Cooking Tips

Freezing Fresh Produce Is a Gift to Your Future Self

As farmers’ market season ramps up, start “lazy preserving” early and thank yourself later.

Published May 30, 2023.

It’s the start of farmers’ market season! Across the country, fresh fruits and vegetables are hitting the stands. Gathering bunches of carrots, cartons of ripe blueberries, spears of asparagus, and other seasonal produce brings me so much joy.

But if you’re like me, sometimes you can’t eat all the fresh fruits and vegetables you bought before they go bad. Or maybe you like to double it up at the farmers’ market but don’t have time to go through the canning process.

Hear me out: Your freezer is your friend.

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Freezing your seasonal produce, or “lazy preserving,” as ATK Reviews Executive Editor Hannah Crowley calls it, is one of the easiest ways to stop wasting food (and your money). Stashing fruits and vegetables in your freezer is excellent for making pies, tarts, sauces, and more. Frozen vegetables are easy way to add to stews and side dishes for most meals.

Its a great way to get that straight-from-the-farmers-market feeling all year long.

Here are a few steps on how to do it.

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Step 1: Blanch and Shock Vegetables

Blanching or briefly dunking your vegetables in boiling water is essential to maintain their flavor and color. Fruits such as berries don’t require blanching before freezing. Just wash them and skip to the next step.

  1. Ensure your produce is washed and evenly sized or sliced. 
  2. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Set aside.
  3. Bring 1 teaspoon of salt and 2½ quarts of water to a boil for 1 pound of vegetables. Place the vegetables in the boiling water for a few minutes, depending on the type of vegetable. For green and wax beans, 1 minute is a good blanching time. Sliced carrots are blanched for around 2 minutes. If you’re looking for more information, read our article on why and how to blanch and shock vegetables.
  4. After blanching, drain your vegetables in a colander and then plunge them into the ice water bath. This is called “shocking” and it stops the cooking process.

Step 2: Package, Label, and Store the Produce

Once the vegetables are cool to the touch, drain them thoroughly in a colander. To make sure they don’t stick together, spread the vegetables or fruit on a sheet pan and place in the freezer for around 30 minutes.

Then, once frozen, add them to a food storage bag and seal tightly. (You also could use a vacuum sealer.) Next, write the date they were processed and store them in your freezer. 

And you’re done! Enjoy the tastes of spring and summer all year around.

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