A bit of green has started to poke its head up from the soil in my garden. And it is not just weeds! Summer harvest time will be here soon. Sometimes a garden produces more vegetables than a family can use at once. Other times, you might buy more at the grocery store than you can use up. Or maybe the grocery store was having a big sale on produce and you want to buy as much as you can at the low price. Whatever the case, freezing vegetables is a great way to preserve them for later use, so your hard work and your money do not go to waste.
There are four simple steps to get vegetables freezer ready:
- Select fresh, tender vegetables. The fresher you can get them, the better they’ll be when it comes time to thaw.
- Wash veggies well, in cool water. Peel, trim, and cut to your desired size.
- It is a good idea to blanch your veggies before you freeze them. Blanching helps preserve flavor and color and makes it easier to pack your veggies. Click here to read about the different methods of blanching.
- Place your veggie pieces in freezer containers or bags. Pack them as tight as you can and press any extra air out before you seal. It is good practice to leave about 1/2 inch of space at the top of your container to allow room for the veggies to expand as they freeze. Don’t forget to label and date each container. Most veggies will last in the freezer for up to twelve months.
And that’s it! Select, prep, blanch, and pack – four simple steps. There are different recommendations on cutting style, size, and blanching for each vegetable. The National Center For Home Food Preservation can provide you with the details for each vegetable. Click here to find them.
One of my favorite ways to freeze veggies is to make meal packets. My family loves chili. So I freeze onions, jalapeños, bell peppers, and corn all together in one bag. When I’m ready to make chili, I thaw the veggies and they are ready to be added to my recipe.
Some other meal packets you might try are:
- Onions, cabbage, and celery for Cabbage Patch Stew
- Broccoli, carrots, peas, and green onions for Fried Rice
- Onions, celery, and bell pepper for Chicken Creole
- Carrots, zucchini, and corn for Mexistrone Soup
Sometimes recipes call for different vegetables to be added in at different times. It seems like freezing the vegetables all together will create a problem because you would need to sort them before adding them to your dish. A great workaround for this problem is to use multiple freezer bags and store them together. For example, Fried Rice instructs you to add the carrots and broccoli first and later add in the peas an onions. Freeze the carrots and broccoli in one bag and freeze the onions and peas in another bag. Store the two bags together and label your packet for Fried Rice. Your meal packet will be ready to go, but the preparation process will remain simple.
Prep your meal packets and when you’re ready, give my favorite chili recipe a try. Enjoy!
Click on the recipe card for a printable version.
Certified Nutrition Education Assistant