How to Freeze 16 Fruits and Vegetables

By: Carolyn Malcoun, EatingWell Senior Food Editor

Got extra produce? Just freeze it! Store the best of summer’s harvest in your freezer to enjoy all year long.

frozen fruit

I’m a sucker for a good deal. So whenever I see not-so-perfect organic tomatoes for $2/pound or piles of corn at a rock-bottom price, I stock up. Instead of subsisting on a diet of the vegetable-deal-of-the-day until they’re all gone, I preserve them. But the last thing I want to do is stand over a hot stove processing canning jars for hours, so I turn to the freezer. Full disclaimer: You will have to stand over the stove for a couple of minutes to blanch (quickly-cooking in boiling water) vegetables before freezing. This step kills bacteria and stops the action of food-degrading enzymes, slows vitamin and mineral loss and brightens color. The subsequent freeze locks the vegetables in a relatively nutrient-rich state.

But before I put my bounty into the freezer, I freeze the cut-up fruits and vegetables on a large baking sheet. That way, the individual pieces don’t congeal into a single, solid block. I can take whatever I need out of the bag and put the rest back in the freezer. I no longer have to commit to using the entire container. I scoop out a few cups of berries, peaches or other fruit to make a pie, crisp or easy no-fuss frozen yogurt. When the produce section at the grocery store looks bleak, I stir my frozen vegetables into a soup, stew or make a quick vegetable side dish. And nothing beats homemade tomato sauce with summer-ripe tomatoes: I can make it—even at the height of winter—with tomatoes I froze this summer. So don’t pass up a great deal—just freeze it.

Related: Easy Recipes for Frozen Fruit and Vegetables

Step 1

how to freeze vegetables step 1

Prepare produce. (Details on how to prepare 16 fruits and vegetables to freeze to follow.)

Step 2

how to freeze vegetables step 2

Most vegetables should be blanched (briefly cooked in boiling water) before freezing. Fruit does not need to be blanched. 

To blanch: Bring 1 gallon of water per pound of prepped vegetables (about 2 cups) to a boil in a large pot. Add the vegetables, cover, return to a boil and cook. See suggested blanching time for vegetables below.

Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl of ice water. Drain well; pat dry.

Step 3

how to freeze vegetables step 3

Spread fruit or vegetables in a single layer on a large baking sheet and freeze until solid.

Step 4

how to freeze vegetables step 4

Pack the frozen vegetables or fruit in quart- or gallon-size freezer bags. Or pack fruits and vegetables in bags that are made to use with a vacuum sealer and seal them airtight before storing in the freezer.

When frozen foods come in contact with air, off flavors can develop. Vacuum sealers, which remove all the air from a package, help keep flavors fresh. Hand-held models are economical, light and easy to store. They come with reusable plastic bags with zip-close tops and a vent where the sealer attaches to suck the air from the bag. Larger models are bulkier to store, but they’re more durable so they’re great if you plan to freeze food regularly. Their heavy-duty plastic bags can be cut and sealed to create any size bag.

Recipes to Use Your Frozen Produce

Peach Frozen Yogurt
15
We like to use chopped frozen peaches, but you can use frozen berries or whatever frozen fruit you have on hand in this ultra-quick frozen yogurt that is made without an ice cream maker.
Garden Tomato Sauce
1
This garden-fresh tomato sauce is a delicious way to use summer-ripe tomatoes. Or freeze whole tomatoes and make this sauce later on in the winter. Just remove the cores and freeze them whole. Then, turn your frozen tomatoes into a garden-fresh sauce any time of the year. For pizza sauce: In Step 2, cook until thickened to about the consistency of pizza sauce, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove from the heat, transfer to a blender, add 2 tablespoons tomato paste and blend until smooth.
Quick Vegetable Saute
4
Add a little shallot and dried dill or tarragon to any mixture of frozen vegetables and have a delicious side dish on the table fast. If you'd like to make this recipe with fresh vegetables instead, cut them into bite-size pieces and add a tablespoon or two of water to the skillet when you add the vegetables; adjust the cooking time as needed.
Homemade Pizza Sauce
11
This recipe for garden-fresh pizza sauce makes a batch large enough to top several pizzas. You can make it right now with fresh tomatoes, but if you have a bumper crop or just want to buy a lot of in-season tomatoes and put them up for another day, canning is not your only option: try freezing them. Just remove the cores and freeze them whole. Then, turn your frozen tomatoes into pizza sauce any time of the year.
More Healthy Recipes

Guidelines for Prepping & Blanching

Asparagus

1. Asparagus

Prep: Trim woody ends.
Blanching Time: 2-3 minutes

To Reheat Frozen Vegetables (Microwave): 1-2 minutes
To Reheat Frozen Vegetables (Steaming): 2-3 minutes


Bell Peppers

2. Bell Peppers

Prep: Remove seeds; cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
Blanching Time: 2-3 minutes

To Reheat Frozen Vegetables (Microwave): 1-2 minutes
To Reheat Frozen Vegetables (Steaming): 2-3 minutes


Broccoli & Cauliflower

3. Broccoli & Cauliflower

Prep: Cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch florets.
Blanching Time: 3 minutes

To Reheat Frozen Vegetables (Microwave): 2-4 minutes
To Reheat Frozen Vegetables (Steaming): 2-4 minutes


Brussels Sprouts

4. Brussels Sprouts

Prep: Remove outer leaves, trim stems. Halve small sprouts or quarter larger.
Blanching Time: 2-3 minutes

To Reheat Frozen Vegetables (Microwave): 2-4 minutes
To Reheat Frozen Vegetables (Steaming): 4-6 minutes


Carrots

5. Carrots

Prep: Peel and cut into 1/4-inch slices or cubes.
Blanching Time: 2 minutes

To Reheat Frozen Vegetables (Microwave): 1-2 minutes
To Reheat Frozen Vegetables (Steaming): 2-3 minutes


Corn

6. Corn

Prep: Husk corn and remove kernels.
Blanching Time: 2 minutes

To Reheat Frozen Vegetables (Microwave): 1-2 minutes
To Reheat Frozen Vegetables (Steaming): 2-3 minutes


Chard, Kale & Spinach

7. Dark Leafy Greens: Chard, Kale & Spinach

Prep: Remove any woody stems and/or ribs; chop if desired.
Blanching Time: 2-3 minutes

To Reheat Frozen Vegetables (Microwave): 1-2 minutes
To Reheat Frozen Vegetables (Steaming): 2-3 minutes


Green Beans

8. Green Beans

Prep: Trim stem ends.
Blanching Time: 3 minutes

To Reheat Frozen Vegetables (Microwave): 1-2 minutes
To Reheat Frozen Vegetables (Steaming): 2-3 minutes


Peas

9. Peas: Shelling Peas, Snap Peas & Snow Peas

Prep: Remove any fibrous stems; remove shelling peas from the pod.
Blanching Time: 1-2 minutes

To Reheat Frozen Vegetables (Microwave): 1-2 minutes
To Reheat Frozen Vegetables (Steaming): 2-3 minutes


Tomatoes

10. Tomatoes

Prep: Remove the core.
Blanching Time: N/A

To Reheat Frozen Vegetables (Microwave): N/A
To Reheat Frozen Vegetables (Steaming): N/A


Zucchini & Summer Squash

11. Zucchini & Summer Squash

Prep: Cut into 1/2-inch slices.
Blanching Time: 2-3 minutes

To Reheat Frozen Vegetables (Microwave): 1-2 minutes
To Reheat Frozen Vegetables (Steaming): 2-3 minutes


berries

12. Blackberries, Blueberries & Raspberries

Prep: Wash and pat dry.
Blanching Time: N/A

To Reheat Frozen Fruit: N/A


Cherries

13. Cherries

Prep: Remove stems and pits, if desired.
Blanching Time: N/A

To Reheat Frozen Fruit: N/A


Nectarines, Peaches & Plums

14. Nectarines, Peaches & Plums

Prep: Remove pit; cut into sixths.
Blanching Time: N/A

To Reheat Frozen Fruit: N/A


Rhubarb

15. Rhubarb

Prep: Trim woody ends; cut into 1-inch pieces.
Blanching Time: N/A

To Reheat Frozen Fruit: N/A


Strawberries

16. Strawberries

Prep: Remove the stem and hull. Cut large ones in half.
Blanching Time: N/A

To Reheat Frozen Fruit: N/A

Watch: How to Make Frozen Pineapple Nice Cream

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