The Best Ways to Freeze Fresh Vegetables
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Vegetables are awesome while they are ripe and ready to be picked. Buying produce in season, then freezing it, is a great way to have nutritious and delicious veggies all year around, without spending a fortune. Check out these tips for freezing, and thawing, your greens!
Clean them First: If you have fresh green beans, carrots, or beets, make sure to skin, clean, trim, and peel if necessary before you freeze. They should be ready to cook when you put them away.
Hint: If you are peeling carrots and onions and trimming garlic and green beans for storage in bulk, save all of the scraps in a separate bag. You can drop it into the fridge or freezer, then when you are aching for some chicken soup, you can boil the extra bits for the cheapest vegetable stock you’ve ever made. Just dump them frozen into a pot of water with salt, boil for a few hours, then strain. Yum!
Remove the Air: Get as much of the air out of your veggie bags before plopping them into the freezer. They will last a lot longer and taste much better if there’s no air in the bag when frozen! If you freeze vegetables or meat often, you might like to consider investing in a vacuum sealer (this one is a great price). With a small initial investment, it can save you tons of money with bulk purchases and not having to throw away damaged food. Amazon has some great deals on Vacuum Sealers.
Blanch them First: Blanching vegetables before freezing in a must! Flash boil the vegetables for a few minutes in a blanching basket or a wire strainer in a pot of already boiling water. Let it sit in the boiling water for about a minute to four minutes, depending on the veggie. Plunge them into a bucket of cold water immediately, then dry, package and freeze. This blanching process helps to kill surface bacteria and helps to prevent loss of important nutrients while frozen.
Use Freezer Bags: Use only bags designed for the freezer. It will make a big difference!
Not Thawing: You can usually take the frozen veggies and dump them right into whatever you are cooking. The thawing process can make frozen vegetables lose texture.
Mark them Well: Make sure to mark your vegetable packets well; using permanent markers or freezer labels, put the type of veggie, the amount, and the date you froze them.
Quick Freeze: The freezing process should happen as quickly as possible, so make sure your veggies have ample room in the freezer, and no one opens the freezer while they are still freezing. The faster your vegetables freeze, the less nutrition, texture and flavor you lose!
Visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation for the best how to freeze guide ever!
Sources:http://lifehacker.com/5663590/how-to-freeze-and-thaw-your-food-the-right-way http://www.cookinglight.com/cooking-101/techniques/how-to-freeze-foods-00412000070351/ http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/freeze.html http://www.wikihow.com/Freeze-Food http://allrecipes.com/howto/freezing-foods-a-real-time-saver/