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Tips for Freezing the Harvest

I love preserving the harvest of vegetables I get every year from neighboring farms. The produce is fresh and lasts a lot longer than the grocery store. Prices are higher than the store in peak season, but I am supporting our local farms because I want them to be there for me next year.

I have collected a few tips over the years of processing and find them to be my go-to resources for keeping my vegetables fresh tasting and delicious.

Divide up the food into individual servings.

This is smart for a couple of reasons. First, it means the food will thaw and reheat faster and more evenly. Second, it'll help with portion control! You're basically making DIY frozen meals, snacks, and desserts for one. So great for meal planning in the winter when you are trying to save money. Always let the food cool to room temp before you freeze it. If you put hot or warm food in the freezer, it could increase the freezer's temperature and partially thaw the foods around it. Not good. So always let the food cool completely before you put it in the freezer. By the way, portioning out those single servings will help it cool faster.

Wrap it up. The better you wrap your food, the longer it'll last, and the fresher it'll taste. Plus, wrapping food keeps the freezer burn at bay. For handheld items, securely wrap each one in plastic wrap; then transfer them to a sealable plastic bag or freezer-safe container, remove as much air as possible, and seal. For everything else, use a freezer-safe sealable container; if you plan on using the microwave to reheat the food, make sure it's also microwave safe. Pick one that's a little larger than the food itself; food can expand when it freezes and can bubble up when it's reheated.

Freeze blueberries right in their containers and thaw when needed. They are magic! When it's time to thaw, you've got a couple of options. Your best bet is to transfer the food to the fridge the night before you plan to eat it. Then just reheat it once you're ready to eat. But if you want to eat it ASAP, use the thaw setting on your microwave; remove any plastic wrap first, and make sure the container is microwave safe! For meals and soups (anything not handheld), vent the lid.

What to freeze

Meat, poultry, fish, baked goods, soups, and stews all freeze really well. Meatloaves, casseroles, and burger patties work too. What not to freeze

Unfortunately, veggies with high water content (like spaghetti squash and zucchini) don't freeze or reheat well. But don't rule out cauliflower rice -- it freezes great!

But, if you shred zucchini and freeze it, it works beautifully in soups that will get pureed when finished. Pumpkins also freeze well whole, just thaw them and scrape the meat out of them and bake.


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