Quick and Easy Tips for Freezing Fruits and Vegetables
Freezing fruits and vegetables can make sure you and your loved ones eat right all year long. Freezing is one of the simplest, easiest, and inexpensive ways to preserve fruits and vegetables. Freezing helps maintain the natural color, and flavor of produce while maintaining the vitamins and minerals.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when freezing. Go for quality when selecting fruits and vegetables. If it is not good going in the freezer, it will not getting any better (just colder)! Fruit and vegetables should be ripe but not soft.
Time matters, the quicker produce is frozen the better. Make sure you work in small batches (about two or three quarts) to help capture the freshness of the product. Select appropriate containers for freezing. There are a variety to choose from that include wide mouth jars, plastic containers, and freezer bags. It is also important to remove as much air from the containers before freezing, to prevent freezer burn. Do not over pack a freezer it will slow the freezing process, resulting in a “mushy” finished product.
Ascorbic acid will prevent fruit from darken and can be purchased in tablets, or powder form usually where canning supplies are available, be sure to follow the directions for use. Fruits can be packed a variety of ways, with syrup, a sugar, artificial sweeteners, or unsweetened. The packing method depends mainly on preferences and any special dietary needs. Proper packing can help the fruit maintain a pleasing texture and taste.
Vegetables need to be blanched prior to being frozen. This is critical and must be done. Green onions, hot peppers, and herbs are the only vegetables that do not require blanching. Blanching reduces the action of the enzymes which prevents vegetables from losing their flavor. Blanching when done properly can lock in vitamins, brighten the color, and reduce the levels of microorganisms.
It is critical the follow the blanching times in the recipes, because blanching time vary from vegetable to vegetable. Under blanching is worse than no blanching because it will actually stimulate the enzymes, while over blanching can destroy flavor, Vitamins, minerals and color. Most fruit and vegetables can be stored up to twelve months without significant loss of quality.
Tested, researched based recipes can be found:
- National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP) – an online resource for safe home food preservation information that includes recipes from the USDA’s Complete Guide to Home Canning — all research-tested by the University of Georgia.
- USDA’s Complete Guide to Home Canning – available online and in print, this guide provides research-tested recipes in addition to safe food preservation.
- So Easy to Preserve (UGA) – this book of research-tested recipes, many of which are also found on the NCHFP website.
- The Ball Blue Book, 100th Anniversary Edition (Jarden, 2009/2010) – research-tested recipes by the popular canning jar brand, Ball.
Take a time this summer so you and your family can enjoy the fruits of your garden all year long.