The summer harvest is underway and I am starting to get over-loaded with some vegetables from my garden, our CSA and from the gardens of friends and family. All of this wonderful produce at the height of its flavor needs to be preserved so that we can enjoy it later in the year.
I don’t do any canning, but I have found success with freezing a lot of produce from our garden. I was so paranoid about wasting the produce because we can’t eat it fast enough that I spent a recent afternoon washing, chopping and bagging vegetables so that I can freeze for future use.
I grew purple green beans this year as an experiment. My girls love them and we have been eating them for dinner quite a bit, but I’m getting a little tired of the beans, so I am freezing the rest for a later date. Beans must be blanched before they are frozen.
- Trim the ends and cut beans into small pieces
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Have a bowl of ice water ready.
- Carefully put the beans in to the water and boil for 3 minutes.
- Strain and transfer beans to ice water for at least a minute to cool down
- Strain and lay out on cookie sheet and stick the pan in the freezer for an hour or so. This is optional, but it makes it easier to pull out smaller portions of the beans.
- Place beans in freezer bag and keep in freezer.
I started having success with growing parsley, after we put a bunny fence around the garden to keep the critters away.
- Dry well
- Remove the leaves from the stems and chop the leaves. Stems can be discarded.
- Place in a freezer bag.
- In the off season, break off what you need.
- I also wash, dry and bag whole sprigs to use in my homemade chicken stock.
I have only had one measly pepper so far, but my neighbor gave me 7 green peppers from her garden.
- Place in freezer bag. I lay the bag flat and try to get out as much air out as possible. I just break off what I need in the fall and winter for casseroles and soups when I turn the oven back on.
Onions – See peppers
Sometimes I get more spinach and Swiss chard from our CSA than I can handle. I simple clean, dry and freeze whole leaves in a freezer bag. The spinach and chard crumbles when it is frozen, so when I make smoothies, I break off a handful and throw it in the blender. My kids don’t have a clue.
My grape tomatoes and a few Romas are the only ones ready thus far. Just enough for snacking and salsa. My bigger tomatoes haven’t started to turn red yet. I have frozen clean whole Roma tomatoes in the past. The skins slide right off when the tomatoes thaw. You can then chop and add to soups and sauces.
I have been having trouble with my own zucchini plant, but I have 7 zukes from our CSA. How could I possibly use up 7 zucchinis before they go bad? I love my Grilled Summer Squash, but not every night of the week and I am not about to turn the oven on to bake when it is 95+ degrees outside. When I saw this tip on A Latte’ with Ott, A, I knew what I had to do. I hand shredded the zukes, because it didn’t occur to me to use the food processor until I was almost done. I bagged in 2 cup portions.
Do you use your freezer to preserve your garden harvest? What vegetables or fruit have you been freezing?
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