We want to be able to enjoy our local produce all year round, so as the end of summer draws closer, we’re starting to look ahead into the cooler months. Taking a couple hours over the long weekend to stock up on our favorite summer bounty is well worth the trouble, as we’ll use them throughout the fall in soups, one pot meals and as sides.
Clean out your freezer! Yes, we know – you were “planning” on saving that semi, freezer-burnt spaghetti sauce for later, but let’s be real. Treat this as you would cleaning out your closet, if you haven’t worn it in 3 months, it’s gone. Make room for your new frozen items. We don’t want to overcrowd your freezer, as it will lead to an internal rise in temperature.
Set the freezer to COLD! Really, really cold! The water inside the veggies will turn to crystals, so the quicker they freeze the smaller the crystals. This will cause less damage to your produce and result in a much nicer finished product. Store the produce near the coolest spot, which is usually the center top rack.
Now that you’re freezer resembles the planet Hoth, it’s time to prep your produce. Most vegetables freeze well, but be wary of produce you would consume raw (cucumbers, etc.), as they hold a tremendous amount of water and do not translate well to cold environments.
Prep your vegetables as you would normally (slice your peppers, cut up your corn, etc. Note that tomatoes can be frozen whole). Some recommend blanching your produce so that they defrost easily and with little mess. We do not recommend blanching your fruit. Instead, according to Real Simple, “to preserve the fruit’s shape and texture, try freezing it packed in sugar, which reduces the formation of ice crystals. Shoot for a ratio of about 2 cups of fruit to 1 cup of sugar.”
And there you have it! You’ll be able to enjoy summer tomatoes during fall! Just remember to discard of any frozen produce after about 3 months.