Living Well: 11 Secrets To Properly Freezing Produce

May 29, 2013

How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom

This summer inspiration is brought to you by Target. Find more fun and surprises all season long on Target’s #SummerUp Pinterest board

Images and text by Lindsey Johnson for Design Mom.

When I was a little girl, I loved going to my Grandma Maxie’s house. There was always something yummy to eat, especially during the summer when her garden was brimming with strawberries, rhubarb, peaches, and all sorts of veggies. I used to pass by the giant (ancient) freezer on my way through the garage to the backyard and I would stop, open it, and gaze at the stacks and stacks of square freezer containers with green or yellow lids. Each had tape around it and was labeled with the contents. My favorite, no surprise, was her strawberry and raspberry freezer jam.

How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design MomHow to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom

Now that I’m a mom, I enjoy taking my kids to local pick-your-own farms to pick fruits and vegetables. Along with the harvest from our garden and stops at roadside stands and farmers markets, we end up with a lot of summer fruit and vegetables that we want to preserve and enjoy throughout the year, not just during the summer. While I really enjoy canning now and again, I’ve really been channeling my grandmother the past few years and taken freezing food to a new level.

How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design MomHow to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design MomHow to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom

There’s a reason for that. I find that some things are quicker to preserve when freezing, like berries. And other produce is fresher tasting and the quality is a bit better when freezing instead of canning. Plus, confession: I just don’t like canned veggies all that much. So, freezing it is!

How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design MomHow to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom

Remember last summer when we covered the basics of washing and storing produce? Consider this the companion to that post.

As with canning, freezing produce requires a little bit of planning and gathering the proper equipment. While canning relies on heat to kill microbes, which then also destroys some of the nutritional value, freezing delays the growth of bacteria and slows the work of enzymes, which keeps the food preserved. That’s not to say that frozen food isn’t as safe as canned food. It’s just a different way to do it.

How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design MomHow to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design MomHow to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom

A big plus for freezing produce is that it ends up tasting much fresher and contains more nutrients than canned produce.

But there is a draw back as well. The texture of thawed veggies and fruit can be undesirable. In the process of freezing, the water within the fruits and veggies turns to ice. As it does, it expands which causes cell walls to burst. This can equal mushy texture when thawed.

But there are steps you can take to ensure higher quality frozen fruits and veggies — similar to the ones you buy at the grocery store. And we’ll cover those below.

How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design MomHow to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom

First let’s talk about the materials you’ll need to assemble before you start.

How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom

GATHER MATERIALS

Secret #1: Something great thing about freezing fruits and vegetables is that you don’t really need fancy equipment. Freezer bags come in handy for “dry pack” freezing that doesn’t involve using syrups or purees. Rigid plastic (and sometimes glass) containers and jars come in handy for liquid or semi-solid foods, sauces, jams, and other preserves.

I stocked up on both sorts of containers (including some pretty awesome jars for freezer jam) and plastic freezer bags at Target.

How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom

In addition to containers, I also recommend freezer paper, freezer tape, and heavy-duty foil. They come in handy for packaging certain foods and for long-term storage. Long term means longer than the typical 6-12 months. The longer you store the food in the freezer, the more the quality declines, but it is still perfectly fine to eat.

Another essential for me is a rimmed baking sheet. I use it to quickly freeze individual pieces of whole or sliced produce. More on that in a bit.

Again, I found all the materials I needed for this post — from bowls, to markers, to baking sheets — at Target.

How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom

PREPARE THE FOOD

You’ll want to wash all fruits and vegetables well, especially if you don’t plan on peeling them, and pat them dry with a paper towel or dishtowel. Some fruits and vegetables can be frozen whole, while others need to be peeled, pitted, and/or cut into smaller pieces. A bit of it is personal preference, but some produce definitely does better in the freezer when cut into smaller pieces.

How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom

Secret #2: Fruits and veggies that do exceptionally well frozen whole:
Berries (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, currants, cranberries, etc.), bananas, chili peppers, beans, asparagus, tomatoes, and corn.

How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom

Secret #3: Produce that does well sliced or diced:
Bell peppers, avocado, mango, pineapple, melon, peas, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, stone fruits (peaches, nectarines, plums, cherries), apples (yes, you can freeze apples!), summer squash, and winter squash.

How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom

Cut broccoli and cauliflower into florets. Shell peas, trim the ends of green beans and asparagus. Dice or slice peeled carrots, squash, brussels sprouts, and large leaves of spinach, chard, and kale. Rhubarb should be trimmed of woody ends and diced.

How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom

Potatoes can be frozen, but benefit from being shredded. Think: hashbrowns. (Note: I personally don’t like freezing potatoes at home. The quality just isn’t as good.) Zucchini is another veggie with a high water content. It can be sliced or diced and frozen, but I prefer shredding it instead.

How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom

Corn and bananas are pretty versatile when it comes to freezing. Corn can be frozen whole or cut from the cob.  It’s totally up to you!  I think it’s one of the best veggies for freezing because the quality isn’t as affected by the cold temperatures.

How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom

Bananas can be frozen whole and unpeeled, or peeled and whole, or peeled and cut. They’re pretty fabulous that way! I can’t resist adding a frozen banana to my daily smoothie to sweeten it up without adding sugar.

How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design MomHow to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom

After fruits and veggies have been peeled, sliced and diced, as needed, there are a few more preparation steps.

Secret #4: Most vegetables also need to be blanched before freezing. Blanching is nothing more than plunging vegetables into a pot of boiling water, letting them cook briefly (3-4 minutes max), and transferring them to a big bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.

Why is this important? Remember that mushiness I mentioned earlier? This will help with that, but it also helps maintain the color and nutrients, as well as killing any surface organisms that could lead to spoilage.

Corn (though you could), tomatoes, onions, potatoes (including sweet), and winter squash don’t need to be blanched. And neither do fruits.

How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design MomHow to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom

Leafy greens don’t have to be cooked, but they can be. But one thing is for sure, quickly sauteing spinach, for instance, really saves on space! Pictured above is four ounces of spinach cooked and fresh.

How to: Pureed Spinach Cubes for Green Smoothies

Something I saw a few months ago (and a few of you lovely readers mentioned to me) that I think is brilliant, is making spinach ice cubes to add to smoothies. I usually just put the greens into my smoothie packs, but I finally tried this and I’m hooked! Simply add a whole bunch of leafy greens to a blender with enough water to make a smooth puree and freeze. Easy peasy!

I also like to roast some foods before I freeze them. I’ve done this with tomatillos, plums, tomatoes, and peppers. I will either puree them into a sauce or freeze them as is, juices and all.

How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom

Secret #5: In canning, foods are treated with citric acid, lemon juice, or ascorbic acid to help kill microorganisms and prevent discoloration. The same rings true with freezing. Think of all of your favorite fruits that turn brown after being cut — bananas, avocado, peaches and nectarines, apples, etc.  They benefit from a quick dip into acidulated water.

How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom

Make a solution of 1/2 teaspoon ascorbic acid (found in the pharmacy or canning section of grocery stores) per 3 Tablespoons of water, or 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice in 4 cups (1 quart) water. Sprinkle or dip the fruit with the solution and let dry.

How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom

FREEZING

First up, Dry Pack freezing, where we start by talking about IQF, or Individually Quick Frozen. The idea behind this is simple: if a fruit/veggie is frozen in a single layer (whole or sliced), it will freeze more quickly. Secret #6: Freezing quickly is great because a) fruits and veggies are easy to thaw out if they aren’t frozen together in a big lump, and b) the quality is better after thawing.

How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom

All you do is place everything you want to freeze in a single layer on a lined baking sheet. Lined, so that what you’re freezing doesn’t stick to the pan.

The goal is to freeze the food as quickly as possible. Adjusting the temperature of the freezer ahead of time is a good idea. You want to ensure that it’s as cold as possible — at least 0 degrees F or lower. You also want to make sure there is plenty of air circulation for even freezing, so it’s better not to layer a bunch of bags or containers in the freezer at once. Doing it over the course of a day or a few days is a good idea.

Be sure to not open the freezer as the produce is freezing on the baking sheets. You really want them to freeze as quickly as possible without fluctuating temperatures. When the food is frozen, transfer to containers or bags and place the bags back in the freezer.

Removing air from containers and bags will help keep frozen food last that much longer and help prevent hoar frost from forming.

How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom

Secret #7: Another option is Wet Pack freezing, or freezing fruit in a sugar syrup. The recipe for the syrup is the same as you’d use when canning. All of the steps are the same as with canning, except no cooking needed. It’s so easy to do!

How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom

Of course I can’t talk about freezing produce without talking about freezer jam. In the winter months, it’s really wonderful to pull out a jar or container of freezer jam made from summer fruit. We really enjoy making jam at our house and it is another great way to enjoy frozen fruit.

I also freeze fruit and vegetable purees (including baby food when my kids were tiny), soups, sauces and other condiments, like fresh salsa.

How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom

LABELING & STORING

Secret #8: You’ll want to label the bags and containers with the date and the contents. You might think you’ll remember what it is, but six months down the road it might be more difficult to remember what was in each bag or container.

How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom

Freezer tape will stay on the containers despite the cold temperature and the moisture. I like to run tape around the containers too, to keep out air and prevent hoar frost. Wrapping bags and containers in foil and taping will also help with that.

How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom

I like to use resealable freezer bags a lot when I freeze produce. They’re easy and inexpensive. Secret #9: Both bags and containers should be packed full. Remove as much air as possible. A trick I learned is to use a straw to suck all of the air from the bag and then quickly close it.

How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom

For containers, removing air is a bit challenge without the help of a vacuum device. A vacuum sealer is definitely the way to go for long-term storage — both for bags and containers. It is worth the extra expense to purchase a device if you do a lot of freezing. Removing the extra air and sealing fruit and veggies individually in plastic packaging yields a lot better results than the freezer bags alone. (My grandma swears by it!)

Secret #10: When using containers, be sure to leave enough headspace to allow for the liquids to expand as it freezes.

How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom

STORAGE TIME & THAWING

Typically in a basic freezer, frozen fruits and veggies will last a very long time. As time passes, the food doesn’t become inedible, but the quality does deteriorate. If you plan on keeping frozen foods for a long time, a deep freeze might be a better bet as it has lower temperatures and is opened less often.

Secret #11: Fruit will keep well for a year, and veggies will keep for about 18 months. (I’ve had some keep for much, much longer.)

How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom

When thawing, know that fruits are better eaten when still a little frozen so they aren’t completely mushy. Or you can cook them into sauces, or add them to smoothies. Vegetables are best cooked straight from the freezer, no thawing.

Some vegetables suffer no ill effects from freezing — corn and peas, particularly. Others will be better in recipes where they will break down and be consumed in smaller pieces, like soups, stews and sauces. There’s nothing easier than pulling a bag of broccoli, carrots and cauliflower straight out of the freezer and toss them right into a Thai curry.

How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom

Well there we have it. Everything you need to know to get your summer harvest stocked away for the winter.

What about you? Does all this talk about freezing fruits and veggies take you right back to summers at your grandma’s house? Do you prefer canning? Any tips or secrets you’ve learned along the way? I’d love to know!

P.S. — Love secrets? You can find all of the other posts in the Living Well series here.

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{ 101 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Maria Babin May 29, 2013 at 10:25 am

The Living Well series is simply genius, Gabrielle and Lindsay! If you turned it into a book, I’d be the first to buy it! So well thought out, planned and executed! Crystal clear explanations and gorgeous photography!

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2 Sharon @ Discovering Blog May 29, 2013 at 2:09 pm

I completely, 100% agree. I love the tips, I love the photography, and enjoy the personal touches.

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3 Lindsey Johnson May 29, 2013 at 7:35 pm

Thank you, Maria! (Totally blushing right now.) :)

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4 kim @ DESIGN + LIFE + KIDS May 29, 2013 at 9:18 pm

TOTALLY! your tips and photography are so helpful and eye candy…

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5 Petra Palmer June 4, 2013 at 10:52 am

I fourth that! A really stunning resource! Thanks for all the work you put into it, I will definitely come back to it for reference. Practical and so pretty with your photos!

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6 Margaret May 29, 2013 at 10:50 am

This is brilliant. I already freeze a number of fruits and veggies this way — you’re so right about the quality being better, and they’re so easy to cook with — but I can’t wait to try some of the tricks that are new to me: fruit in syrup, avocados… Thanks for gathering all this handy info in one place!

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7 Lindsey Johnson May 29, 2013 at 7:35 pm

So glad, Margaret! Thanks!

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8 PARIS BEE kids blog May 29, 2013 at 10:53 am

Great to have all these tips!!! Thank you!!

xoxo PARIS BEE kids blog

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9 KelliO May 29, 2013 at 11:10 am

Lovely pictures! I sure wish I had a bigger freezer!

Question: how do you manage to do salsa? Last summer we froze some, knowing we’d want a February pick-me-up, but it was much more liquid than I prefer. Do you just make your salsa extra chunky to freeze?

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10 Lindsey Johnson May 29, 2013 at 7:37 pm

I know exactly what you mean! You can either strain off the extra liquid, add some tomato paste to thicken it up from the get-go, or I seed my tomatoes. When I cut them in half–either direction–I gently squeeze out the pulp and seeds and then just chop the meaty part. When we thaw it out, I usually puree some to make it thicker.

Hope that helps! Thanks, Kelli!

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11 Michelle May 29, 2013 at 11:48 am

Oh my, how have I never thought of freezing avocados? Do you eat it fresh from the freezer, or is it better cooked out of the freezer? By the way, my life totally changed for the better when I discovered flash freezing. I didn’t know the emphasis should be on freezing quickly though (as opposed to just freezing separately). Very helpful post for amateurs like me – thank you!

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12 Lindsey Johnson May 29, 2013 at 7:38 pm

Hi, Michelle! These are great questions!

You can use the avocados frozen in smoothies. You might want to dice them or slice them for easier blending. But they actually thaw out for guacamole pretty well. I think it’s due to the higher fat/lower water content.

Thank you!

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13 Laura May 30, 2013 at 3:16 pm

Thanks so much for this post–I’ve never thought of freezing avocados!

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14 Diana June 15, 2013 at 11:05 am

I wish I had seen this when avocados were on super sale here. Next year… OMG…

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15 Mandy May 29, 2013 at 1:00 pm

What beautiful photos! This is such a useful post that I will be referring to regularly as I know I have planted too many veggies in our garden this year to eat this summer. I never knew you could freeze so many of the things you mentioned. I saw you posted kale and spinach, but do you think I can freeze lettuce somehow for smoothies as well? Hmm… I might just have to give a bunch of red lettuce away at work. Thank you so much for this timely post!

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16 Lindsey Johnson May 29, 2013 at 7:42 pm

Hi Mandy! I don’t see why you couldn’t freeze lettuce. I would maybe do the ice cube trick instead of the other because lettuce has more water than some of the other greens. Woohoo for a hearty veggie garden! :)

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17 Beverly April 5, 2014 at 10:19 pm

Lettuce, especially iceberg, does not freeze well. Way too much water content. Leaves will turn slimey. (I grew up in lettuce country and my sister worked for Bud Antle in Salinas, CA.)

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18 Dee Wilcox May 29, 2013 at 2:13 pm

This is brilliant! I freeze quite a bit, but you’ve outdone yourself! And now I know what to do with all our extra greens. Thank you so much!

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19 Annie May 29, 2013 at 2:35 pm

This is SO helpful. Going to be referring back to this post all summer as all the good fruits/veg come in.

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20 Rebecca May 29, 2013 at 4:20 pm

I’m so glad I read this. I’m totally gonna chop up some stir fry veggies and freeze them into meal size packs especially since you said they’re better cooked from frozen. Life. Changed.

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21 Marija Taraba May 29, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Why do you leave greens on your strawberries?

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22 Lindsey Johnson May 29, 2013 at 7:45 pm

Hi Marija! I used to cut them off, but saw a friend who left hers on and I thought two things– a) easier to freeze them whole and b) extra nutrients. I usually cut them off when I eat the strawberries raw, but in a smoothie, I don’t mind them.

Great question! I should have said that in the post.

Here’s a link to some of the health benefits:
http://www.livestrong.com/article/472453-what-are-the-health-benefits-of-strawberry-leaves/

Reply

23 Eliza May 29, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Tip #8 is very important! Once I thought I was making a watermelon milkshake but it turned out to be a stewed tomato milkshake….

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24 Lindsey Johnson May 29, 2013 at 7:45 pm

Ha! That has totally happened to me before!

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25 Koseli May 29, 2013 at 5:46 pm

This post is absolutely gorgeous. Practical tips, too. I agree with the canning conundrum: I prefer fresh/frozen so much more. Thank you, Lindsay!

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26 Lindsey Johnson June 4, 2013 at 8:26 am

Thanks, Koseli!

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27 Beth May 29, 2013 at 7:50 pm

Thanks so much for this timely post…picking season is just about to begin. Regardless of how quickly and diligently we eat our produce, u-pick markets = LOTS of extra food! Thank you.

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28 kim @ DESIGN + LIFE + KIDS May 29, 2013 at 8:34 pm

I love these posts! I often refer to the how to store fruits and veggies when I’m buying large amounts of produce and I get a little bogged down and forgetful. Thank you!

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29 Marie May 30, 2013 at 9:43 am

Can you pleeeeeeease post a recipe for freezer jam??? I am so intrigued, but have never heard of it before!

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30 Laura May 30, 2013 at 3:18 pm

And a salsa recipe too, if you have a chance! I’m determined to stop buying salsa from the store!

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31 Lindsey Johnson June 4, 2013 at 8:37 am

Marie, I usually just follow the directions on the pectin packages I pick up at the grocery store or other big stores like Target. (This is one brand I’ve used before and is available most anywhere http://www.kraftbrands.com/surejell) I try to be sure that I get one that doesn’t require the use of corn syrup. The liquid Certo pectin (from SureJell) works great! You just add a little fresh lemon juice, mashed fruit and sugar. There are also low-sugar and no-sugar pectin packs available. I was always nervous to try freezer jam until my good friend showed me how easy it was. It literally takes just a few minutes. The package insert will tell you how much fruit to buy, etc. This is another great resource for making no-cook freezer jam. http://www.seriouseats.com/2011/06/how-to-make-no-cook-freezer-jam.html

Laura, I use the same recipe for fresh and frozen. :) I think it’s pretty fantastic. One thing you can also do is double it or triple it and use some canned tomatoes in addition to the fresh. That helps keep it from getting too watery when you thaw it out. It is different thawed than fresh. So when we use it, it’s not just to eat with chips. I’ll use it in other ways too. Another tip–squeeze the pulp from the tomato halves before dicing them. :)

Restaurant Style Fresh Salsa

Ingredients:

5-6 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
3-4 green onions, thinly sliced and chopped (red, white or yellow onions are fine too)
1 large jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed (if desired), finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely minced
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper, to taste
fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Instructions:

Toss everything together in a bowl and eat with chips.

Variations:

Add some diced mango, pineapple or peaches along with the tomatoes for a fruity salsa
Try using other kinds of tomatoes or tomatillos, and chiles for a different flavor
Add some ground chipotle chili powder for a smoky, spicy kick.
Change up the herbs by using parsley or oregano instead of the cilantro.

Makes about 3-4 cups of salsa.

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32 Patty Buck February 21, 2014 at 8:09 pm

I have this recipe without pectin, can this be frozen?

1 plus 1/3rd strawberries
2/3rds rubarb
2 T honey or to taste
2 T chia seeds which will thicken the puree.
This is a more healthy version.

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33 Andrea May 30, 2013 at 11:20 pm

Thanks so much for sharing. We do a lot of freezing and canning at our house. I agree that frozen produce tastes much more fresh. (Strawberry freezer jam beats canned jam any day!) However, we still can some of our produce because we consider our food stash to also be an emergency stash. In the case of a power outage, my four kids will still have yummy canned peaches to eat. :)

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34 Lindsey Johnson June 4, 2013 at 8:40 am

You’re totally right. :) My kids still prefer home canned peaches to almost anything else–especially if they are really good peaches.

And because you brought it up, power outages are a good thing to address! So thanks for jogging my memory!

If the power goes out and the freezer is full of food, the best thing to do is leave the freezer closed. If things don’t completely thaw out, they can be refrozen. This is assuming the power outage isn’t very long, of course. :) Sadly, if you have a freezer full of delicious summer fruit and someone unplugs the freezer and you don’t find out until a week later, nothing will be salvageable. Or so I’ve heard… ;)

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35 Holly June 16, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Iwas told yhe secret of sabing your treezrr during power outages. I open thr feezer to lay in as many newspapers I have on hand and perhaps a blanket. This forces the cold air to stay “low” by filling the empty space. After a five day outage, only a few smaller packages were getting soft.

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36 mouse May 31, 2013 at 10:31 pm

I used to have problems with my berries sticking together, even if I flash froze them first and then put them in containers. But then someone told me to not wash them, just dry brush visible dirt off then freeze. No more berry clumps! If you like you can wash them when you take them out of the freezer to use them.

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37 Lindsey Johnson June 4, 2013 at 8:41 am

That’s a great tip! Thanks!

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38 Tami Paul June 17, 2014 at 12:40 pm

I don’t wash my berries before use either. I just dust like you said. then I put them in a canning/freezing quart jar. I have an attachment for my seal a meal that takes the air out and seals the seal on. and throw in the freezer. when I come back in the dead of winter and pull them out. they are not stuck together and is like 99% tasting like fresh. (just a hair more moisture).
Also wanted to say, people should get a blue book or look up online for blanch times. If you don’t blanch the right amount you could loose a lot of nutrient from over or under blanching. I use to work at a frozen veg. plant for 14 yrs.

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39 Sarah June 1, 2013 at 11:17 pm

This really does take me back to my Grandmother’s house! She and my Grandfather had a deep freeze where they would keep lots of frozen fruits, veggies, meats and jams. These tips are very helpful. Thank you for sharing!

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40 Ana June 2, 2013 at 4:37 pm

Thank you! The article is amazing,love all the tips for freezing and the pictures are beautiful!
Fantastic job!!!

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41 Cathleen June 2, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Potatoes freeze wonderfully just not as “potatoes”. Boiled and then sliced into steak fries. IQF the pieces and then when you want French fries you take them out, no need to defrost, toss with seasoning and some oil and then roast.

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42 Lindsey Johnson June 4, 2013 at 8:41 am

Thanks for adding that in Cathleen! I’ll have to give that a try.

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43 Jayne June 3, 2013 at 1:01 am

Really in depth and detailed writeup! I have a chest freezer but it’s really really messy. I want to start freezing stiff but hate that when I want something from the bottom of the freezer, it’s so hard to reach with all the containers stacked on top. I have to figure that out before embarking on this brilliant road of frozen food and produce.

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44 Holly June 16, 2013 at 12:23 pm

My freezer secret, small cardboard boxes. Much easier to lift a whole box of friuts, another for jam, veggies etc. It keeps them from becoming lost in a full freezer. ( I even keep my meal size meat packs
this way)

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45 Molly July 15, 2014 at 10:16 pm

I sort my frozen foods into re-usable shopping bags, then stack them into my chest freezer. They are easy to lift by the handles and move around. My mother-in-law uses paper bags with handles but I have found that they rip easily and sometimes get a little soggy after a long time in the freezer. I hope this helps, good luck!

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46 Maggie June 3, 2013 at 6:03 am

What about tomatoes? They seem very high-water content. Besides cooking them into a sauce, can they be frozen as is?

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47 Lindsey Johnson June 4, 2013 at 8:43 am

I freeze them whole on a baking sheet like with the berries and put them into bags. They are great in soups and stews–straight into the slow cooker too–and I even roast them. The peels come off so easily after they’ve been frozen. I don’t use them as fresh though–only cooked into something else. Though I suppose they could be pureed into veggie juice or something. I’ll have to try that out. :)

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48 debbie June 3, 2013 at 10:48 am

I have tried to freeze fresh corn repeatedly. On the cob, off the cob, and even blanched and use a seal a meal. It still comes out mushy. I would love to know how green giant does it LOL.
any suggestions?
thanks

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49 Lindsey Johnson June 4, 2013 at 8:45 am

Hmm. I don’t think it’s you. Could it be the corn? Are you using older corn? I’ve had good success freezing young, sweet corn. I’ll do some looking around for you!

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50 Bridget June 3, 2013 at 7:43 pm

I love all of this great information! I currently have squash and zucchini coming out of my ears. I have been blanching and freezing, but I am not sure how it is going to come out. Should I flash freeze it? I have been using freezer bags and sucking the air out with a straw.

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51 Lindsey Johnson June 4, 2013 at 8:48 am

Hi Bridget! Everything I’ve read about freezing squash over the years suggests blanching and flash freezing before packing into bags. Or the grating, which is what I usually do.

It will come out fine, I think. A little mushier than fresh, but that’s to be expected with squash. One thing you could try (and I’ll do the same when my squash plants start producing in a few weeks) is to sprinkle cut squash with a little salt and letting some of the excess water drain off. I’m just thinking that could help with the mushy factor. Try also cutting into smaller pieces and using smaller squash. The larger ones are really pithy and bitter anyway.

Hope that helps!

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52 Bridget June 6, 2013 at 11:46 am

That helps! I will try the flash freezing today with the other two 5 gallon buckets I have from yesterday! Thanks!!!

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53 K. February 22, 2014 at 8:27 pm

Instead of using the straw trick to remove air from my freezer bags I like to fill a clean sink with water and then I seal all but a small bit of the freezer bag. Then I submerge the bag keeping the opening out of the water. When about all the air is out you just seal the rest of the bag and boom ! vacuum sealed. This works for me every time. Then all I do is towel off the water from outside of bag and freeze.

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54 Jen Clark June 4, 2013 at 7:12 pm

What great information and beautiful pictures!! I am so glad I saw this on Pinterest and can’t wait to explore the rest of your blog!

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55 Knox June 5, 2013 at 9:17 am

What suggestions do you have for freezing rhubarb?

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56 Adebo119 June 6, 2013 at 9:55 am

Thanks for this- you’ve made a woman in London, England very happy tonight! One question though- do the avocado pears come out okay after freezing? It’s only I’ve read so many times that they don’t freeze well unless mashed/puréed. Can I slice them after they’ve been frozen and thawed? Thanks again

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57 Jessica June 6, 2013 at 10:29 pm

Can you freeze cilantro?

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58 Karla June 7, 2013 at 10:31 pm

I love to freeze fruits and veggies. Thanks especially for the tip on avocados. When I’m freezing peaches, I choose the freestone variety. Then I slice in the middle, take the stone out, put the two halves back together and wrap string around it a couple of times. When I have a box full of these, I put them in the freezer, peeling and all. They last this way for at least 7 months. When I want to use them, I run a frozen peach under warm water, and take the string off. The peeling is removed very easily. A frozen, peeled peach half is really to use as I want.

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59 Aliesha June 11, 2013 at 8:02 am

This was a beautiful article! I have been freezing for years but learned some cool secrets. Thank you.

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60 Canadian Budget Binder June 18, 2013 at 9:32 pm

A fan of mine pointed to your post and I’m glad she did. I learned lots from reading it so thanks for putting this together. I make basil garlic cubes in muffin tins as I found it much easier than the ice cube trays. That might be another idea for your spinach cubes. Cheers Mr.CBB

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61 Pauline June 20, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Thank you for sharing this! I was looking for ways to freeze avocados, we are expecting a big crop and I would love to have guacamole all year.

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62 Alexandra June 21, 2013 at 9:48 pm

Something you might want to note is that bananas frozen unpeeled are quite difficult to peel without being thawed and bananas get quite mushy once they are thawed. I much prefer to peel my banana before freezing. Other than that I love these tips and some of the things I would never have thought about, like freezing my homemade salsa. I love homemade salsa but I always end up making more than will get eaten before it goes bad in the fridge. Thank you for sharing all of these wonderful ideas!

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63 andre July 9, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Run the frozen banana under hot water. The skin will thaw and a twisting motion will remove it from the fruit.

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64 emily June 27, 2013 at 8:44 am

Hi there! How about freezing spinach, mesclun mix, etc. for use in salad? How would that come out, and if it’s okay to do, how should I do it? Thank you!!!

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65 emily June 27, 2013 at 9:05 am

Thanks for the quick reply Lindsey! Now, what if I saute the spinach ahead of time for use, say as a side with fish, just to eat heated up?

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66 Shelley Alexander June 28, 2013 at 8:49 pm

Hi Gabrielle,

I just discovered your lovely blog from this pin on Pinterest and I’m so glad I found it! You have wonderful information and the pictures by Lindsey are beautiful! I look forward to reading and sharing your other posts. Have a great weekend. :)

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67 Justyna July 5, 2013 at 8:46 am

Great blog! This is my first read, and its fantastic!! Wonderful advice and amazing pictures :-)
For the pureed spinach cubes, how much spinach ends up in each cube? I will be using them for smoothies so maybe just an idea of how many cubes to add for each serving?
Also, what is the deal with freezer burn? How much is too much? And how rapidly does it kill the nutritional value?
Thanks!

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68 Danijela July 7, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Wow, this is awesome. Thanks!

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69 Chris July 8, 2013 at 7:21 pm

Also, if you’re able to afford them, I find that glass tupperware is a good investment. It doesn’t leak phthalates or other toxins, carcinogens, or hormone disrupting chemicals onto your food as plastic tupperware and plastic bags do. Also, it’s hardier and there’s lots of glass tupperware brands that are oven-safe, too. I love kitchen items with a double purpose!

Remember to recycle plastic tupperware if you have to dispose of it! Plastics can take decades or hundreds of years to biodegrade if they’re thrown away, and they leave behind toxic chemicals as they degrade. Bits of plastic garbage that are eaten by wildlife or in which animals become entangled can kill them.

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70 sandy July 17, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Freezing Food

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71 Kay July 18, 2013 at 6:56 am

I really love this post. I have one question….do you ever freeze cucumbers? I never seem to be able to remember they are in the drawer until too late…then the chickens get them. But I like to use them in smoothies and flavored waters. I was thinking of mooshing them up into ice cube trays…which I need to buy since fridges don’t come with them anymore. But if I could do slices somehow…that would make me happy!

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72 Jeramey August 6, 2013 at 6:21 pm

I tried freezing shredded zuchini but was unhappy with the results. As you mentioned the water in it expanded so I was left with a mushy texture that really hard to sepparate for the recipe I was making. This year I will freeze it in large chunks then thaw and shred as I use it.

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73 Rachel August 9, 2013 at 6:20 am

Just a comment about the bananas….Make sure that you peel them. Learned that the hard way the first time I froze them. Do not freeze with banana peel on them otherwise it peels off in tiny little chunks and takes forever to get off.

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74 kim February 22, 2014 at 8:22 pm

Just run the banana under water of a couple of seconds and then peel with a knife.

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75 Em August 10, 2013 at 10:40 am

I have heard that if you store the pit of the avocado with it, it will help prevent the avocado from turning brown. I don’t know if it would help in freezing. I left a pit in my guacamole once while storing it in the fridge and it did not turn as brown as it normally does.

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76 DefOpeninet August 11, 2013 at 7:36 pm

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77 Janice September 10, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Great article! I’m curious if you’ve ever tried a vacuum sealer and/or if there’s a reason you don’t use one.

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78 Janice September 10, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Oops, I see that you did mention it. :)

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79 Sarah October 4, 2013 at 6:09 pm

These remind of many things my mom and grandmas would do. We always had a garden when I was a kid and we had so much from the garden we preserved some how, either canning, freezing, or dehydrating. I started doing some of these tricks when I was in college. I had a combo mini fridge and freezer so I would freeze tomato sauces and meat in ice cube trays and then reheat what I needed. Now I freeze things that I buy in my Bountiful Basket since my husband and I can’t eat all of the fruits and veggies before the would spoil. Thanks for a few other tips I haven’t done in a long time. :)

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81 Chris October 28, 2013 at 3:23 pm

I was curious if I would be able to reproduce this into a handout for our local foodbank. Many clients receiving produce do not know how to properly freeze them and this is a great guide!!

Thanks
Chris

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82 Tom December 13, 2013 at 10:28 am

Great post! I like to freeze concentrated chicken broth into ice cubes.

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83 Danette December 14, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Another tip, like the spinach, I put my jalapeños in my food processor and then in ice cube trays. I spray the trays lightly with vegetables spray first and the pack with a smidgen of water to hold them together. Then store in a freezer bag.

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85 Betty Pino February 21, 2014 at 7:40 pm

This was all so good to read and learn from I freeze bell peppers when in season which is almost year round in Florida, I also dice up onions and freeze them in freezer bags. Will be trying more fruits and vegetables. Thank you for everything I have found so amazing in secrets to freezing produce etc.

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86 Cathy February 22, 2014 at 8:23 am

@Tip #4: I have several times found Dole Spinach sales(a dollar a bag) at no limit and have froze the entire unopened bag. To use, I crunch the bag and use in my smoothies or add in at midway cooked scrambled eggs. I check every bag for ‘best used by date’ usually have 7 to 10 days and get the freshest. I also grow Kale and do a wash, spin dry, chop, freeze on wax paper then bag and use as I do the Spinach. Try red pepper, onion and mushroom for start and add Kale to top off my scrambled eggs. Bkf meals are great for any meal! I also, freeze chopped celery, onions, red, yellow peppers, mushrooms, and zucchini slices and many fruits. I take a serving of desired frozen veggies and freeze altogether for a quick grab for morning stir-fry, makes for less opening and exposing to air. I have read that eggs can be frozen as long as they are out of the shells but have not tried it yet. but with the cost of eggs thinking about it on next sale on fresh eggs. Thanks for your post on avocado that will help greatly! :)

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87 K. February 22, 2014 at 8:45 pm

I read somewhere that you can freeze eggs in ice-cube trays so I tried it and it worked out pretty well. You do have to stir them with a fork or whisk before freezing. It’s great to use when baking or for scrambled eggs.

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88 K. February 22, 2014 at 8:54 pm

I read some where you can freeze eggs in ice cube trays. I have done this and it works pretty good. You have to stir them with a fork or whisk before pouring them in the cube trays. They work well in baking and also for scrambled eggs.

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89 Karissa April 16, 2014 at 8:43 pm

Is it safe to store sliced grapefruit, mandarins, cucumbers and mint into a mason jar in the freezer. Or should I be storing them all seperately. I tried this and the citrus fruit seemed mushy, the mint browned & the cucumber seemed a little pickly. Any suggestions? I use them for a fruit infused detox water.
Thanks

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90 Momma Sue May 14, 2014 at 9:45 am

If you dip the filled freezer bags into cold water, up to the seal, it will result in pushing all the air out. seal while holding the bag in the water. Almost as good as a vac. seal .

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91 Martha May 19, 2014 at 9:37 am

What a useful, colorful, informative post. Thank you!

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92 Linda W June 18, 2014 at 1:35 am

In the food preserving books there are only a few vegs. that you can freeze without blanching. They say that if the enzymes aren’t killed? the enzymes keep on aging your food and it will not be as good. You don’t have to blanch onions or green peppers before freezing. Can’t remember if there were any others.
To the author, have they changed the rules about freezing vegs.? Where did yhou get your info? I do know that tomatoes will have that “end of the season” weird taste if you don’t blanche them. Also okra. I really hope you have a secret that takes care of the blanching cause it’s a mess to do and I hated doing it, but my veggies tasted peculiar without it.

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93 Barbara Lott June 21, 2014 at 12:38 pm

I grow muscadines (grapes) in my back yard. Last summer I canned several dozen
quarts of juice for drinking or making jelly, jam, or various desserts. The juice was
a beautiful red color. Now it has turned a nasty brown color. Is there something
Ican add to the juice to prevent this from happening? Also it was boiling when I poured it into the jars. Do you think this juice is spoiled?

Thank you. I enjoyed your post.

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94 Emily July 22, 2014 at 1:51 am

Great post. I grew up on a farm, and even with my own family, we still have a garden (and poach most things from Grandpa’s farm).
Corn- blanche it and take it off the cob. It keeps way better and longer and takes up way less space.
Squash- we cook it completely (boil or bake) and then mash. Freeze it like this. Reheat in the oven.

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95 Yorletty July 25, 2014 at 2:23 am

Absolutely, love and appreciate the wonderful tips and photos. Thank you so much Lindsey.

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96 Katie B. July 25, 2014 at 8:32 am

This is a really helpful site! I am having to teach myself to do all of these handy kitchen things, as my mom was (and still isn’t!) much into cooking. I have learned how to cook produce over the past few years, but always find it going bad before my husband and I can finish it. So, now I’m learning how to preserve our food! These are fantastic tips!

One question… I have purchased store-bought frozen bell peppers before to use for stir-fry and did not care for the way they tasted. Do you have tips on thawing out and using the frozen food? I feel like with most things, they have worked for the recipes I want them for… but the peppers had me baffled. I followed the directions on the bag and they still came out mushy and watery. I suppose I could always use them for salsa, but just curious if there’s a good way to thaw them for recipes such as fajitas or stir fry.

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97 Lindsey Johnson July 28, 2014 at 11:37 am

When it comes to bell peppers, it can be a little tricky! I use them without thawing them out. They will release water as they cook and not be like fresh at all. Freezing destroys the cell walls which is why they end up mushy. The flavors can be affected by freezing. You never know how long they’ve been on the store shelf! I guess what I’m saying is, frozen peppers won’t taste or behave the same as fresh ones. I do use them for fajitas, but I know going into the recipe that they won’t be the same as fresh. Cooking them at a higher temp to evaporate the water more quickly could help. Sorry I can’t offer more advice!

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98 Lisa August 9, 2014 at 9:36 pm

My question is there an alternative to lemon juice (actually any citrus), citric acid or absorbic acid? I’m allergic! But love to can and freeze!

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99 Brenda August 11, 2014 at 8:46 pm

I have lots of banana peppers. Last yr I froze separately then put into bags, but when I opened them and they thawed they were mushy-soft. I would like for them to be crunchy like when I pick them. Is there an answer for this. Thank yiu

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100 Stephanie August 11, 2014 at 10:10 pm

I think this is a really thoughtful website… one of the best that that I’ve come across… I just wanted to say WOW!! you are a blessing … and are blessed… thank you very much…

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101 Lindsey Johnson June 22, 2014 at 6:12 pm

I haven’t tried that myself, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. If you try it, let us know how it works!

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