The tail-end of summer is here, which means the produce stands around town are chock full of delicious in-season fruits and veggies. I love driving by and seeing their bins full of gorgeous corn, tomatoes, peaches, and peppers! Not only are these foods at their peak in terms of flavor, but the prices are also the cheapest they’ve been all summer! It’s a great time to take advantage of the windfall of summer produce, and that’s exactly what we’ll be talking about in today’s blog post!
With just a little bit of time and effort, you can stock up on the bounty of the harvest season so you can enjoy it well into the winter! It’s good for the soul to be able to enjoy a delicious peach pie or homemade tomato soup in January, using the peak season produce that you saved months ago. Plus, stocking up on produce is great for your pocketbook! You can stock up now when prices are low, and avoid paying a premium for the same item later on when it’s out of season.
The Easiest Way To Save Seasonal Produce
There are a few different ways to save all that delicious summer produce, but I prefer freezing. Produce stored in your freezer can stay good for several months, as opposed to lasting just a few days in your fridge! One important thing to keep in mind about freezing produce is that air is the enemy. Air exposure leads to freezer burn, and that’s not something you want on your tasty summer produce!
The best way to keep air away from your produce is to package it with a vacuum sealer. Vacuum sealed produce can keep for 1-3 YEARS in your freezer, compared to about 8 months when stored in regular freezer bags. Either method will work well, but if you’re planning on freezing a lot of food, I think a Foodsaver vacuum sealer is well worth the money!
How To Freeze Seasonal Fruits & Veggies
Here’s the scoop on how to freeze all of your favorite harvest produce. Follow these tips, and you’ll be enjoying peak flavor produce well into next year! :-)
1. Peaches & Stone Fruit
Slice the fruits and discard the pits. Sprinkle the fruit pieces with sugar to help preserve their texture, then put them in a freezer bag or vacuum seal them.
Rinse the berries to clean them, then pat them completely dry. Lay them out on a tray and place it in your freezer until the berries are frozen. Remove the tray, then transfer the frozen berries to a freezer bag or vacuum sealer bag. Pre-freezing the berries will make it easier to remove a little bit at a time as you need them for making smoothies, desserts, or baked goods.
3. Peppers (Sweet Or Hot)
Slice your peppers and remove the seeds and ribs. Freeze the peppers on a tray, then transfer the frozen peppers to a freezer bag. (You could also roast the peppers first if desired, then freeze them.)
Slice or chop onions and lay them out on a tray. Place the tray in your freezer until the onions are frozen. Transfer them to a freezer bag and store in your freezer. (Another option would be to caramelize your onions first, then freeze them in small portions in an ice cube tray.)
5. Green Beans & Broccoli
Trim the beans or broccoli into manageable pieces. Drop them into a pot of boiling water and cook for 3 minutes. Immediately transfer the veggies to a bowl of ice water to cool. Then drain the veggies and store in freezer bags or vacuum seal them.
6. Sweet Corn
Shuck the corn and remove any loose threads. Drop the ears of corn into a pot of boiling water, and cook for about 5 minutes. Transfer the corn immediately to a bowl of ice water to cool. Then drain, cut the kernels off the cobs, and store them in freezer bags to freeze.
7. Pumpkin & Other Squash
Steam or roast the squash until tender, then remove the flesh with a fork or spoon. Puree the squash until smooth, then allow it to cool completely. Freeze in containers or freezer bags.
Tomatoes can be frozen whole, sliced, or chopped. You can also choose to freeze them raw or cooked. But however you choose to freeze your tomatoes, make sure you’re planning to use them in cooked recipes later on. Their texture changes quite a bit after they’re frozen, so they won’t work in place of fresh tomatoes. But don’t worry, they’ll still taste every bit as good as they did before you froze them! :-)
To freeze whole tomatoes, blanch them in boiling water for about 3 minutes. Transfer the blanched tomatoes to a bowl of ice water to cool, then remove the tomato skins. Transfer the peeled tomatoes to a freezer bag or vacuum sealer bag.
Another way to stock up on seasonal produce is to cook big batches of things and freeze them to use later. Use in-season tomatoes to cook tomato soup, then freeze it to eat later. Use in-season squash, carrots, and onions to make veggie soup and freeze it! Any prep work or cooking you do now will save you time down the road. Plus, it’s always nice to have a meal in the freezer you can turn to in case of a dinner emergency!
What’s better than a delicious fruit pie made with peak season fruit? (Okay, maybe some things are better, but not very many.) You plan for tasty fruit pies months down the road by making and freezing your pie fillings now! Then when you’re ready for pie, all you have to do is drop the filling into a pie crust and bake it. Check out the post below to get all the details on making and freezing fruit pie fillings!