Recipes and Tips for Healthier Living and Smarter Budgeting

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Freezing Fresh Produce

I have been learning about the proper way to freeze different fresh fruits and vegetables and thought I would share what I've learned so far. (If you already know these things, bear with me. :))

Corn: We have been getting a lot more corn from our garden than our family can possibly eat as corn on the cob, and since most of it ripened at the same time, I thought I would just spend a day canning it. When I was growing up my family never grew corn in our garden, so I had to research to know what to do with it. First of all, I found out that corn is best preserved within 6 hours after it has been harvested. That was certainly not possible in my case; I got to it as soon as I could, but it wasn't that quickly. Secondly, I thought I could just cold pack it like I'm used to, but I found out that corn has to be pressure canned, since it has such low acidity, in order to not grow botulism. We don't have a pressure cooker and I didn't have the motivation or energy to try to locate one to borrow on short notice. So I realized my only other option was to freeze it (and I prefer the taste of frozen corn anyway). I didn't figure there was any trick to freezing corn, but I looked it up anyway and found out that there is more to it than I thought. I figured I could just cut the corn off the cob, throw it in bags, and put it in the freezer. But apparently, the flavor of raw corn loses its quality over a period of only two months, so cooking it beforehand for three or four minutes--called "blanching"--is preferable. It's also important to cool it quickly (in ice water, if possible) right after blanching, so it doesn't become mushy. Then, if you place the corn-filled Ziploc bags flat on a cookie sheet in a single layer, they will freeze better and stack more easily after freezing.

Raspberries: I bought a half-flat of these a couple weeks ago and was in heaven! Eating them was like reliving my childhood, when my mom and siblings and I used to walk over to my great-grandpa's house and pick several loaf-pans full of raspberries at a time. I love eating raspberries as-is, but since we had so many I thought maybe I'd do something different with them as well. But when my cousin gave me a tip on how to freeze them, I decided to try that to save them that way until I knew how I wanted to use them. And I love the result! This is definitely the best way to freeze raspberries: Place a kitchen towel on a cookie sheet and spread the raspberries out on the towel in a single layer. Freeze, then pop the berries off the towel and place them in bag or container. The raspberries freeze individually this way instead of in a big clump, so it's easy to just grab a handful to go with breakfast or whatever you want. Much, much easier!

Peaches: If you need tips on freezing peaches, refer back to this post.

Any others you want to know about or can offer tips on?

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