Fruits and vegetables are abundant this time of year, and now is a great time to preserve the harvest. One preservation method that is sometimes overlooked is freezing.
Freezing is safe, fast and gives the freshest taste with the highest nutrition rate of any preservation method. Freezing doesn’t kill bacteria, so make sure you wash and package your produce well. Freezing slows or prevents bacterial growth because of the low temperatures. Consider these tips to get the best results.
* Freezers should be kept at 0 degreesFahrenheit.
* Package food in rigid, freezer-safe containers or freezer bags. Make sure to label them.
* Vegetables are best blanched and cooled before being frozen, since it stops the ripening action; however, there are a few exceptions. Sweet or hot peppers can be washed and placed in freezer bags to be used later in salsas or meals. Onions may also be frozen without blanching, but should be double bagged to prevent odor transfers to other foods.
* Fruits typically do not need pretreatment, but for convenience wash and drain them, then freeze individual pieces on a tray. It will take about an hour for them to freeze enough to take the pieces off the tray and place them in freezer bags. When you’re ready to use them, simply remove the amount you need rather than thawing the entire bag.
* For small berries, the less handling the better. Wash, drain and put them in one layer in a freezer bag. Place the freezer bags flat on the tray in the freezer so they freeze as individual pieces. That way, you won’t have to repackage them and risk breaking them into pieces.
* For best quality, do not let frozen fruit completely thaw before eating, as the freezing process damages the cell structure, making the fruit mushy. Put fruit out to eat when you can still see ice crystals.
* Tomatoes can be washed and frozen with peelings on and can be used later in salsa or other recipes. To peel the skins prior to using, pour boiling water over them, and the peelings will slip off. Let the tomatoes thaw a little before trying to chop them for salsa.
* Measure any fruit to be used in a recipe while it is still slightly frozen, and include any liquid from thawing in the measurement.
For more information, visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation website
at http://nchfp.uga.edu/ and click on the link for freezing.
By: Cathy Merrill, Utah State University Extension assistant professor, family and consumer sciences
Ask an Expert: Safety First During Holiday Season
The holiday season can be the most wonderful time of the year, but it's important to keep safety in mind so you can avoid accidents and injuries.Read More
Ask an Expert: Check Your Hunger/Fullness Scale and Become a Mindful Eater
Congratulations! You made it through the holiday season. As we are starting into the New Year, most of us have hit the reset button and have wellness on our minds. One of the things I hear most from people is how they need to cleanse from the holidays, so their answer is to go on a diet.Read More
Four Reasons to Opt Outside on Black Friday
As the holidays roll around, so does the challenge of juggling numerous things - from arranging airport schedules, to cooking the perfect meal and even planning for Black Friday shopping deals. But maybe it is time to take a step back.Read More