Although we don’t have a garden this year, we have had our fair share of fresh vegetables and fruit. I think the folks at the Farmers Market are beginning to recognize us. Going to the market to get inspired by the variety of fresh fruit and veggies has become one of Doug and my favorite weekend destinations. While it is wonderful to use all the fresh produce right away there are simple ways to preserve the vegetables for use later in the fall or winter.
Stocking the Freezer for the long Winter months is also a great way to stretch our grocery budget and provide the family with nutritious and tasty meals even during the long winter.
We recently prepared Zucchini, Sweet Corn and Blueberries for the freezer and wanted to share with you how we do it. This isn’t rocket science but there are some processes that you must do to ensure that your hard work doesn’t get wasted. There are several publications available to help you with the processing of your produce. I thought I would impart some advice from personal experience.
Zucchini is probably the easiest vegetable to prepare to freeze and you can use those overgrown zucchini, you know the ones that got away from you during your vacation or even the hidden one you didn’t see until it was 4 inches around. Don’t throw them away, freeze them.
As with all produce you’ll need to wash them first, then we hand grate the old fashion way. You can certainly use a food processor for this but we feel the zucchini freezes better if it is a little larger grate than you can get using the processor. So grate, grate, grate and place the zucchini in a colander as you grate it to allow it to drain prior to placing in freezer bags. One of our favorite recipes requires 2 cups of grated zucchini so to make it easier we measure it out and freeze that amount in each bag.
We love this Zucchini Bread, and have actually found it’s best to use the zucchini grated from the freezer rather than bake the bread and freeze it.
Freezing Sweet Corn
Freezing Sweet Corn involves a few additional steps to ensure you maintain the quality when you freeze it. Specifically after you have shucked and cleaned the corn you’ll want to blanch it, blanching is simply partially cooking the corn (you also do this with other vegetable like green beans and asparagus). Be sure that after you blanch the corn pull it from the pot and immediately place in an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Once the corn has cooled cut the kernels from the cob, don’t cut into the cob only go about 2/3 the depth of the kernel and place in freezer bags and freeze.
For more information on this check out this publication from the University of Illinois Extension Service.
We will use the Sweet Corn in soups and casseroles as well as serving as a side dish.
This Pampered Chef Corn Kernel Cutting Tool is the easiest and quickest way we have found to cut corn off the cob. Even our youngest son can use the tool.
On a recent trip to the Farmers Market, we came across a new Blueberry Patch. We didn’t have time to pick, but we were able to buy a 10 pound box and freeze them for later.
Blueberries are the easiest fruit to freeze, it really is a quick 3 step process. Wash and drain the blueberries and remove any damaged berries, place in a single layer on a cookie sheet and flash freeze for 3-4 hours. Once completely frozen measure out the amount you desire for your needs and place in individual freezer bags. Simple, right!
Warm Blueberry Muffins are a hit on cold Sunday mornings, they warm your insides when it’s freezing outside.
Are you freezing vegetable or fruit for the winter? Do you have any tricks or advice to pass along?