The taste of summer can be enjoyed all year long
It’s hard to resist picking up armloads of local fruits and vegetables as they arrive on the market. They’re inexpensive and delicious. But then you realize you have more food than you can easily utilize in the coming days. No worries! Your trusty home freezer can quickly come to your rescue. Use the extra for those days when time is not on your side or for when the local season is a distant memory. Here are some tried-and-true recipes to get you started. Feel the chill now and reap the rewards later!
Note: Use the first in, first out rule in the freezer, and don’t trust your memory! Label and date each food package.
Pick Tennessee Products is a promotion of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture developed to help consumers recognize and choose foods grown or processed in Tennessee. As Pick Tennessee Products spokesperson, Tammy Algood develops recipes featuring Tennessee food products. To learn more about Tennessee food products and to find more recipes, go to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Market Development website at www.PickTnProducts.org or contact Algood at 615-837-5160 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Invest in a thermometer made especially for the freezer, and check it regularly. The temperature should be at zero degrees.
- Don’t count on your memory! Always label and date items you are placing in the freezer.
- Use the “first in, first out” rule when it comes to utilizing what you have in the freezer. This becomes easier if you place newer items in the back and pull older items to the front.
- Freezer containers are designed for low temperatures. Use heavy-duty freezer zip-top bags, freezer paper and approved freezer containers that keep moisture out. Bags and freezer paper are simple to write on with a permanent marker, which should be done on the bags before filling. Use freezer labels for containers.
- Do not place hot or warm food items in the freezer. Cool them to room temperature first so you don’t raise the temperature of the freezer when adding them to your appliance.
- Remember that many foods such as soups and stews expand when frozen. Leave at least 1/4 inch of headspace, with 1/2 inch being best. This is especially important when using freezer containers.
- For the best results and to be on the safe side, thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator rather than on the kitchen counter.
This process of plunging foods into boiling water for a certain amount of time, then repeating it in ice cold water to stop the cooking process, is essential for vegetables. It stops microbial growth, brightens the color and helps prevent the loss of nutrients.
Bring one gallon of water to a full rolling boil for every pound of vegetables you are blanching at one time. Keep the heat on high. Lower the basket into the water and start timing as soon as the water returns to a boil, which should be within 1 minute (see blanching times at right).
Drain the vegetables and plunge the basket immediately into ice-cold water. Cooling time is the same as the blanching time. Drain, and the vegetables are ready to pack and freeze.
Small stalks = 2 minutes
Medium stalks = 3 minutes
Large stalks = 4 minutes
Beans (snap, green or wax)
Beans (medium lima, butter or pinto)
Corn on the cob
Small ears = 7 minutes
Medium ears = 9 minutes
Large ears = 11 minutes
Greens (all except collards)
Peas (field, crowder, black-eyes, purple hull)