Preserving summer's abundance for tomorrow
Which Fruits and Veggies Freeze Well?
by Dollar Stretcher Contributors
Using a Freezer Effectively
14 Ways to Buy Produce for Less
Learn to Preserve Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables
Freezing Fruits and Veggies
Which fruits and veggies freeze well? I'm seeing some good prices both at the grocery store and local fruit stands. We have a large chest-type freezer with plenty of room. I've never been a canner. Seems like I should be able to do a little prep work and freeze some of the summer harvest. What fruits and veggies freeze well? And, are there any special techniques that minimize damage?
Know How to Prevent Freezer Burn
You can freeze almost any fruit or veggie except lettuce. Freezing changes the consistency of most things, but the flavor will still be excellent. Anything delicate or juicy will be mushy when thawed regardless of what you do, but if you're cooking with it or making a smoothie, it doesn't matter in the end. I personally chop and freeze flat in baggies onions and peppers. For tomatoes, I finely dice or even put them in the blender or food processor and then freeze in small containers to use as a base for soups or pasta sauce. Be sure to keep paste type tomatoes such as Roma separate and label the container so you know which are best for sauce.
For fruits that tend to turn brown (peaches and bananas), sprinkle with a bit of Fruit-Fresh® (found in the canning isle). For the really juicy ones, freeze in small containers. For things like berries and banana slices, freeze flat on a baking tray and transfer to freezer bags. I don't like the consistency of apples or pears that have been frozen, so I make applesauce and freeze that.
The key to not getting freezer burn is to make sure the item is not warmer than room temperature when it goes into the freezer, and once it's frozen, it needs to be placed in a thick freezer bag or container with all possible air removed and kept frozen until you're ready to use. Do not place it in the freezer door where it will get warmer and colder as people open and close the freezer.
Hope you enjoy your frozen goodies!
Get the Guide
My recommendation would be to purchase the Blue Book Guide to Preserving. This book answers most questions about canning, freezing, and dehydrating foods, along with recipes. It can be found at Walmart, farm stores, Amazon, and other locations.
Easy to Freeze Peppers
I freeze green peppers for cooking in the winter months. If no time to chop, I just wash them and put into a zipper bag. Before I seal it, I crush them down with my hands, seal, and then freeze. Then when I need some to cook, I just take out the piece I need and rinse it off. The slightly frozen pieces are easy to chop.
Freeze to Have Available in Winter
I customarily freeze all my excess produce each summer, so that I have it available during the winter. I can use the produce in soups and cooked meals, but in the case of vegetables, I won't be able to have them crisp and raw.
I freeze peppers, celery, onions, and carrots simply by removing any seeds and then mincing them into small pieces and placing in individual baggies. When cutting up the peppers, I remove the white portion inside, since it's bitter.
I also cook tomato sauce and then freeze it instead of canning it. Since the flavor is in the seeds and skin, I only take out the bitter white portions of the inside and cook the rest.
For freezing berries, I pick them when ripe, set them out on a cookie sheet so they're not touching, and then freeze. After they are fully frozen, they can be packed in baggies or vacuum sealed.
Enjoy Easy Frozen Whole Tomatoes
I wash tomatoes of any size, put them on cookie sheets in a single layer, and freeze. When frozen, I bag them and put back in the freezer. When I need tomatoes for cooking, I take out what I need and thaw them in a bowl. The skins slide off as soon as they thaw. I use them as I would canned tomatoes. Almost all vegetables should be blanched in boiling water for about two minutes, submerged in ice water, bagged, and frozen when cool. Most small berries and grapes don't need to be blanched. Wash and freeze on a cookie sheet and in a single layer. Peaches, nectarines, rhubarb, and apples freeze well but will be a bit mushy on thawing. Most fruits are best eaten mostly frozen. I have never had any luck with freezing melons of any kind. There is too much water compared to solid fruit. They break down too much to be attractive or tasty. I hope that you enjoy your goodies through the winter.
Freeze Corn in the Shucks
Corn can be frozen in the shucks. I just put the frozen corn into the microwave for about six minutes for two ears of corn. When I take them out, I use a towel to handle them as they are quite hot. As I strip the shucks off, the silks come off also, or sometime I just cut them off with scissors.
Let Your Grocer's Freezer Section Be Your Guide
My rule is if I see it frozen in the freezer section of a store, then I know I can freeze it myself. I do this with scrambled eggs, blueberries, and strawberries. Of course, you can't freeze lettuce or watermelon, but let the freezer section of your supermarket be your guide.
Start Your Search Online
Peel and cut up peaches. Put a bit of sugar with them or just throw them into freezer bags and put them in the freezer. If they are sugared, they thaw faster. We throw unsweetened ones into the blender with milk or yogurt, sugar, and a bit of vanilla for a smoothie or shake. Blueberries and blackberries can be frozen as is. There is so much you can do. Just Google the questions you have and you should get information on anything you want to preserve.
Marie in WV
Buy groceries, earn cash back at Checkout 51
Freeze Fruits as Pie Fillings
For most fruits/veggies, the process is the same. Remove the stems, rinse in a colander or water bath, and spread out in a single layer on towels to dry. This part can be messy, so I recommend paper towels or cotton "tea" towels that can be bleached. Once they're completely dry, transfer to a single layer on a cookie sheet and freeze overnight. Then store your produce in an airtight storage bags.
We've done several types of berries, tomatoes, green beans, and peppers this way with good results. Diced peaches, pineapples, melon, etc. can be frozen using the "single layer" method for fruit salads and smoothies.
Slice peaches, apricots, apples, etc. and freeze together for pie filling. Simply allow the bag to thaw and dump it in your mixing bowl when you're ready to bake.
Ask the Experts About Freezing Fruits and Veggies
The first place to look is on the web. Go to your state's extension site. Actually any state's agriculture extension site will have techniques and recipes. The Cooperative Extension Service from the University of Georgia is an especially good source for information.
Also check your library. There are several reliable books including Putting Food By. You want to make sure you are using good, tested techniques, so you don't end up wasting food, time, and money.
Sarah in Olathe, KS
Take the Next Step:
- Continue to look for new ways to trim food costs. Visit our food & groceries section each week to get tips for keeping more of your hard-earned dollars in your pocket.
- Visit the TDS library for more on freezing foods.
Share your thoughts about this article with the editor.