Freezing Foods 101

The berry harvest is coming in and you have more than you can possibly eat - what to do now?  Preserve it of course.  Freezing is one of the easiest, fasts and least equipment intensive preservation methods available.  All you need is space in the freezer.

I freeze all my strawberries and blueberries.  Wash, remove stems and allow to air dry.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper then spread the berries into one layer.  Place in the freezer for 6 hours or longer.  Then, working quickly, dump1-2 cups into plastic freezer bags.  Label with date and amount and place bags back into the freezer.  These will keep for 6-9 months or longer if you have a good freezer.

Strawberries go really well with rhubarb.  Wash and trim, then slice into 1/2 inch pieces. Follow the same instructions for the berries.  Imagine how impressed your friends will be when you bring a strawberry rhubarb pie to Christmas dinner.

Veggies like peas and green beans can be frozen too.  Shell peas/trim green beans.  Boil water in a large pot and place a steamer basket over.  Steam veggies for 2-3 minutes, then plunge into ice water.  Allow to air dry and follow instructions for freezing berries.  Don't forget to label.  These will keep for about 3 months.

Zucchini is a weed that over-produces all summer long.  But if you freeze it, you'll have it ready for bread, soups, meatloaf (I add a cup of shredded zucchini to my meatloaf) in the middle of winter.  Wash and trim zucchini.  Shred.  Scoop 1-2 cups into plastic freezer bags, label and put in freezer.  Keeps up to a year. When you thaw the zucchini, water will come out and you'll need to drain.

Acorn squash, butternut and pumpkin are great things to freeze.  Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Use a sharp knife to puncture each squash.  In a shallow baking dish, place the squash and fill with about 1 inch of water.  Roast in the oven for 2-3 hours or until soft.  Remove and allow to cool to room temperature.  Cut in half and remove seeds, then peel.  Cut flesh into 1 inch cubes.  Place 1 cup in freezer containers, label and freeze.  Keeps for 3-6 months.