It is that time of the year when the weather starts to get a lot colder and snow will eventually begin to fall onto the ground. Practicing a little bit of cocooning and staying in your cozy home suddenly isn’t such a bad idea. However, we all have to eat and let’s be honest, no one really likes to go grocery shopping, especially in the winter. So when summer gives you an abundance of fruits and vegetables why not stock up and enjoy them throughout the entire year?
Freezing is quite simple and you do not need a lot of equipment to get started, just a freezer and containers to freeze your items in. For advice on what containers you should use, check out this article from the Kitchn. No matter what container you use, you need to be aware that food expands when it is frozen so make sure to leave ample room for this expansion to happen.
Allrecipes.com wants to make sure you are aware of what happens to frozen fruits and vegetables so that you can take all the necessary precautions to avoid the ‘mushy factor’.
We all know that water expands when frozen, so the water in the fruits and veggies expands, which causes ice crystals to puncture and break cell walls. So when some of the fruits and vegetables thaw completely they tend to get mushy and are not necessarily the most appetizing.
Here are a few tips that you need to keep in mind before you begin freezing your fruits and vegetables.
- Make sure to freeze the fruits and vegetables when they are at their peak of freshness.
- Freeze all fruits and vegetables quickly to reduce the amount of cellular damage.
- Fruits and vegetables freeze best at -20oC or colder because colder temperatures produce smaller ice crystals.
- You can store fruits for approximately 12 months and store vegetables for approximately 18 months.
Tips on Freezing Fruits
- Wash all the fruits and make sure to pick out the damaged pieces before freezing.
- Many fruits will darken once they are cut so you will need to prevent this oxidation process from happening by using an anti-darkening agent.
- Which fruits? Fruits such as apples, apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches, pears and plums.
- You can make a homemade anti-darkening agent by combining fresh squeezed lemon juice, bottled lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to a ratio of 1 tablespoon per 1 quart of water. However, there are also commercial products that are available that can be just as effective.
- Some fruits do their best in a sugar syrup to help retain colours and to enhance the taste.
- Which fruits? Fruits such as peaches, nectarines, and grapes
- You can do 1 or 2 things; either add sugar directly to the fruit or you can mix sugar with water to form a syrup that can be poured over the fruit.
- Here is a light syrup recipe: boil together 2 cups of sugar with 4 cups of water. Make sure that you let the syrup cool before you use it.
- Delicate berries like strawberries and raspberries can be a pain, because when you put them into a container they tend to become mushy before they even get into the freezer. Allrecipes shares a very cool life hack to help combat this, so don’t forget to check it out.
Tips on Freezing Vegetables
- Wash all vegetables and drain them.
- Sort the vegetables so that you can cut and trim them and as you are doing this, make sure to remove any damaged pieces.
- Before you freeze your vegetables you first need to blanch them. Blanching prevents enzymes from damaging colour, flavour, and nutrients but it also destroys any microorganisms that might be on the surface of the vegetables.
- Put the vegetables into boiling water briefly for 1 – 2 minutes.
- Take them out and quickly submerge them into cold water (15°C or below) for 1 – 2 minutes. Make sure to stir the vegetables several times while cooling.
- You might want to purchase a metal strainer for ease of lowering the vegetables into the boiling water and removing them quickly.
- Once you have removed them from the cold water make sure to drain the vegetables thoroughly and dry them using paper towel.
- The best vegetables to freeze are those with low-acid, such as bell peppers, cauliflower, peas, onions, squash, and zucchini. However, those vegetables with a higher pH level, such as artichokes, spinach, pumpkins, cabbage and celery, can also be frozen.
- Make sure when you are packing your vegetables that they are snug in the container to avoid air contact. Keep moisture inside the package the air outside the package.
Freezing fresh fruits and vegetables is a great way of preserving your summer harvest, so make sure you follow these simple steps to ensure optimal results.
To find a BrandSource retailer close to you that sells a selection of freezers, click here.
Isabelle Osmar, Your Appliance Expert