Fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes, sweet peppers, corn, and okra are among my favorite veggies. Right now they are in plentiful supply, but come October those $1.25-larger-than-my-hand sweet red peppers shoot up to a whopping $3.99 each! Forget tomatoes in the fall and winter–they may be reasonably priced, but they lack any kind of flavor.
Take advantage of summer vegetables and fruit now while in season, and stock your freezer for fall and winter months. The savings will be substantial and, as for flavor, there is no comparison.
Don’t have a garden–or one that is supplying enough produce to freeze? Visit your local farmer’s market. I make a weekly trip to Jaemor Farms, north of Atlanta. Each week I choose one or two vegetables to purchase a bit more of for freezing.
* Use good freezer bags in sizes that fit your families’ serving size. Freezer bags do not have to be name brand, just make sure they seal well. I use zipper-sealed bags in quart and gallon sizes.
* Flatten filled freezer bags and stack in freezer–they will freeze flat and not take up lots of room. I only have a side-by-side fridge / freezer and can get plenty of stacked bags in with no wasted space.
* Anything will freeze. If you are unsure, freeze some this week and cook it next week to see how you like it. Can you believe even chopped onions will freeze!
* Wash, chop and spread out to dry. Allow to air dry several hours, then bag. I overheard an elderly lady at the farmer’s market say she goes ahead and breads and cooks the okra and then freezes it in serving-size baggies. She reheats in the microwave when she wants to serve okra–and she said it tastes fresh. Haven’t tried that yet this summer as we eat it as fast as it cooks!
*Cut from cob and place in a shallow baking dish with some water and cook at about 250 -300 degrees for about 30 minutes. My mom shared this idea with me as it is an easy way to blanch corn without standing over it and risking scorching on the stovetop. Remove from oven and allow to cool before bagging and freezing.
Wash tomatoes and place in a pot of boiling water for up to five minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Gently peel the tomato skin, remove seeds, and place in baggies. I use this for chilis, casseroles, and soups.
Freezing Sweet Peppers
* Wash, chop (removing seeds) and store in baggies. I like to dice some peppers, cut others into chunks and cut the rest into thin strips. I also bag red and green peppers together in serving sizes that are perfect for stir-fry.
* To freeze blueberries and blackberries: everyone I’ve talked with said to NOT wash the berries prior to freezing. Simply bag and freeze. Wash before using in muffins, fruit smoothies and other recipes. I went against the grain and washed them this year–I’ll let you know how it works out!
What are you freezing or canning this summer for fall and winter months?