How To Freeze Vegetables To Perfection

Learn some basic tips in freezing fruits and vegetables!

Next to home-canning your vegetables, freezing them is one of the best ways you can preserve this produce for your family to enjoy all year-around!

The first thing to remember is that not all produce can be successfully frozen. This list includes potatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, and celery. These items tend to turn soft and mushy when they are frozen, then thawed out. Other vegetables such as onions, peppers, and tomatoes can be frozen onlyif you are going to use them in a cooked recipe, such as soups or casseroles, later on.They are not real tasty to eat raw after they have been frozen. Green beans, peas, and the like can be frozen and then removed from the freezer, cooked, and served. They tend to hold their shape and good taste. Fruits such as apples, particularly if they are made into applesauce first, is an especially good fruit to freeze, as are peaches, strawberries, and blueberries. Fruits such as bananas and pineapple should be eaten fresh and not frozen.

Be sure to use fruit and vegetables that are in good condition, not bruised or soft. Don't use fruits or vegetables that are over-ripe either. Make sure the fruit is at its peak of flavor. Wash them thoroughly in clean tap water.

Most vegetables need to be prepared first. Thatis, they need to be converted from their natural states into edible portions. Green beans need to be stringed, both ends snapped off, and then snapped in the middle, for example. Peas need to be removed from their pods, and red beets need the tops and the bottom roots removed; broccoli and brussel sprouts need to cut apart, etc.

Most vegetables need to be blanched first before they are frozen. Blanching helps to keep the flavor from changing during storing them in the freezer. There are two types

of blanching methods. The first is the boiling water method. Boil a large pot of water on your stove top. Then immerse a metal strainer full of washed, prepared vegetables into the water. When the boiling starts again, start the timing. The second method is the steam method. This method uses a steamer which fits onto the top of the pot. The vegetables are then placed in the steamer when the water in the pot below begins to boil. Cover the steamer with its lid and start timing. Blanching times vary, but range from a minute to a few minutes.

Immediately after the end of each blanching period, you must chill the vegetables in order to stop the cooking process. To do this, you need to plunge the container of vegetables into a sink full of very cold tap water. Let the vegetables chill until they are thoroughly cooled on the inside.Test by biting into a piece of vegetable to make sure. When done cooling, remove the vegetables from the cold water and drain well.

Then, place the veggies into appropriate freezing containers or bags, label each bag with thename of the contents and the date it was frozen, and store in the freezer right away.

Check with your local county extension office for details on blanching times. The same office might also have a chart available which will tell you how long each type of produce can be safely stored in the freezer.

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