Freezing Home Grown Fruits and Vegetables
Freezing your bumper crop of fruits and vegetables is the quickest and easiest
way to save your bountiful harvest to enjoy at a later date. Avid home gardeners
like you and me are only limited by the size of our freezer. The only drawback
is that the storage time is less than that of canned goods.
And here is more good news...you can freeze most fruits and vegetables. Some
exceptions are leafy vegetables, like lettuce. Upon defrosting, leafy vegetables
are limp and mushy, not an appealing trait for a salad.
Safety First: We always stress the importance of following proper
measures to ensure your food is safe and edible. This includes cleaning all
utensils prior to use, proper preparation, storage, and thawing. When using
any foods, our motto is "When in doubt, throw it out".
Always select the freshest, healthiest foods for freezing. Pick fruits and
vegetables at their peak. Discard food with blemishes and soft spots, signs
of plant disease and insects. Wash thoroughly to remove dirt and debris. Peel
skins and cut to size as desired.
An enzyme is a protein found in all living cells. It is an organic "Catalyst"
that causes foods to ripen and eventually spoil. Other than that, we'll spare
your the Chemistry 101 lecture.
Why the lecture on Enzymes? Because freezing only slows enzyme activity.
It doesn't stop it. To stop the enzyme activity altogether, we turn our attention
Vegetables should be blanched prior to freezing. The most common methods
are boiling and steaming. Blanching in the microwave is also increasing in
use. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add your vegetables, and boil
Learn how to blanch vegetables
and blanching times
Fruits are usually are not blanched. Some fruits, like strawberries can be
frozen whole or sliced, and require no blanching. They are simply frozen
as soon are they are prepared. For others like peaches and apples, ascorbic
acid, not lemon juice, is used to retard enzyme activity. Another method
is to pack fruits in sugar syrup to eliminate browning effects of enzyme
Packaging and Storage
Almost any airtight container can be used. The most common is freezer bags
(found at your local store) and plastic containers. We stress "air tight",
as any opening is the pathway for air from your freezer to enter and cause
Pack food tightly. If you are using plastic bags, squeeze out all of the
Freeze foods as quickly as possible.
Most foods, including fruits and vegetables are best stored at 0 degrees
Freezer burns occur when air gets into a package of food. The longer food
is stored in your freezer, the more likely it is that the food will get freezer
burned. The food becomes discolored, turning a grayish brown and leathery
where it has been exposed to the air. Freezer burned food is not unsafe.
It just tastes bad or "funny", and is unattractive in appearance. If the
area affected is small, simply cut away the bad spot. If it is a large area,
the taste of the whole package may be affected. In that case, you will
want to discard it.
Tips for Thawing:
Some foods like Turkeys require a slow thawing over a period of time. Vegetables
on the other hand, are best when taken right from the freezer and put directly
into a pot of boiling water.
Most fruits should be thawed slowly in the refrigerator. They can be placed
on the counter for a short period of time.
Important: Never allow frozen foods to thaw overnight at room temperature,
or to reach above 40 degrees. Once thawed, harmful bacterias and micro organisms
become active again and grow.
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