Remember when I wrote What the Root Cellar Holds and I used a picture off the internet of beautiful jeweled jars of product meticulously lined up in rows because my root cellar is dark and dusty? Well, I am going to pull a picture off of the internet of a freezer too. This time of year, it ain’t looking so good! The freezer has its pros and cons for preserving food but I think it is worth the effort.
I like to can. I spend a full day once a week all summer and fall, and perhaps more this year, in the hundred plus degree kitchen (we are making an outdoor kitchen this year) just to make sure that all winter we have some pretty great vegetable dishes that taste fresh out of the garden…even during snow storms. But some things don’t can so well.
Eggplant for instance. Imagine that sucker canned. Soaked in water. Gag. Okay, now imagine it sliced thinly, pulled from the freezer, dredged in fresh egg and cornmeal with lots of spices and baked until crisp. Drool. So, no canning eggplant. Freezing is the only way to go. Simply slice up the eggplant, place pieces on a cookie sheet and freeze. Then transfer frozen slices into a freezer bag labeled. We are out, sadly. I will freeze more this year.
The freezer is overflowing with tomatoes. I brought tons home with very good intentions of canning yet another dozen or more jars (we are currently out of canned diced tomatoes. Quite tragic.) and ran out of time. So into bags they went and were placed in the freezer with more intentions to can them…sometime. They are great though. Pop three of them into a crockpot with half a chopped onion, six cloves of garlic, two cups of pinto beans, six cups of water or broth and some taco seasoning. Put that baby on high for six hours and enjoy the world’s easiest and mouthwatering dinner. They simply dissolve into a gorgeous broth.
Mushrooms get frozen around here because mushrooms canned are a tad slimy for our liking. They go from freezer to batter to fried in no time or added to pasta sauce or stew. Out of those too.
Peppers are particularly fun because all you have to do is cut them in half into little boats, take out the seeds ,and line them up on a cookie sheet, freeze, and layer into a freezer bag. Enjoy stuffed peppers all winter long. Once you cook them, they collapse a little and absorb the juices from the filling. Since my family doesn’t care for stuffed peppers, they are saved for get-togethers. I still have a ton.
One year, I grilled slices of eggplant, peppers, zucchini, and onions. I chopped them up and placed into sandwich bags. They came out of the freezer as ready-made pizza toppings. We went through them pretty quickly. Last year, out of time, I took all the vegetables off of the grill and placed them all into bags. I did not cut them up. They are still in the freezer waiting to become some fabulous dish. But alas, I will probably never defrost them and cut them up. Prepping in the summer may seem to be a pain when one is already short on time, but so worth it when it comes to leisurely eating all winter!
Frozen zucchini slices are still sitting in the freezer. Soggy zucchini doesn’t appeal to me. I probably should wait until they are fresh again. Anything that turns soggy, like greens, upon defrosting doesn’t make it into the freezer.
Corn can be shucked and four ears can be placed in a gallon freezer bag. Simply take out, throw into boiling water for five minutes, butter and salt and enjoy summertime eating in January.
Lastly, any leftover soups or beans are placed in the freezer for later use. Sometimes we don’t get to that big pot of soup (I am still having trouble figuring out how much to cook) in the next week and it morphs into something entirely different in the back of the fridge. The chickens love when that happens. But, if I place it in a freezer bag, mark what it is, and put in the freezer, I can pop it out, place it in the stock pot, bag and all, and by the time I am ready to make dinner, I just pour it out and heat it up. Homestead fast food.
What I did though was place bags of screwed up food in there. I made beans, way too many beans, and put way too much pepper in them. No one ate them. I couldn’t bring myself to waste them so I froze them thinking I could “fix” them on the next meal. Every time I see them in there I turn up my nose. The chickies are about to have a feast coming up soon. I need to clean out the freezer.
The main con is the electricity use. I have an energy saving model but it doesn’t do me any good when the electricity goes out. I opened the door to a swimming mess of juices a few weeks ago. Denial is my friend so I just closed the door and walked away. I will probably have to tend to that this week! I don’t eat meat so I don’t worry about half defrosted green pepper halves harming me. It just irritates me that my ice cream melted.
The freezer can be your friend. One more homesteading helper to preserve that delicious harvest, whether it be out of your garden or from a local farm’s. Not having to grocery shop for vegetables mid-winter and the pride of having fed yourself and your family is a pretty great thing!
By the way, I do not blanche any of the above items. They all keep just fine and if I had to take the time to blanche them, they wouldn’t ever make it to the freezer! Happy Preserving!