Preserving vegetables from home
Easy and quick methods for freezing fresh vegetables.
Freezing the fresh bounties of Michigan is simple and quick. Freezing involves slowing down the chemical changes that affect the quality or spoilage of foods. Selection of suitable foods to freeze is very important because immature or over-ripe food will not produce a good quality product. It is recommended to choose produce at their peak freshness and freeze as soon as possible. If it is necessary to store food for a short time after harvesting, place in a cool, well ventilated place or in the refrigerator.
Suggestions for freezing vegetables:
- Select fresh, tender vegetables. Freezing will not improve quality.
- If vegetables cannot be frozen immediately, refrigerate them.
- Rinse and drain vegetables, a vegetable brush can be used on vegetables with solid skins.
- 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. Wait for the water to return to a boil and start counting blanching times as directed in recipe.
- Steam blanching is placing vegetables in a single layer basket and placing 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, drain well and pack into food grade containers.
- Raw tomatoes, fresh herbs, green onions and peppers do not require blanching before freezing.
Michigan State University Extension recommends freezing foods as soon as they are packaged and sealed. Do not overload your freezer with unfrozen food. Overloading slows down the freezing rate. Leave space between packages so air can circulate, when packages have frozen they can be moved closer together.
For further information on freezing vegetables and other food preservation methods visit the MSU Extension Online Home Food Preservation page.