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ISO Tips for freezing extra fruit and vegetables!

I tend to over purchase food from the farmer's market and because I am only cooking for two people, I end up with half a bunch too much kale or half a pint of berries that I don't want to waste (but also don't want to toss into a bread recipe or dessert). I'd rather keep things in the freezer in some sort of usable state so that when winter rears its ugly head, I'll have some semblance of summer goodness left! Does anyone have any tips for freezing veggies and fruit in a somewhat close-to-original state? I've done the strawberries on a freezer sheet thing (does this work with all fruit?) and have some kale and other leafy greens like spinach that id love to make the most of. Any and all suggestions are much appreciated!!!

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  1. I freeze strawberries 2 ways - either whole on a cookie sheet as you mentioned, or washed and sliced in airtight bags. Leafy greens, tomatoes, peaches, broccoli, and other similar veggies are blanched and frozen. Skins should be peeled.

    There's a book with a title along the lines of "putting things by" that gives all sorts of information on freezing, drying, and canning. You might look into it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: odkaty

      Thanks so much! That is very helpful.

    2. Long-simmered greens freeze well in plastic freezer bags.
      Blueberries freeze easily- just wash, dry thoroughly, and freeze in bags of containers.... as long as they're dry, they won't stick together and can simply be scooped out in quantities you need. Of course, the texture won't be the same, but they'll still taste great when eaten frozen or thrown into cooked applications.

      1. following guidelines from a recent Cooks Illustrated article, I have been freezing berries on a cookie sheet with success. Do not wash first, the extra moisture will be a problem. For vegetables, I blanch, drain, remove as much moisture as possible (ie, with a tea towel) and then freeze on a cookie sheet (single layer), then place in ziploc bag for storage. This has worked well for kale, green peans, sugar snap peas. You may want to visit the cooks illustrated web site to find that article - I think it was in the July 07 issue, or maybe June.

        1. If you don't have a Joy of Cooking, get one. It has lots of basic info on freezing vegetables and fruits, among *many* other useful things.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Louise

            I definitely need to get myself a good reference book! I followed the baking sheet tips for the berries, and will do so with the greens as well. When I want to use the greens, how do I defrost? Just toss in a pan? Thanks again for all the help here!!

            1. re: mipiace

              Or toss the bag in the microwave on extra low. And one thing I forgot to mention - when you're freezing the veggies/fruit measure them and mark the measurement on the bag along with the contents and date frozen. There's nothing quite so interesting as emptying out one of the huge chest freezers full of unlabeled mystery items. I *love* old people :D

              I've never done (or heard of) the greens flat on a cookie sheet before. I'll have to try that!

              1. re: odkaty

                the cooks illustrated article (Aug. 07 issue) includes the following guidelines -

                for tough greens, remove tough stems, blanch in salted water for 2 minutes, shock in ice water, drain, spread out insingle layer on baking sheet lined with paper or cotton towel, freeze in single layer on baking sheet lined with parchment for 2-3 hours, then once frozen, package in ziploc freezer bags in 2-cup portions

                to use them, no need to thaw for moist heat cooking methods (steam/boil) or using in recipes, but partially thaw for dry heat cooking methods (saute)

                they recommend this blanch/dry/freeze method for corn, green beans, sow peas, snap peas, shell peas, greens - high moisture veggies such as tomatoes, zucchini, cucumber, and eggplant do not freeze well

                I have used this method for kale, green beans, and snap peas, and I was pleased with the outcome

                for fruit, CI recommends a sugar syrup - I have not tried it because I don't want to add sugar to fruit - I just spread out unwashed berries (and pitted sour cherries) on a baking sheet and freeze - works well

                1. re: honeybee926

                  Cool, thanks. I'll have to see if I can find that issue.

                  My inherited methods follow yours through the "spread out in a single layer." The difference is that after the blanching process we then measure out into portions, remove air, and freeze. There's no freezing on baking sheets. Well, not entirely true! I actually freeze whole tomatoes, berries, tablespoons of pesto, peppers, and a whole lot more on cookie sheets, then drop into bags. It's just the stuff requiring blanching that I was taught otherwise.

          2. If you have the freezer space, here are two good things to do in the summertime: 1) Make a big casserole of eggplant, onion, and green pepper in tomato sauce, with or without breadcrumbs, olive oil, and cheese, as you wish. This will come in handy during the busy holiday season when you need something to take to a party (and eggplant will be more expensive then). 2) Mix sliced peaches exactly as you would to make a peach pie or cobbler (sugar, flour, Minute Tapioca, whatever you use) then line the pan you would normally bake it in with a plastic bag, pour in the filling, sea the bag, and freeze. When it's frozen hard, remove the bag and put just that in the freezer, thus freeing your pan for other use. When you want to bake the dessert, the shape will already fit the pan and you can just add the crust or topping. Obviously you can do this multiple times.

            1. I freeze strawberries, peaches, wild blueberries and raspberries that have been sugared and with lemon juice in small baggies (strawberries need chopping). In the winter, when I am desperate and need some quick desserts, I have a variety of fruits on hand to make coulis or to serve along side cakes, or to make sauces.

              I am in the process of sauteeing bunches of fresh spinach (olive oil and garlic, no salt) in small batches after it has been left in a colander to strain. When I thaw and chop, the addition to these frozen, not store bought frozen, is far superior in cheese and spinach manicotti, lamb and spinach burgers,and other places I hide greens so my hubby will eat it. I often serve it or swiss chard cold with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon and pinch of salt as a side dish.
              Next week, we are going bean picking. I am not sure the variety but it is the white ones that we depod. We get a bushel and depod, do not cook or wash, lay on a cookie sheet, freeze and put them in large bags. These are absolutely delicious in minestrone, boiled and topped with some herbs and olive oil, and added to stews. This is one product you cannot find frozen or fresh the rest of the year and dried beans are just not the same. Plus, we have a couple of traditional pasta and fagioli dinners (18-20 family members) and it takes a shipload of beans for that. In the winter, I add those frozen beans, water, oil and some rosemary or sage and homemade sausages to an fireproof dish and bake in my fireplace on those cold winter days. Delicious comfort food.