Come September, Minnesotans don’t usually like to talk about freezing — unless we’re talking about thawing brats or making ice for another cool beverage in the back yard. But late summer and early fall is the season to gather and preserve fresh produce items for the upcoming wintry months. Below you’ll learn the best veggies and fruits to freeze so you can assemble a delicious stash for winter. For simplicity and speed, it’s tough to beat freezing for preserving the local harvest. Plus, you probably already have all the tools you need to get started — just stop by the co-op and pick up your produce.
Most vegetables will need to be blanched before freezing to cleanse the surface of dirt and organisms and stop the enzymes that reduce flavor. Follow the recommended blanching times from the National Center of Food Preservation on the right (image is below). Shave blanched sweet corn at its prime into freezer bags to use for the perfect side dish this Thanksgiving. Freeze tomatoes whole, separated from one another on a cookie sheet. Come New Year’s Eve or Super Bowl Sunday, when you’re ready to make a very special salsa or chili, thaw, slide the skins right off and prep, as needed.
It may be tempting to simply leave fruit as is and freeze, but the best practice is to prep the fruit for how you intend to use it. Otherwise you could end up with a solid undistinguishable fruit brick. Begin by washing and drying the fruit. Once apples and pears are peeled and cored, pits are removed from stone fruits, strawberries are hulled, and the rinds are removed from melons freeze in a single layer on a baking sheet. For later use in Thanksgiving pies, chunks or wedges work best. A rough chop for back-to-school smoothies is great. When the fresh fruit season seems too far away, you’ll be thankful for the frozen summer fruit morsels tucked away in the freezer.
How to $ave
Did you know we offer discounts on case quantities ordered in advance — 10 percent off for owners and 5 percent off for non-owners. Another tip for saving money on bulk purchases is to stock up on sale items. Some of the best deals are on Fridays during #FarmFreshFridays, when three to five produce items are on sale for 25 percent off. Follow us on social media for #FarmFreshFridays deals.
- Start with the freshest produce possible.
- Portion vegetables into individual portions and store in a larger bag so you can just grab what you need when you need it.
- To freeze herbs, either blend in olive oil or place in water and freeze in ice cube trays.
- Build your own smoothie pack recipe for the perfect back-to-school breakfast: 2–3 cups fruit, 1 cup greens (optional). Add 1 cup of liquid (water, coconut water, juice, milk) then blend.
- Work fast, as defrosted fruit will stick together once frozen resulting in a giant ice block.
- Boost your smoothie’s nutrition by adding chia or flax seeds.
- Freeze yogurt in ice cube trays to add to smoothie packs.