Freezing is probably the easiest way to preserve the harvest from your garden or the produce you pick up at the farmers’ market when it is in season. Most fruits and vegetables freeze well. If properly stored in freezer bags or containers at or below 0°F, fruits and vegetables will last a year in the freezer. This means they need to be stored in a container without air. We resisted buying a vacuum sealer for longer than we should have. As a result, we had a lot of bags of green beans that wound up looking like blocks of green ice after only a few months. After we started using the vacuum sealer, however, green beans last for a year with no damage or decrease in quality. Don’t worry about the cost of electricity when using a vacuum sealer. It uses about 100 watts total for the ten seconds or so that it takes to vacuum and seal both ends, so if you sealed five things per day, every day of the year, it would cost you 5 cents total for the year.
Most vegetables freeze well after blanching, which means being placed in boiling water for a minute or two, followed by being plunged into cold water to stop the cooking action. The amount of time required for blanching varies from one vegetable to another.
Vegetables that freeze well after blanching:
Summer squash and green peppers turn to mush when thawed, so it’s important to plan how you will use the thawed vegetable and prepare the frozen vegetable for that use. I shred zucchini for zucchini bread and freeze it in the correct quantity for the recipe, and I chop green pepper into strips and freeze them in small quantities to use in stir-fries and chili, although the crunchiness of a fresh pepper is definitely absent. When freezing tomatoes, I chop up a hot pepper and add it to a container of tomatoes that will be used for making chili.
This is an excerpt from Ecothrifty: Cheaper, Greener Choices for a Happier, Healthier Life by Deborah Niemann
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