Summertime means an abundance of plump tomatoes, fragrant melons, snappy beans, and other delicious, fresh produce. But sometimes we don’t get around to using it all, and watching your delicious haul go wilty, slimy, and soft in the back of your crisper drawer is the ultimate bummer. That’s where the freezer comes in!
First, let’s start with some important definitions:
Cookie Sheet Method™ : It’s not actually trademarked, but it is the key to preventing fruit and veg from clumping into unmanageable pieces in your freezer! Freeze small pieces of produce in a single layer on a rimmed cookie sheet. Once the produce is frozen, transport to a freezer bag or reusable container.
Blanching: A cooking process where fruits and/or vegetables are scalded briefly in boiling water, then plunged into ice water to stop the cooking process. This helps produce to maintain bright flavors, color, and texture through the freezing process.
- Blanch most veggies
- Remove pits from all stone fruit (cherries, plums, etc)
- Slice large produce into manageable pieces
- Remove as much air as possible from freezer bags and pack reusable containers to the top
- Don’t forget to write a date on all items
Freezing Common Summer Produce:
Herbs: Tender herbs like basil, chives, and mint don’t freeze well. Try mincing herbs and then freeze packed tightly into ice cube trays with a small amount of olive oil or water. Transport to bags once frozen through.
Berries: Stock up during the summer when berries are less expensive, higher in vitamin C, and more flavorful! Use the Cookie Sheet Method.
Peaches, Plums, and Cherries: Remove pits first and slice into bite-sized pieces. Use the cookie sheet method. If you prefer fuzz-peaches, blanch and peel first.
Zucchini: What to do with all that zucchini? Quickly blanch and use the Cookie Sheet Method. Zucchini has high water content, making it slightly mushy once thawed, so use it in recipes like lasagna or pureed into a sauce. Or, grate and freeze flat in bags to make zucchini bread!
Green Beans: Trim and cut beans to desired size, then blanch and use the Cookie Sheet Method.
Tomatoes: Blanched and peeled tomatoes can be frozen and used in recipes later. However, tomatoes tend to freeze best when already cooked into something like sauce or soup.
Melon: Cube and use Cookie Sheet Method. Melon does not thaw well for snacking purposes, but can be used in recipes.