Why Freeze Food?
- It’s Easy: freezing is a time effective way to preserve many of the vegetables and fruits from each season. One can preserve a large amount of food with minimal prep involved.
- Preserves Flavor & Nutrients: freezing does a great job of preserving the flavor and nutrients, more so than drying or canning. To ensure a minimal loss of nutrients, follow these tips: 1) freeze as soon after harvest as possible; 2) steam blanch your vegetables as opposed to blanching in boiling water; 3) use the foods you have frozen earliest first.
What to Freeze
- Stand Alone Vegetables: items that are typically cooked before eating are those best suited to freezing. This includes broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel spouts, cabbage, peas, carrots, kohlrabi, beets, squash, sweet corn, spinach and other greens. Those vegetables that are typically eaten raw, such as cucumber, lettuce, and radishes, are not well suited to stand alone freezing (but keep in mind, they may work well in soups, sauces or purees).
- Stand Alone Fruit: almost all fruit freezes well and can be frozen without blanching first. Most fruit will suffer from some structural change, or softening, however I find the ease of freezing well worth the trade-off.
- Soups & Stews: these items are some of the best to freeze, not only because they can be easy to make, but because you have an entire meal just waiting to be thawed. Most soups and stews freeze well, especially those based on beans, grains, or meat. Pureed soups, such as butternut squash, also freeze very well. The few types you should avoid are dairy-based soups, those with seafood, cornstarch thickened soups and those with eggs or pasta.
- Sauces: sauces are such a great item to freeze as they don’t take up much space but can easily transform plain pasta or grains into a meal. Pureed sauces, such as tomato, work well in the freezer, as do oil based sauces, such as pesto. A ragu, whether meat or mushroom based, work well as they are made with enough of a liquid base to protect the other items well. There is also the peanut/sesame sauce category that works so well with Asian and Indian inspired dishes.
- Purees: I distinguish purees from sauces as those items that don’t have any other ingredients added. This would include greens or fruit (or a combination of the two) pureed with water. I don’t think of these items as those I would base a meal off of, but as something that could be added to a smoothie or soup.
- Baked Goods: other than delicate baked goods, such as meringues or cream pies, most baked goods freeze really well. I love making a big batch of muffins, quick breads, cookies and waffles and freezing some to enjoy later.
- Compound Butter: start with room temperature butter and add flavoring of choice. Check out my compound butter post for flavor ideas!
How to Freeze
- Stand Alone Vegetables: you need to understand blanching in order to properly freeze vegetables. Check out my steam blanching post for more details!
- Stand Alone Fruit: