How to Freeze Fresh Summer Vegetables: Smart Storage
The freezer is our friend. It operates at its most efficient when filled. So treat it nicely and fill it up with lots of summer-ripe veggies.
Vegetable flavor is at it’s best during summertime, and trust me, you’ll be happy mid-winter when you can pluck some frozen veggies out of your freezer instead of paying sky-high prices at the store for so-so quality.
There are a few instructions that you must follow to freeze vegetables properly. First, you should cut vegetables into uniform pieces. Green beans are fine whole, as are snow and snap peas, and okra. Cauliflower and broccoli are better if cut into florets. Bell peppers can be diced or cut into strips. Lima beans and other shell beans (butter beans, black-eyed peas, etc.) also freeze well.
All these vegetables need blanching. This is simply plunging them into boiling water for 2–3 minutes, then draining well. Lay the vegetables in a single layer on a double layer of paper towels. Once they’re completely dry, put them in plastic freezer bags and seal them, forcing all the air out. You can also use a vacuum food-saver or rigid plastic containers, but if you use the latter, be sure to leave an inch of headspace in case of expansion.
Tomatoes can be frozen in many ways, too. The easiest way is to cut them in quarters, bag and freeze. I prefer to blanch them whole for one minute to slip off their skins, then seed and freeze in usable quantities of 2–4 cups. Even more useful: make a big batch of tomato sauce, divide it into individual portions and freeze the portions in separate bags.
Winter squashes taste better if they are cooked thoroughly before freezing. I like to roast and then purée them for best flavor. (It’s easy to make a pie when you have a stash of already cooked filling!) Personally, I don’t care for freezing summer squash, eggplant, or potatoes. They get soggy and are best eaten freshly cooked.
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