Written by: Jackie Stevenson, BS, DTR
We’ve reached a point in the growing season where there are just too many veggies to eat. Personally, I have about ten zucchini and summer squash sitting on my counter right now, plus a shopping bag full of string beans and pea pods in the fridge. Not to mention the kale and lettuce is still going strong. With more on the way, there is just no feasible way to eat all of that before it goes bad. What’s a girl to do?
- Pawn them off on friends and neighbors.
- Preserve them.
You will soon exhaust your loved ones with excess veggies, leaving only one option. Preserve what you have. I purposely grow lots of veggies in order to preserve them for use in the off-season. It’s nice to have some reminder of summer in the dead of winter. It’s also a bonus to save some money on overpriced produce that’s been carted in from clear across the country.
The two best ways to preserve your harvest is to either freeze or can what you have. Freezing is a much simpler, time-effective solution, and will be the focus of this article. Follow up with us in the coming weeks for info on canning.
What vegetables are good to freeze?
String beans, Zucchini, Summer squash, Pea Pods, Eggplant, Kale, Spinach, Chard
How to freeze…
- Wash and cut your veggies into bite-size pieces.
- Set a pot next to stove with cold water and ice cubes.
- Bring another pot of water to a boil on the stove.
- Drop small batches of cut veggies into the water for 30-60 seconds. Leafy greens, like kale and spinach will need a max of 30 seconds, they just need to wilt. Heavier items like squash can go 30-60 seconds depending on how large the pieces are cut. The goal is only to lock in freshness, not to cook. Pieces should still be crisp when pulled out.
- Pull out with slotted spoon and drop into ice water to stop the cooking process.
- Drain well, then spread out onto cookie sheet. It’s ok if the pieces touch, don’t layer on top of each other. Cover with plastic wrap or foil.
- Store in freezer overnight.
- Once frozen, use spatula to scrape frozen veggies off of tray, store in freezer bags.
- Freeze immediately to avoid re-thaw!!
***Shortcut: Skip the cookie tray if you’re pressed for time. Freeze veggies in single serve bags to be used all at once. Keep in mind that veggies will freeze into a solid block, and will not be able to be split apart.
Problems with this method
There are two limitations to the freezing method. One, the bags are likely to get freezer burnt if stored for too long in the freezer. They will probably still keep for 3-6 months. A possible solution would be to use an airtight sealer (I have not tried). The second limitation is power. Having worked for a generator company in the past, I have a realistic appreciation for electricity. Unfortunately, if the power goes out for an extended period of time and your freezer is not backed up, you are likely to lose some of your harvest.
Canning your harvest instead can solve both of these problems. This method is more tedious and time-consuming, but you will get shelf-stable jars full of veggies that will not freezer-burn or go bad without power. Keep an eye on the blog in the next couple of weeks for help with canning.