It’s the end of the growing season and all the last of the fair-weather garden need to be harvested. Freezing is one of the quickest and simplest food preservation methods – a great option for those of us short on time with lots to preserve. But it’s not just as simple as throwing your garden veggies in a bag in the freezer. Many vegetables need to be blanched first while most fruits do not need blanching.

October harvest of eggplants, green beans and pears. Veggies were later frozen.

Blanching will set the color on bright green vegetables and kill off any enzymes that may deteriorate the flavor of your veggies. The process is simple – just toss the vegetables into a pot of boiling water for a given period of time, then promptly remove them and plunge into cold water. That immediately stops them from cooking. Once cool, drain fully before freezing.

A few tips when freezing vegetables:

  • Clearly label and date the package. Write this in the same place on all your bags, so it’s easy to find when you have that chilly freezer door open later.
  • Spread the veggies on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer for a couple hours. Once fully frozen, transfer to a freezer bag. This allows the veggies to freeze individually, instead of as one large clump, which makes it easier to use just a little at a time.
  • Lay the bags flat when you freeze them, so they are easy to stack once frozen.

Flat, well-labeled bag of individually frozen broccoli

The following chart is a helpful guide on which vegetables need to be blanched prior to freezing and how long they need to be in boiling water. (Note that items marked as NA doesn’t mean you can’t freeze them – it just means I don’t like freezing them. In some cases it changes the texture or taste too much for my preference.)

 

Freezing vegetables is a fast, easy way to preserve the harvest. I am spending some late nights over the canning pot at this time of year, so anything fast and easy is a most welcome way to stretch our harvest. Are you freezing any goodies this year? Any tips of your own to share?

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