Getting a great deal on seasonal produce can be super satisfying, but there's nothing worse than throwing that last bundle of asparagus or box of raspberries away because your family simply couldn't eat it all before it spoiled. Solution? Make friends with your freezer! Here are some tips for freezing fresh produce successfully.
What You'll Need
- Freezer bags
- Glass or heavy plastic containers with a tight lids
- Sharpie for labeling
What You'll Do
1. Clean the fruits and vegetables like you would if you planned to eat them fresh. Wash berries, trim beans, slice mangos or apples, take the peels off bananas, chop greens and herbs, etc.
Note: Raw vegetables with a high water content (zucchini, mushrooms, potatoes) don't freeze as well as ones with low content (beans, carrots, corn) because when vegetables freeze, the water inside their cells expands and bursts. When those vegetables defrost, the burst cells = soggy, weirdly textured foods. Proper preparation helps minimize this problem.
2. Prepare the fruits and vegetables. Blanch the vegetables (this step is skipped with all fruits) by dropping them in boiling water for 3-4 mins and then plunging them into ice water to stop the cooking process. This keeps the cell bursting mentioned above to a minimum. Also, any fruit or vegetable that turns brown when you cut it (like an apple or avocado) should be quickly brushed with a lemon/water mixture. The acid helps maintain the normal color and texture when freezing, but be sure to let the liquid dry fully to prevent freezer burn.
3. Pack um up! For whole/dry items, fill large freezer bags with a single layer of vegetables and lay flat in the freezer. The more air circulation and the colder the temperature, the better. For items like fruits in syrup, pureed vegetables (think baby food!), or fresh salsas, use the heavy rigid containers and be sure to leave space at the top to allow for expanding.
4. Label bags and containers with item name and the date.
That's about all there is to it! Feel free to go for the 5/$1 deals on avocados this spring and take advantage of the low cost of apples this fall. With a few simple steps, you can stretch those savings by freezing your fresh produce items for later use. Your future self thanks you!