Thursday, June 25, 2009

Preserving the Harvest: Freezing Veggies

So we have a ton of vegetables ready to eat in our garden. It's a combination of ideal conditions, lots of travel, and hubby being gone. So I decided to try my hand at freezing the extras.

After doing a bit of research online and in my food preservation books, I decided the easiest, tastiest, and healthiest method would be to prepare and wash the vegetables, blanch them for 1-3 minutes, immerse in an ice bath, dry and place in freezer bags.

So now we have a freezer of Kale, Swiss Chard, Spinach, Bush Green Beans, Peas, and Sugar Snap Peas! It seems that none of these vegetables will be able to stand alone as a side dish but mixed into soup, rice, pasta, or a casserole, they'll be great. And hopefully I'll like having lots of organic vegetables, basically prepared in the fall!

I checked Preserving Summer's Bounty out from our library and it has been so helpful! I decided to commit one morning to freezing our veggies and it only took about an hour. But an hour of work for local, cheap, organic vegetables in the winter will be worth it. It has me questioning if starting next summer we could live the 100-foot diet in our urban backyard!

I appreciated this tip from Preserving Summer's Bounty that saved time and hassle: when attempting to quickly cool blanched vegetables do not immerse them in an ice bath where they will lose more nutrients into the water when drained and you will need new ice for each water bath. Instead, just place the blanched vegetables into a small container and then settle them on top of a larger bowl of ice and then place a bag of ice on top. This worked very quickly and saved the step of draining the vegetables again once they were cooled. You can then pop the ice bag into the freezer to use again!!

This post is part of the Food Roots series at Nourishing Days. Go check out more entries on local, seasonal foods or what people are doing to find your food’s roots. Thanks for visiting!


Barb said...

One thing led to another and another and I found your blog quite by accident! The book you found at the library looks interesting. If you need a resource for canning smaller amounts like one or two jars, "Summer in a jar" has recipes based on one jar.

I hate to say it but I never immerse the veggies in cold water after steaming them for freezing. I usually let them cool enough so that I can handle them and put them in quart freezer bags. I know it's not the best, but as you know, it's hard getting stuff done in the kitchen with little ones around!

Amy said...

Thanks for the new book recommendation! You give me lots of inspiration on your blog. Good to know I don't HAVE to immerse them in cold water. I almost didn't blanch them but the Rodale people said their tests showed better flavor, crunch, and nutrients so it seemed worth it.

BTW, have you found the cheapest place for blueberry picking in the area? We won't be able to go until the middle of July. I've been trying to stock up on the local bluebs being sold at superfresh and pathmark for less than a $1.30 a pint!!

renee @ FIMBY said...

Great tip about cooling your veggies. Thanks for sharing. I won't have veggies to freeze till later when we're overloaded with our farm share. My garden produces a pittance, I call it our "snacking garden".

Barb said...

No, I haven't in regards to the blueberries. I only know of Highland Orchards out in West Chester and Indian Orchards in Brookhaven. Indian Orchards is as organic as possible so they might be more than Highland.

Would Pathmark give you a 10% discount for taking a case/flat?

Shannon said...

I will have to check that book out at the library. You gave some great tips for freezing and cooling veggies.

Thanks so much for participating in Food Roots. I hope to see you there again soon!


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