When Canning Isn’t an Option – Freezer Guide to Preserving Your Vegetables

Backyard vegetable gardening is a popular hobby. There is that set of population, however, where gardening compeltely supplements the family food supply. These people have hundreds of canning jars, lids, pans and the other equipment needed to can their harvest. Canning is absolutely essential to stretching the food budget. There is another way to preserve your harvest. Freezing it makes as much sense as canning. The difference is that with canning, once the process is complete and your harvest is all in cans on shelves, there is no electricity or applicances required to keep the food.

For those who have not had a garden because of lack of knowledge in canning or just fear of the process, start planning your garden now. Anytime of the year is a good time to start planning. Many gardeners plan years in advance.

What to freeze and how to freeze it can sometimes be as daunting as considering the process itself. Have no fear. Freezing is easy, equipment is minimal and results are outstanding. When you go grocery shopping, you will smile at yourself knowing you don’t have to buy that expensive frozen corn or bag of broccoli. Make your own vegetable mixes. California mix with carrots, broccoli and cauliflower. Mix vegetables with only those you like and not what the supermarket says is in mixed vegetables. The possibilities are endless.

This article cannot possibly include instructions on freezing every vegetable out there so instructions for freezing the most popular garden vegetables are contained here. One common thing that cannot be overlooked in all of the vegetables is to discard any bad spots you see. The two other things you must know before getting starting is what blanching is and what flash freezing is. Blanching is simply putting vegetables in boiling water for a few seconds or minutes then putting into ice water to preseve color and flavor. Flash freezing is placing items on a single layer on a tray in the freezer to partially freeze before packing into freezer bags or containers. This process allows you to use what you need from the bag without the whole bag clumping together.

Beans (green, wax, etc.)

Cut to the length you like with our without ends. Blanch in boiling water for 90 seconds. Cool in iced water for 1-2 minutes. Drain well. Flash freeze for 30 minutes. Place into plastic freezer bags, label and seal getting out all the air you can. Keeps for 6 months.

Broccoli

Wash well and cut into pieces or stalks. Blanch for 3 minutes in boiling water. Cool in iced water for 3 minutes. Drain well. Flash freeze for 30 minutes. Place into plastic freezer bags, label and seal getting out all the air you can. Keeps for 6 months.

Carrots

Wash and peel. Cut into pieces (slices work well). Blanch for 3 minutes in boiling water. Cool in iced water for 3 minutes. Drain well. Flash freeze for 30 minutes. Place into plastic freezer bags, label and seal getting out all the air you can. Keeps for 6 months.

Cauliflower

Divide into florets and wash. Blanch for 3 minutes in boiling water. Cool in iced water for 3 minutes. Drain well. Flash freeze for 30 minutes. Place into plastic freezer bags, label and seal getting out all the air you can. Keeps for 6 months.

Peas

Shell and wash. Blanch for 1 minute. Chill in ice water for 1 minutes. Drain well. Flash freeze for 30 minutes. Place into plastic freezer bags, label and seal getting out all the air you can. Keeps for 6 months.

Pepper (green, red, etc)

Cut into slices or strips removing seeds. Flash freeze for 30 minutes (no blanching necessary). Place into plastic freezer bags, label and seal getting out all the air you can. Keeps for 6 months.

Sweet Corn

Remove husks and silk. Cut top off of the cob. Wash. Blanch for 5-7 minutes. Chill in ice water for 5-7 minutes. Drain well. Wrap each cob in plasic wrap. Place cobs in freezer bags filling to as many as will fit or as many as you need for a meal, label and seal getting out all the air you can.

Alternatively, after blanching and cooling, cut corn off of the ears, flash freeze and then put into freezer bags. Either way, keeps for 6 months.

Conclusion:

Now that you have all of these vegetables available in your freezer whenever you need them, you will always be ready for a speedy meal at the end of a busy day. Additionally, you know the quality of your food, where it came from, how long it’s been in the freezer. More than that, the satisfaction of pulling out a bag of your own frozen vegetables provides you with the satisfaction of knowing you can do it yourself and not relying on the supermarket.

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