One of my favorite kitchen tricks is to freeze different fruits and vegetables throughout the summer months and even into early fall. When produce is seasonally and locally sourced it’s at its nutritional height so it’s the perfect time to not only eat them fresh, but also to freeze them and seal in those good nutrients so you can enjoy them at a later date. Much easier than canning and pickling, freezing produce only takes a little bit of prep work you’ve got ready-to-go fruits and veggies to use all year long. Use this guide to help you preserve the summer bounty and all its nourishing goodness.
Step 1: Choose and prep your produce
- Wash and dry the fruits and veggies
- Cut off stems, extra leaves, and other bits that you don’t normally like to eat
- Chop your fruits and veggies into your preferred sized
- Example: 1 inch pepper strips, ½ inch broccoli florets, diced onion, etc.
Step 2: Blanching
- Blanching your veggies helps cook off any unwanted dirt or wax and helps seal in nutrients. It also makes the cooking process much quicker when it’s time to use the frozen veggies.
- Only blanch veggies. Fruit should be raw when frozen. If freezing fruit, skip to step 3.
- Bring water to a boil in a large pot, add vegetable and let boil for about 1-2 minutes. Most veggies will turn the brightest shade of color – that’s when you know it’s time to quickly remove them!
- Immediately submerge the cooked veggies into a cold ice/water bath to stop the cooking process
- Drain well and pat dry
Step 3: Two part freezing
- Lay the prepped produce on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet in a single layer and pop in to the freezer. This will ensure that the produce doesn’t turn into a large lump during the freezing process.
- Once the produce is frozen, place it all in a re-sealable freezer-friendly bag. Label and date the bag and place back in the freezer until you’re ready to use.
Tips for Using Frozen Produce
- Toss frozen broccoli, peppers, onions, carrots, etc. into a weeknight stir-fry or pasta dish
- Add frozen strawberry, banana or mango to your morning smoothie
- Top your morning oatmeal with defrosted frozen raspberries
- Add frozen greens to smoothie, pasta, soups/stews
- Thaw broccoli in a to-go container in your with a pinch of salt and pepper for easy re-heatable side dish
By: Katie Cavuto, RD, Chef