Preserving vegetables from home
Easy and quick methods for freezing fresh vegetables.
Freezing the fresh bounties of Michigan is simple and quick and allows you to enjoy the fresh taste of summer all year long. When preserving producing by freezing, chemical changes that affect the quality or spoilage of foods are slowed down.
The first and most important step to freezing produce is selecting suitable foods. Immature or over-ripe food should be avoided because it will not produce a good quality product. Michigan State University Extension recommends choosing produce at their peak of freshness and freezing as soon as possible. If it is necessary to store food for a short time after harvesting, it should be placed in a cool, well-ventilated area or in the refrigerator.
Suggestions for freezing vegetables:
- Select fresh, tender vegetables because freezing will not improve quality.
- If vegetables cannot be frozen immediately, refrigerate them.
- Rinse and drain all vegetables before freezing. For vegetables with hard skins, a vegetable brush can be used to ensure cleanliness.
- Do not let vegetables soak in water.
Blanching is necessary for almost all vegetables. Make sure to follow researched-based recipes as blanching times vary for each vegetable. There are several options for blanching vegetables:
- Water blanching is immersing prepared vegetables in a blanching basket or metal strainer and placing in a large pot of rapidly boiling water. After submersion, wait for the water to return to a boil and begin counting blanching times as directed in recipe.
- Steam blanching is placing vegetables in a single layer basket and place in a pot of one to two inches of boiling water, cover and start counting time.
- Cool the water or steamed blanched vegetables in ice-cold water immediately after removal. Drain the produce well and pack into food grade containers.
- Raw tomatoes, fresh herbs, onions, peppers and celery do not require blanching before freezing.
MSU Extension recommends freezing foods as soon as they are packaged and sealed. Do not overload your freezer because it can slow down the freezing rate. Leave space between packages so air can circulate. Once packages have frozen, they can be moved closer together.