How to freeze your excess fruit and vegetables
by Simon Ward | 10 September 2012 | 4 commentsTweet
If you've got a glut of homegrown (or shop-bought) summer produce, here's how to preserve it for the winter.
If you’re diligent (and, dare we say, lucky), come the end of the summer you’ll have a glut of fruit and vegetables in your garden ready for harvesting. But if there’s more than you can possibly eat, how can you preserve them for future use in your freezer?
Let’s take a look at some methods.
If you’ve got a lot of blackberries, blackcurrants, blueberries, cherries or redcurrants, a good way to freeze them is to use the open tray method. This involves simply putting them one by one, so they’re not touching, on a baking sheet on a baking tray and popping them in the freezer for a few hours.
Once they’re hard you can pick them off and pop them in freezer bags, thereby stopping them all mushing together.
Consider using them before they’re completely thawed out, as they may go mushy once they reach room temperature, particularly the softer fruits. Or you could add them to a recipe, such as a coulis or puree. For example, I added last year’s blackberries to a yoghurt mixture.
Don’t freeze uncooked strawberries, as due to their high water content you’ll get a red mush when you dethaw them; cook them or blend them first.
With many vegetables, a technique known as blanching (essentially boiling them in a large pan of water for a short period of time) will lock in most of the flavour and the goodness.
Veggies you can blanch include carrots, broccoli, beetroot, asparagus, courgettes, cabbage and leeks.
The website allotment.org.uk has an excellent, downloadable blanching chart, which gives the blanching times for a variety of veg.
Some people recommend cooling the veggies down in the fridge (make sure they've cooled down first) before putting them in the freezer. That lessens the immediate load on your freezer.
You can’t freeze salad foods like lettuce, cucumber, kale and radishes, again due to their high water content.
You can freeze potatoes and onions, but you’re better off keeping them stored in a cool, dry place, ideally in a paper or hessian sack. Just be careful they don’t get too cold in the depths of winter.
You can freeze herbs such as chives, mint and parsley. Make sure you dry and wash them first. You can either freeze them whole or chop them up, pack them into ice cube trays and cover them with water. Once the herbs have frozen into cubes, transfer them to freezer bags and label them.
Recipes for using excess fruit and veg
Once you've defrosted them, what about using your goodies in some of these great recipes?