How to Frugally Preserve Fresh Vegetables in the Freezer
Freezing Beats Canning!
Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables
Frugal Living includes freezing things that can keep for the winter months. Put it in a freezer bag and tuck it away for a rainy day. Both left over and prepared fruits and vegetables are great to use in soups, stews as well as stand-alone side dishes.
How to go about preserving vegetables in the freezer, you ask? Won't they wilt or turn brown?
There is a little prep work involved, but it seems to be worthwhile to have pre-packaged and prepared vegetables (especially if they are from your garden) for winter and off-seasonal access. Try it and see for yourself. Most people claim that freezing is much easier than canning.
Tomato Sauce is Best when it's Home Made!
Fresh Frozen Veggies
Clean out your Freezer to Make Space for the Veggies
If necessary, clean and defrost your freezer before you begin. You will need to make room for an organized section of frozen fruits and vegetables which will be easy to view and take out of the freezer when cooking needs require them. Freezer temperature must be regulated to stay at the same level, avoiding snowy build up and freezer burn. Experts have found that the back of the freezer is the ideal spot, where the fluctuations of temperature caused from opening and closing the freezer door won't affect your little frozen pantry.
First, clean and chop your vegetables into bite sized pieces to promote freezing evenly. This will also make it easier for you to de-thaw the package when you remove it from the freezer.
Blanch the vegetables in lightly boiled but unsalted water. This will help them to retain their firmness and natural color, disabling the enzymes that cause them to get mushy, colorless and flavorless. It's ok to boil slightly wilted cabbage and spinach, then chop up and freeze. Don't cook them all the way, just so you can insert a fork. A pitcher of ice cold water may be kept on hand to halt the cooking process. Al Dente vegetables is our goal.
Parsley, Herbs, Basil, Orange and Lemon Peel
Orange You Glad
Freeze them Piece by Piece
Small Pieces Individually (if you have time)
Expert housewives / househusbands may space out the vegetable pieces (zucchini, for example) on a sheet tray to let them freeze individually before packing into separate containers. This is a good practice, but not necessary. The advantage is that the pieces won't stick together and will cook more evenly when taken out.
Fruit can also be successfully prepared and frozen to be used at a future date. Seasonal fruit with a limited life, like rhubarb and berries can all be successfully frozen. Imagine all the peach cobblers you can look forward to in the winter months just by taking a little time during the summer bounty! Ideally, fruit need to be de-seeded and unpeeled. Just the meaty center is the part you will freeze.
Extra tomatoes can be peeled, de-seeded, crushed and cooked into tomato sauce which is ideal for cooking and making homemade pizza. Use a processer (hand held or machine) to extricate the chunks of tomato. Some women like to store this in the half-liter liquid yogurt containers for easy vertical storage and maximized freezer space.
Even herbs can be frozen. A large supply of basil may be put in the food processer with generous amounts of olive oil to coat each and every leaf. When you need it, simply remove it and add a little to your tomato sauce!
Preserve Food in Plastic Containers, Bags or Bottles
Labeled and dated plastic containers are the traditional choice of most freezing experts. Some also enjoy using freezer bags where a handy space is provided to write down the “What” and “When” information (Zucchini – June 6, 2012).
As an alternative, frozen vegetables like corn, peas, chopped green onions et cetera can be stored in plastic water bottles, too! The mouth of the bottle must be wide enough for easy storage. It helps maximize vertical space in your freezer, and the bottle tops are easily re-sealable, adding to the convenience.
Cut Up Rhubarb Freezes Well
- Stuffed Artichokes and Green Peas, a Healthy Mediterranean Style Dinner
How to cook an artichoke and artichoke hearts. Stuffed artichokes are simmered to completion, adding baby peas at the end of the cooking cycle to round out this springtime delicacy.
Artichokes: Stuff the artichoke with a mixture of bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, olive oil and Mrs. Dash then cook on low to medium heat in a shallow pan with water. When the artichokes begin getting soft, add ½ lb canned or frozen peas and cook together, adding water as needed to prevent sticking. Cool and freeze.
Rhubarb: Clean and chop ½ lb trimmed rhubarb stalks into bite sized pieces. Boil in water, adding 1/4 cup sugar, a little ginger and grated orange rind. When the rhubarb is soft, you are in for a delicious treat.
If you prepare your food carefully and correctly, frozen fruits and vegetables may last up to a year's time.