Tips on how you can enjoy your garden veggies all year long!
Don’t Forget About Your Freezer
Summer gardens have been planted, and it won’t be long before it will be time to preserve the harvest. Canning and dehydrating are always options, but freezing is my favorite way to preserve vegetables.
I like freezing because it’s fast. Freezing also preserves the fresh flavor and bright color of the vegetables. And, because vegetables are harvested at their peak and prepared and frozen quickly, they keep their nutrients.
You can prepare excellent frozen vegetables at home by following these tips.
1. Find a good set of instructions. I recommend the National Center for Home Food Preservation, http://nchfp.uga.edu/. They have lots of great information about freezing, canning, dehydrating, pickling and making jams and jellies. You can find general information or instructions for preserving a specific food.
2. Harvest the vegetables when they are tender and fresh. The quality will not improve with freezing. Start with the best.
3. Blanch vegetables to preserve their quality and extend the time they can be stored in the freezer. Using a blancher (a pan with an insert that holds the vegetables and allows you to lower the vegetables into the boiling water and lift them out) makes this job easier. Chill the vegetables in ice water for the same amount of time they were blanched.
4. Package the vegetables in air-tight boxes, plastic containers or bags designed for the freezer. Remove as much of the air as possible. Using containers specially designed for the freezer will help preserve the quality of the vegetables for a longer time.
5. Label and date the containers so you know what is in them and how long they have been stored.
6. Store frozen vegetables in an upright or chest freezer at 0° F or colder. The quality of the vegetables won’t last as long if they are stored in the warmer temperatures of the refrigerator’s freezer compartment.
Start preparing now so you will be ready when the peas, spinach, corn and summer squash are ready to harvest.
This article was written by Ann Henderson