Monday, September 20, 2010

Safe Freezing Tips for Produce

Freezing produce is a great option, especially for small families. You can save big bucks! Check out these safe freezing tips. 

The Basics
  1. Use the freshest produce you can find, and freeze it as soon as you can -- the quicker the better.
  2. Make sure to wash and dry everything thoroughly. Remove pits and cut into uniform sized pieces.
  3. Use containers, freezer bags or a vacuum seal system -- and remember to leave headroom for expansion.
  4. Label with contents and date.
  5. When ready to use, defrost in the refrigerator.
Freezing Fruit
There are several approaches to freezing fruit: Packed in sugar, packed in a simple sugar syrup, or (my preference) naked. Many experts suggest that freezing with sugar helps to better preserve the flavor and texture of fruit. While once defrosted much of the sugar can be carefully rinsed off, but pure-and-simple still works wonderfully.
To pack in sugar you only need to gently combine the prepared fruit in sugar, let stand until the fruit begins to release their juices, then pack for freezing.
To make a simple sugar syrup, heat 3 cups of sugar with 4 cups of water over medium-high heat until sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Let cool and pour over prepared fruit to cover, and pack for freezing.
The best method for freezing fruit au natural is to prepare the fruit and spread out on cookie sheets to freeze. Once frozen, pack in freezer bags
Freezing Vegetables
Freezing vegetables is not quite as straightforward as fruit. Although just as easy, different vegetables respond to different methods; some do better cooked, some better raw.
There are several excellent websites that provide specific advice for different vegetables. Garden Guides has one of the most comprehensive guide to freezing vegetables.

Freezing Herbs
Drying herbs perhaps comes to mind before freezing them, but herbs do quite well when frozen. The most basic method involves removing the leaves from the stem, then rinsing and drying. Place the leaves on a tray in the freezer, and when frozen gather them in a freezer bag for easier storage.
Freezing pesto in ice cube trays and then popping the pesto cubes into a bag for easy dispersion is a handy and popular trick.

Sources: Care2 and Yahoo Green

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