This is the season of garden abundance. We want you to be able to enjoy and use as much of your share as possible, but realize that we are often distributing more food than you may be able to eat in a week. We are including this preserving guide which highlights easy freezing methods for our most abundant crops. If you are interested in learning more about preserving, please visit this link from Organic Gardening.
Do you have a tried-and-true way to freeze these vegetables? Please share!
The most common way to prep green beans for the freezer is to blanch them. First, bring your water to a rolling boil. Then add no more beans than the water will take and still remain boiling. After 3 minutes, remove the beans and immerse them in ice water, then drain and dry them. Finally freeze the beans on a cookie sheet until they’re solid, and then transfer the pieces to plastic freezer bags.
Truth be told, I don’t generally blanch my green beans, but that is only dependent on that they are freshly picked and clean. Snap off the ends, and break the beans into halves or thirds, if you like. Wash and drain thoroughly. Spread the green beans on a baking sheet in a single layer, and flash freeze for 30-60 minutes. Remove them from the tray, place in a freezer baggie, label, and place back into the freezer.
Freeze a few cucumbers at the end of the season to use later in chilled soups or for a cool refreshing drink. Peel the cukes, chop them into chunks, drop them into plastic bags and put the bags in the freezer. For a thick off-season slushie, puree the frozen cucumber chunks along with your favorite fruit.
Firm, pungent storage onions will keep for months in a cool, dry basement, and even longer in a root cellar. But Vidalias and other sweet, mild onions don’t store well. To preserve their goodness, just chop them up and freeze them in plastic containers.
Peppers (both hot and sweet) freeze beautifully without blanching. Just chop or slice them, freeze the pieces on a cookie sheet until they’re solid, and then transfer the pieces to plastic freezer bags. When you’re cooking, just scoop out what you need.
The fastest method to preserve tomatoes is to freeze them whole and unpeeled. Just put clean, whole tomatoes in a bag and throw them in the freezer! When you’re ready to use them, remove the amount of tomatoes needed, hold under hot water for a few more seconds to loosen the skin, which will easily peel off.
If you want you can remove the tomato skins before freezing them. Immerse your fresh tomatoes in boiling water until the skins crack, then plunge the fruits into very cold water for another minute. Take them out, peel off the skin, and pack them whole or quartered in plastic freezer containers.
Zucchini and Summer Squash
Tender summer squash and zucchini get mushy in the freezer. So puree yellow and green summer squash in your blender or food processor, then freeze the puree to use in cakes, breads, and soups. Or I have found grating zucchini and summer squash and freezing in measured cup amounts makes for an easy addition to many baked recipes.