A documentation of my preservation and preparation of local foods as I work through the seasons. This will serve as a reference tool for me in the future and as a sharing guide for family and friends...and anyone else interested. Hopefully, I can offer some useful methods, tips and recipes to share with everyone--be they novice or pro--and encourage them to join me in the exciting world of preserving and cooking with local foods.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Freeze it!

Freezing is the easiest of preservation processes and, unlike heat processing, keeps most of  the vegetable's vitamins, nutrients, etc. intact.   The process for freezing is as follows:  clean and trim vegetables, add to boiling water and bring water back to boil; boil food for suggested blanching time-- usually 2-5 minutes (guide to be found in any canning book); then immerse in freezing cold water for few minutes to stop cooking process; when cool enough to handle, drain,  pat dry and package in freezer bags or containers.

There's no reason for any garden produce to go to waste when freezing is so quick and easy.  Even one or two bags of frozen veggies is valuable when you need it for something you're cooking during the Winter and don't have to run out for it or substitute.  Berries, tomatoes, onions, celery and peppers need no processing.  Berrys and tomatoes can be frozen on cookie sheets, then put into bags.  Onions, peppers and celery can be cut to your liking; then packaged and put in the freezer.  These are all great for winter soups, stews, sauces and casseroles.

If you are using plastic bags instead of containers, I first package small portions (usually 1-2 cups) in inexpensive snack or sandwich bags; then put them in one large ziploc freezer bag.  This saves on the cost of freezer bags and eliminates wasted food when you only need a small portion.

If you are doing a lot of one veggie, save and freeze the blanching water.  If there are ends, leaves or stalks that you are not freezing (asparagus ends, broccoli stalks, corn cobs or celery leaves) add them in the blanching water and cook slowly for an hour or so to add extra flavor to your broth.  Package the broth in one cup portionsas above, but be sure it is totally cool first as it will otherwise leak in the small inexpensive bags.   I use this frozen broth for making rice, pasta, couscous, etc; or if a recipe calls for water, I use this instead.  It definately adds more flavor to your dish.
My niece, Sue Jones, and I froze Asparagus and Broth.
We'll enjoy soups this Winter--see recipe file for Asparagus Soups.

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