In this part of the world, this is the time of year when fruits and vegetables are abundant. It’s hard to keep up with so much delicious eating! Fortunately, freezing produce for later enjoyment is really easy.
I like to use these plastic freezer boxes.
Because of their square shape, it’s really easy to pack a lot of them into my small chest freezer. Plastic freezer bags are also popular. However, if you prefer not to store your food in plastic, you can use glass mason jars instead.
Raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and elderberries are really easy to freeze.
You just rinse, pack, and freeze. Or, you can spread them out on a cookie sheet and freeze them that way first, then pack them into your containers. That keeps the berries from sticking together. Then it’s easy to remove just the amount you want when you’re ready to eat them. They’re great on cereal, or you can use them for baking muffins, crisps, pies, or any other recipe that calls for berries.
Sweet peppers are also easy to freeze. Just rinse, chop, and pack. Then they can go right from the freezer to the pot when you’re making spaghetti sauce, soups, beans, or casseroles.
Most other vegetables require blanching – cooking briefly in boiling water – before freezing in order to preserve their freshness. I am partial to a book called Putting Food By (by Ruth Hertzberg, Beatrice Vaughan, and Janet Greene), that explains the freezing process and gives blanching times for each vegetable. I am sure there are many other good books out there on the topic. Generally, it’s a simple process — chop, blanch, pack, freeze. I’ve had lots of success with green beans, corn kernels, peas, spinach, and kale, as well as berries and peppers.
In the middle of a New England January, snow may be abundant and sunlight scarce, but I just open my freezer and enjoy the fruits of the summer harvest. My freezer helps me eat local all year round.