Freeze Summer for Later

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There are some things that are simply worth the cost. Healthy produce is one of them, even though fresh fruits and vegetables can be more expensive.

Summer is a time of abundance–fruits and vegetables are cheaper and more luscious when they’re in season, but sadly, seasons end. (Find out how to tell what’s in season here.)

That said, there’s no reason you should miss out on blackberries or sweet corn in the fall and winter … and there’s also no reason you should pay a high premium to import them from other parts of the world. Save your money, lower your carbon footprint and savor the sweet taste of summer by freezing your bounty.

How to Freeze Time

We spoke with Daniel Gasteiger, author of Yes, You Can! And Freeze and Dry It, Too, who recommends freezing fruits and vegetables so that you can enjoy them later. Foods stored constantly at 0˚ F are always safe to eat, according to Foodsafety.gov, but for the sake of quality, taste and appearance, plan to use your foods within a year.

Mix fruit with ascorbic acid to prevent ripening, discoloring or browning.

Woman With Freezer

3 Ways to Freeze

1. Fruit

Wash, peel, seed, pit and prepare your fruit in whatever shape you’ll want it later. For apples, peaches, apricots and nectarines, mix ½ tsp ascorbic acid (which is vitamin C, found at grocery stores) with 3 Tbsp water for every quart of prepared fruit, then toss the fruit with the mixture. This keeps your fruit from ripening, discoloring or browning.

Then, just lay the fruit flat on a cookie sheet and let it freeze overnight. The next morning, pack it in freezer bags or containers. Make sure there is as little air as possible in those containers.

2. Herbs

Wash and de-stem. Gasteiger’s trick is to quickly put the herbs in a blender with a bit of water to achieve a thin paste, then place the mixture in a clean, empty ice cube tray. He lets it freeze overnight, then pops out the cubes and places them in bags for later use.

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3. Vegetables

Wash, pare and cut the vegetables. Then, blanche them—boil the food very briefly, until it’s tender but barely cooked, and then immediately plunge into ice water. Blanching vegetables prevents discoloration and toughening in the freezer. Refer to this list for how long to blanche popular summer vegetables.

Should You Freeze?

Obviously, frozen varieties won’t reclaim the exact consistency as the originals. For example, thawed frozen fruit will have a mushier consistency. If you’re not sure whether you’d enjoy the softer fruit, toss a little peach, melon or berry in the freezer overnight and see what you think of it the next day. Our expert recommends eating fruit while it’s still at least partially frozen, unless you plan to cook with it. Try snacking on frozen fruit while it thaws or using it in smoothies.

Note that you don’t have to thaw vegetables before use. Just throw the frozen veggies straight into whatever you’re cooking.

What to Freeze

Here’s our handy guide to what does (and doesn’t) freeze well:

Food Freeze Don’t Freeze Maybe Freeze Notes
FRUIT
Strawberries X
Blueberries X
Raspberries X
Apricots X Good taste, slight change in texture
Cantaloupe X Making melon balls can be work intensive
Honeydew X Making melon balls can be work intensive
Mangoes X Cube to use in smoothies; otherwise try using in salsa or preserving by drying
Peaches X Good taste, slight change in texture
Plums X Good taste, slight change in texture
Rhubarb X Plan to cook with it (like in pie)
Sour Cherries X Plan to cook with them (like in pie)
Oranges X Mushy, and citrus lasts long anyway
Grapefruit X Mushy, and citrus lasts long anyway
Lemons X Mushy, and citrus lasts long anyway
Limes X Mushy, and citrus lasts long anyway
Tomatoes X Hold off unless part of sauce or dish
VEGETABLES
Corn X
Herbs X Try freezing into ice cubes!
Sweet Peas X
Sugar Snap Peas X
Wax Beans X
Asparagus X A bit soggy, but will taste good in soup
Broccoli X Good, but similar to store-bought
Cauliflower X Good, but similar to store-bought
Green Beans X Good, but similar to store-bought
Spinach X Good, but similar to store-bought
Beets X Not great for freezing; last long anyway
Cabbage X Soggy and useless; don’t bother
Carrots X Not great for freezing; last long anyway
Celery X Gets limp and gross; don’t bother
Cucumbers X Too weird and mushy; don’t bother
Eggplant X Cook into a dish and then freeze
Onions X Last long anyway, not worth it
Lettuce X Meant to be eaten fresh; don’t bother
Potatoes X Not great for freezing; last long anyway
Radishes X Not great for freezing; last long anyway
Summer Squash X Cook into a dish and then freeze
Zucchini X Cook into a dish and then freeze

For ideas about how to incorporate your produce into healthy and easy one-pot meals, read here.