We love to garden. In Arizona, we get started early. February and March for the spring gardening season.
Most of our garden is done. We have planted cucumbers, peppers, radishes, tomatoes, beans, zucchini, carrots. That is a decent start. We also will have our melons, strawberries, and several fruit trees.
We are trying to be as self-sufficient as we can; its important to know what to do with these vegetables. We always give some away, but how nice would it be to enjoy colorful fresh vegetables and fruits after the season has ended. That’s the goal this year.
Here is our step by step process.
- Blanch and shock vegetables first. Simply boil them quickly, drain, then immediately put into ice water. Dry thoroughly. This helps retain their beautiful color
- It is easiest to Freeze fruits and vegetables by placing on a cookie sheet.
- When completely frozen, store in freezer bags. Be sure to date the packages. (We use our Vaccum sealer machine. It’s worth the investment if you don’t have one). Be sure to label and date each bag with a permanent marker.
- Fill bags to the top and remove as much air as possible from freezer bags.
- Vegetables that hold up well to cooking (corn, peas, etc.) generally freeze.
- Always use frozen fruit before its thawed. This helps the texture.
- All fruits and veggies freeze best at zero-degrees F or colder.
- You can store frozen fruits for about a year, vegetables about 18 months to a year. My rule of thumb is to use it before the next harvest.
Vegetable that do not need blanching
There are not many. Blanching keeps the color and the crunch of the frozen crop. But these you can skip the process.
Spinach freezes well, and you can skip the blanching. It just doesn’t last as long as the other vegetables. Consider what you will use the spinach for. A couple of months is all I would freeze them for. The best way to use frozen spinach is for protein shakes, smoothies, or even a spinach dip.
Just like spinach, kale can freeze without blanching. If you have a choice, choose baby kale. We like to make small mixes of kale and spinach, add a couple of berries, and there is our protein shake mix. Very easy and great, especially in the summer.
Although you can freeze most vegetables, the ones with high water content just don’t freeze as well as others. When thawed, they become mushy due to that water content.
Have any gardening ideas to share?
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