While it may be tempting to purchase more food items than necessary during a sale, there is a fine line between saving money and wasting food when buying in bulk. In this blog post, we will be focusing on how to effectively freeze fruits and vegetables so that they can be saved and used on a later date.
First of all, keep in mind that food that has already started to go bad will not be made better by freezing. Instead, choose to freeze fruits and vegetables that are at the peak of maturity.
Freezing Your Vegetables
The process of freezing vegetables does take some effort, however once frozen, vegetables can last up to a year (same for fruits). The first step is to wash the vegetables thoroughly and cut them down into usable portions. Then, by utilizing a technique called blanching, which involves boiling and rapidly cooling of the vegetables, you eliminate the enzymes which can alter the color, texture and flavour of the food during storage. The amount of blanching time required varies depending on the vegetable. After blanching is complete, the vegetables are now ready to be placed in freezer containers or bags; be sure to remove excess air before sealing and use airtight packaging to keep moisture out.
Cooking Frozen Vegetables
The great thing about frozen vegetables is that there is usually no need to thaw them before cooking. If thawing is necessary, thaw in the sealed packages at room temperature. You can use different methods to cook your vegetables from their frozen state:
- boiling – use minimal amounts of water in order to retain the best color, taste and nutrition
- reheating – in a heavy saucepan on top of a double broiler, or in the microwave
- pan-frying – cooked over medium heat with butter or margarine
- baking – as part of a roast or casserole; alternatively, individually on a greased baking dish
Remember that the vegetables have been cooked slightly due to the blanching process, so they will require less time to cook than fresh vegetables.
Restrictions on Freezing Fruits and Vegetables
Although all fruits can be frozen in theory, use discretion when deciding how you will use the frozen fruit. Fruits may become mushy if thawed completely, so it is best to not let them thaw completely, or alternatively, to use them in a smoothie or other blended mixture. As a general rule, high-water-content fruits and vegetables will not freeze well. Examples include celery, lettuce, cucumber, apple, grapefruit, and grapes. Other vegetables that have qualified for the do-not freeze list include onions, radishes, potatoes (other than mashed), sprouts, and artichokes.
Freezing fruits and vegetables allows you to take advantage of discounted prices, to cut down on visits to grocery stores, and to potentially prepare meals quicker. If freezing individual vegetables does not suit you, consider using various vegetables in a soup or sauce, then freezing the soup or sauce as a whole.
Good luck and happy freezing!