I’m a sucker for a good deal. So whenever I see not-so-perfect organic tomatoes for $2 a pound or piles of corn at a
rock-bottom price, I stock up. Find 20 quick summer
dinners packed with fresh, in-season veggies here.
However, instead of subsisting on a diet of the-vegetable-deal-of-the-day until they’re all gone, I preserve them using a
money-saving kitchen tool I already have. Since the last thing I want to do is stand over a hot stove processing canning jars
for hours, 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.
One trick I use is to freeze the cut-up fruits and vegetables on a large baking sheet before packing them up in a freezer
bag. 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. Added bonus: freezing locks the
vegetables in a relatively nutrient-rich state.
There are so many yummy recipes that use frozen fruits and vegetables (like the incredibly easy Instant Frozen Yogurt pictured
. 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. I scoop out a few cups of berries, peaches or other fruit to make a pie or tart. Find a dozen
simple summer fruit pies and tart recipes here.
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. Find
delicious homemade pasta sauce recipes here.
So don’t pass up a great deal—just freeze it.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Prepare produce.
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. Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl of ice water.
Drain well; pat dry.
Click here to see step-by-step photos, blanching and reheating times and details on how to prepare 25 fruits and vegetables
from asparagus to strawberries.
3. Spread in a single layer on a large baking sheet and freeze until solid.
4. Pack the frozen vegetables or fruit in quart- or gallon-size freezer bags or pack them in
bags that are made to use with a vacuum sealer and seal them airtight before storing in the freezer.