other recipes):
- Pull leafy greens away from the centre stem
- Purée with a splash of olive oil
- Transfer to ice cube trays, freeze
- Transfer to glass jar for storage
Join the conversation with your tips or questions about food preservation (freezing, canning, dehydrating or other) and you'll be entered to win a beautiful cherry pitter courtesy of the Homesteader's Emporium. You'll need this to put up those cherries!
Tovah Paglaro, a fellow Queen of Green