Who knew that plastic freezer bags were the secret to holding on to the last, luscious flavors of summer? As the season fades and temperatures drop, you can stash a burst of summer flavor away now to brighten up a winter meal later, by freezing fresh fruits and veggies. Freezing will give you the wonderful flavors of the produce, but the texture will change slightly so plan to use your defrosted fruits and veggies in recipes where they’ll be cooked or processed, not used whole or raw.
How to Freeze Summer Produce
Whether fruit or veggie, a good rinse is the first step in freezing, followed by a thorough pat-down with paper towels to dry them. Place dry berries on a sheet tray and pop the tray in the freezer until they’re frozen solid. Transfer the frozen berries into plastic freezer bags, label them and back into the freezer they go. Defrost your berries overnight in the fridge and they’ll be ready to add to your sauce, pie, smoothie, puree or sorbet recipes.
Veggies require the extra step of blanching before freezing. Drain your blanched veggies, shock them in an ice water bath to cool them, pat them dry and place them on a sheet tray. Pop the sheet tray into the freezer until the veggies are frozen solid, then transfer them into plastic freezer bags. As usual, tomatoes blur the line between fruit and vegetable. Like berries and other fruits, they don’t require blanching before freezing. Cherry, grape and teardrop tomatoes can be frozen just like berries. For larger tomatoes, simply rinse them and cut out the core before freezing.
Keep in mind that produce containing a lot of water — think cucumbers, melons, lettuces and celery — aren’t the best candidates for freezing. The high water content will leave them soft, mushy and limp when defrosted.
Need ideas for using your frozen berries? How about this Acai-Berry Sorbet?