When I first began gardening, I was nervous about freezing vegetables from the garden. I felt like this was only for expert homesteaders, but I decided to begin slowly and start that very summer.
Freezing vegetables from the garden is suitable for the beginner gardener. Begin by freezing your harvest without blanching right from the garden, develop good practices, choosing the right container and properly labeling. As a whole, it does not have to be complicated to be effective.
When I decided to create my mini urban homestead, I was determined to make the process very simple and enjoyable. Mastering the art of freezing vegetables from the garden is a great skill to develop so you reduce the amount of food waste.
Let’s explore the best way how to freeze garden vegetables, what vegetables can you not freeze, how to choose the right containers to store in your freezer and fruits I love preserving to use through the spring and winter months.
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CAN YOU FREEZE FRESH VEGETABLES WITHOUT BLANCHING?
I will say ‘Yes’, even if it sounds crazy, but some of the fresh and delicious harvested veggies from your garden can be frozen straight from the garden.
Freezing vegetables that are so fresh from the garden is a great way to preserve the freshness. The key is to have the best produce after freezing is to cut the time from harvest to preserving. Do not let your vegetables sit around for days before you freeze them. The less air exposure, the better the flavor and the crisp texture will remain.
Blanching will always buy you the most time, but if it comes to wasting, freeze your vegetables properly and they will last you longer.
CAN YOU FREEZE VEGETABLES STRAIGHT FROM THE GARDEN?
Freezing fruits and vegetables straight from the garden is not only possible, but it will be an excellent way to preserve the flavors. In the Pacific Northwest with our short seasons, it is important to preserve what we get to extend our delicious harvests.
Even though it sounds so easy and common sense to directly freeze your vegetables, you must understand some techniques, such as the handling of the vegetables, harvesting at the right time, selecting the correct storage container and how long you can freeze your vegetables for safety reasons.
When to Harvest For the Best Flavor When Preserving by Freezing
Freezing raw vegetables is all about harvesting the vegetables right when the flavor is at the peak and has not passed the time. Once you have any blemish or discoloration, the flavor begins to change and it is not optimal.
Always harvest your vegetables or fruits early in the morning or in the evening. Never harvest right after watering or after a rainfall. You want the vegetables to be at the sweetest, when the sugar are concentrated and not diluted by the rain or watering.
This is the time when you will have a burst of flavor that will preserve well.
WHAT VEGETABLES CAN YOU FREEZE WELL AND WHICH YOU CANNOT FREEZE?
It is tempting to think that you can freeze any vegetable or fruit, but you need to be cautious. I will provide you with some key information to get you started on your mini homesteading.
What Vegetables Are Not Recommended for Freezing Preservation Method?
Herbs are excellent for freezing. Hardy herbs are easier to freeze than the softer leaves. Make sure that the herbs is washed thoroughly and dried all the way before storing.
Herbs Can you Freeze without Blanching
Top Vegetables to Freeze without Blanching
Top Vegetables to Freeze that will extend the Preservation by Blanching
- Green Beans
Favorite Fruit for Freezing Preservation?
Select vegetables that will retain their flavor, color and will last by remaining intact.
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO FREEZE HOME GROWN VEGETABLES?
Once you have harvested the right vegetables that will preserved by freezing well, move on to the next steps:
As Soon As You Harvest
A. Begin Treating Your Vegetables Immediately: Do not let your vegetables sit on the counter for days, I recommend you immediately begin the process to freeze the garden vegetables.
B. Wash Vegetables: Use water only or add a teaspoon of vinegar to a gallon of cold water and wash the vegetables to get rid of any soil or insects. I try not to use any pest sprays, this is not great for preserving your food. So washing the vegetables well is important to get rid of any insects.
C. Dry Vegetables: You can dry the vegetables with a towel or paper towel. I like to allow the vegetables to sit on my counter for an hour to make sure it is completely dry. When letting dry on the counter, make sure kitchen is nice and cool.
Begin Storing Process
D. Select Storage Container: You can use a variety of container without having to vacuum seal. I am all for simplicity.
- Ziploc – These are fine to use, but be cautious because they are thinner and can get a hole or puncture easier. They also cannot stand up and I don’t like to stack my vegetable on top of each other.
- Storage Plastic Bags – I like these bags, they are thicker than the ziploc and can stand up in the freezer for storing. The walls are thicker, so I am not as concern as with the ziploc.
- Glass Jars – This is my favorite way to store herbs. They store by sealing really well and I can see exactly what I have.
E. Decide if to Chop or Not Chop Your Harvest: I like to chop my peppers, that way they are ready when I need them and I don’t have to wait for them to defrost before using them.
F. Store the Vegetables: Place the amount of vegetables you would like to store and right before sealing, add a Food Grade Oxygen Absorber Packet. These are excellent since oxygen will impact the vegetables when they are in the container. I add one to two per container, depending on the size. They are oxygen absorbers storage packets.
WHAT IS THE BEST CONTAINER TO FREEZE VEGETABLES:
This depends on your preservations needs, how much storage do you have, how much you are storing and how often will you access that preserved vegetable or herbs.
For herbs I like to use jars, because you can open the jar and close them easily as many times as you needs. When it comes to vegetables I prefer to store in different size heavy duty sealable bags that stand up for easy access.
It doesn’t sound important, but if you are not careful and leave a bag open or jar, the vegetables will go bad quickly. Think about how much you will use at a time if you can and store that amount in individual bags. This little detail will make a big difference between creating waste or having convenience of fresh tasting food at your disposal.
HOW TO FREEZE TOMATOES FROM THE GARDEN?
Cherry Tomatoes are my favorite to preserve by freezing method. I get so many that it is impossible to eat them all before they go bad. Freezing your cherry tomatoes will provide you with great tomatoes for your dishes when you are in the mood for a great pasta dish or maybe some cozy warm soup.
Simple steps will make not having to blanch before freezing your delicious cherry tomatoes; Harvesting, cleaning and freezing method.
Steps for Freezing Tomatoes From the Garden
A. HARVESTING: Harvest your cherry tomatoes at the peak of ripeness, but do not wait until they are over that peak. Fully maute tomatoes that are firms and don’t have any mushy or discolored areas will ensure great flavor. Harvesting in early morning will ensure the sweetest fruit.
B. CLEANING AND SORTING: Select the very best cherry tomatoes. Wash thoroughly, dry with a towel. Make sure they are completely dry.
C. STORING: Freezer safe bags are best for long term storage. I use the type that are thicker and stands up to prevent bruising by stacking the storage bags on top of each other.
FOOD STORAGE BAGS
I like these bags since they stand up and are nice and thick to prevent puncturing easily.
D. FREEZE DRY: Place on a plate in one layer to freeze dry and make sure they are not touching for even freezing on each fruit. Allow enough time for the fruit to become fully frozen. You do not want to store the fruit on top of each other without it being fully frozen since they can bruise.
E. PLACE ON STORAGE BAG: Immediately after removing from the freezer, place in the storage container with a air oxygen absorber pack. (Make sure it is a food grade oxygen absorber for long term storage)
F. STORE IN FREEZER: I like to store my whole tomatoes in a bag that can stand up so I don’t stack them on top of each other and prevent any damage to the fruit.
G. LABELING: Make sure you label with the date you stored the tomatoes.
HOW LONG CAN FOOD BE SAFELY STORED IN A FREEZER?
I don’t harvest a huge amount of food and am looking to store my food for about 1-2 months. If you are looking to store your food for 8 to 12 months, I recommend you blanch the food to keep the freshness.
The most important thing, as you begin is to learn, when to harvest and taking the step to store in order not to waste food and buy you a little time.
Blanching your vegetables will always buy you the most time, but if it overwhelms you to start with, take it one step at a time.
When blanching begin by placing your vegetables in boiling water for a certain amount of time and, removing them to immediately place them in a cold bath to stop the cooking process.
The time for boiling will vary depending on the vegetable. It will vary from 1 1/2 minutes to 7 minutes, depending on the vegetable size or how firm it is.
|Retains nutrients and crips texture.
|Limited to a few veggies and for a short amount of time.
|Retains nutrients and crisp texture.
|You will need to add the extra step that you can add as you are preserving more and want to extend your time.
|Easy method for preservation.
|This method will require some canning tools and knowledge of the steps.
|OLIVE OIL OR BUTTER
|Easy to process, adds time to how long the vegetables will last in the freezer and adds flavor.
|Extra cost of the olive oil or butter.
|Easy method that will provide you with a lot of time to use your preserved vegetable or fruit.
|You can do this in your oven, but will take a longer time. A dehydrator will be best if you are doing a lot of processing.
|Delicious way to preserve and very flexible in adding unique flavors. Check out my yummy Easy Red Onion Pickling Recipe to start with a simple technique that you can adapt and incorporate your favorite flavors.
|This preservation method is more a medium level and will require more skill.
This is my dehydrator and I love how effective it is.
PRESERVING IS A SKILL WORTH LEARNING
This post is for you, the beginner gardener that is looking to get started in developing new skills that are not overwhelming. We all start somewhere and so can you.
Flavor is the one thing that keeps us going back to the garden. The unique vegetables we can grow and authentic dishes we get to taste.
Share your freezing tips and experiences below, let’s help each other, grow, harvest, preserve and enjoy each gardening moment.
Happy Freezing my Cocoon friend!
You Cocoon Awaits You,
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