August 4, 2021
A bit about freezing foods
by Mona Jauhar RDN, LD
In an ideal world, most of the produce we consume would all be processed locally, unadulterated, fresh and sustainably grown. The truth however is far from that. With shortage of fresh food, we have become dependent on packaging and processing food. A simple way of processing food is to freeze the produce and consume it when desired. If done right, it can be a healthy way of eating. And guess what? It is good for the planet too! Since fresh food gone bad goes into waste, frozen food can be stored for months, taken in quantities needed. That can reduce food waste by an astonishing six times, according to research.
MASTER THE ART
You are savoring summer's bounty every day and you'd surely like to save some for later -- months later, but preventing spoilage before you can enjoy them is a huge challenge. Wasting less food is about keeping ingredients fresh, being creative with what you have, and getting to know your food, especially how it ages and how it is best stored. Here are some quick tips to prevent damage:
- The colder your freezer is, the better. The quicker produce freezes, the smaller the crystals—and the less damage they cause.
- In most cases blanching is absolutely essential for producing quality frozen vegetables. Blanching and shocking your vegetables before freezing them is a surefire way to prevent them from thawing into watery pulp and destroy microorganisms on the surfaces if any.
- Fruits and vegetables can be frozen if no mold, yeastiness, or slime has developed and they haven’t been left out of the refrigerator for more than six hours.
- Vegetables like zucchini, squash, eggplant, and tomatoes, which have a high water content, generally don’t hold their structure well. Try cooking it into a sauce first, then freezing.
- Fruit is too delicate to blanch. Simply spread out on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and freeze in a single layer. Once frozen, transfer to an airtight freezer bag.
- Eat your frozen produce within 3-6 months.
FREEZE THE BEST OF SUMMER
Unlike other fruits, berries don't ripen further once picked, so they are a great choice for freezing. Choose firm berries. They should be dry and left whole. Freeze in a single layer (not touching) on a lined baking sheet. Once frozen, transfer to a zip-top freezer bag.
Look for medium to large in size, sweet smell, orange-gold glow near the stem, plump with some yield when gently squeezed (no bruising, brown spots or wrinkled skin). If already ripe, refrigerate in a plastic bag unwashed. To further ripen, place upside down at room temperature. To freeze, slice and freeze in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet, about 4 hrs but no longer than a day (freezer burn!). Store in an air-tight freezer-safe container.
Choose very fresh, young, tender corn. Remove husks and silks, then cut kernels from cobs. Freeze in a single layer (not touching) on a lined baking sheet. Once frozen, transfer to a zip-top freezer bag.
Pick plump ones with some yield when gently squeezed, bright red color, bright green stems and leaves, sweet woody smell. Store at room temperature up to 2-3 days. To freeze, wash and remove stems. Tomatoes can be frozen in chunks, slices, pureed or left whole in an air-tight freezer-safe container or bag up to 8 months. To freeze peeled tomatoes, boil for 1 minute to make it easier to peel off the skin. Cut tomatoes and drain excess liquid before freezing. Roma tomatoes are best for freezing.
Pick ones with firm stems, bright green or purple spears, spears closed tightly. Trim the woody ends. Place spears upright with stems in a container with water and cover with a plastic bag. For freezing, trim the woody ends and cut into 1-inch pieces. Blanch your asparagus and quickly transferring to an ice bath. Let completely dry and freeze in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Store in an air-tight freezer-safe container or bag. Thicker asparagus freezes best.
Zucchini is not only one of the easiest vegetables to grow in a home garden, but it's also one of the most versatile ingredients that can be frozen for later use. Chop the zucchini into smaller pieces and—you guessed it—blanch. Leave the zucchini in the boiling water for three to four minutes before shocking in an ice bath. Drain, pat dry and transfer to a freezer bag in a single layer.