16 September 2015

Food for the Winter: Freezing

Freezing is the quickest and easiest food-preservation method, as long as you have the freezer space. In another month or so, I'll have unlimited "freezer" space, but we're still getting into the mid-40s in the daytime so I can't just stick things outside to freeze yet. I'm definitely not in a huge hurry for the cold and snow to arrive, but when they do settle in, the unlimited cold storage space will be nice.

Our above-the-fridge freezer is just about full up with the summer's produce, which is a wonderful feeling going into winter! I'm hoping to make another trip or two to the farmers market before they're done for the year, so I can put up a few more pounds of carrots. In the freezer so far:

3 quarts of cranberries
2 quarts of blueberries
6 quarts of rhubarb 
4 quarts of shredded zucchini
6 quarts of carrots
4 pints of broccoli florets
15 cubes of pesto
A few quickbreads plus bananas waiting to become bread
And butter, because it's on the best sale I've seen all year this week, and butter freezes very well

It doesn't really sound like all that much, looking at those numbers and mentally comparing them to the six or seven months of snowy weather that could be arriving any day now! So obviously, we're not going to be living off of the food in the freezer all winter, although someday when we have our own house and a garden that's definitely something I'd like to try for... but that's years down the road, once Little Bear and Kit are old enough to be helpful either with gardening and preserving or with minding any younger siblings who might have joined us by then. 

Everything helps, though. The berries and rhubarb will be hoarded carefully, used a half-cup at a time to brighten up muffins, pancakes, and desserts all winter—I can't run out before the berries ripen next year! Yes, I learned this from my mother, and yes, Matt and my father both shake their heads at us... but they'll agree there's really no comparing domestic berries to our wild ones. And once I put up a few more pounds of carrots, maybe even some more broccoli or summer squash if I'm lucky, I will hopefully be able to pull out a bag of my frozen vegetables for supper at least one night a week through Easter, or even into April.

I freeze fruit and berries raw, but the vegetables get blanched. Blanching preserves the veggies' fresh flavor and color, and it's super easy. Fill a pot with enough water that it will cover the vegetables once you've added them, then bring the water to a full rolling boil. While it heats, set your colander in the sink and prepare another pot or a big bowl of cold water and ice, again full enough that all of the vegetables will be fully submerged. Once the water is boiling, the vegetables go in for just a few minutes—I gave the carrots four minutes, and the broccoli just two. Then they get dumped into the colander and poured from there into the ice water bath. When they have completely cooled, you can portion them out into freezer bags and put them directly into the freezer.

Look at that color! Fresh broccoli is so beautiful. I'm so excited to be able to look forward to pulling it out of the freezer for supper in a month or two and having it still that bright, fresh green.

1 comment:

  1. I never knew about blanching before freezing! I'll have to remember that. Joey's parents have a chest freezer and fill it with a ton of homegrown produce and homemade applesauce. It's so nice to have all that food throughout the whole year!