Freezing food is a practical and easy way to save the abundance of produce that flows into the kitchen and from farmer’s markets all season. Freezing has its cons, for sure. All one has to consider is the great possibility of power outage or malfunctioning freezer to remember a time that you opened the door of one to find melted, smelly food languishing in the musty interior. Freezing is not my main form of preserving, but I still utilize in many ways because I find it very helpful on a homestead.
There are some vegetables and fruits that are better frozen. Eggplant and peas, for example, become mushy when canned. Green peppers and chilies are easy to scoop out into a pot for soups. Greens can be successfully frozen in plastic bags without becoming soggy. And of course meat can be canned but it is easier to separate and freeze in individual bags for suppers.
My granddaughter is here for a few days enjoying the farm. We had fifteen chicks arrive chirping in the mail yesterday and she made sure to snuggle each one. She also helped me harvest mulberries. Berries are delicious as is, straight off the tree still warm, or in cereal, ice cream, or made into jam, or wine, or pie. I will make all of those things and may still have some to preserve for winter. It is lovely to pull out mulberries in December, or rhubarb or raspberries for that matter! Freeze them on cookie sheets first, then pour into bags. They will stay separate and easy to measure out.
I have a confession; I don’t typically blanch the vegetables before freezing. I haven’t seen the point as of yet. We eat them fairly quickly through the winter and they haven’t been bad at all.
I did blanch the peas once and it was easy enough. Throw vegetables into boiling water for a few minutes then transfer to a bowl of ice water. Lay out on cookie sheets, freeze, then pour into bags.
At the end of the summer, I like to have Doug throw peppers, chilies, and eggplant onto the grill. Then I slice them into cubes and freeze on a cookie sheet. Then pour into individual bags for pizza fixings all winter.
Here is the trick for fresh greens all winter. Cut greens, like kale, chard, and spinach, and stuff into freezer bags. Push out air and seal. Then put in freezer. When it is frozen, quickly crush the contents through the bag with your hand. Don’t let it start to thaw. You can easily pour out frozen, crisp greens into your soups and sautes all winter.
Cheese, milk, and eggs can be frozen, but it changes their consistency quite a bit. I don’t freeze broth because I will never remember to take it out in time and big containers take up too much room.
Pile the remaining tomatoes after you are tired of canning into freezer bags and pull them out as needed and put them into the crock pot with soup, or bake on top of rice, or cook down for sauce and use an immersion blender to blend.
Shred zucchini and drain. Then stuff 1 cup of zucchini into muffin tins and freeze. Pop them out and into bags when solid. These make great zucchini fritters, additions to soup, or zucchini bread during the winter and spring.
I am a bit adverse to even the slightest hint of freezer burn so I don’t let anything stay around for more than a year. I start working my way through the freezer in the spring and any burned vegetables left go to the chickens. I think one of those food sealers would be a good investment.
You can freeze juice concentrates, and nuts and seeds from your gardens, or fruit, and vegetables, scraps to make broth, meat, and bread. That makes the freezer (and extra freezer) a good addition to a homestead. Should the freezer break or be out of power for an extended time, you can rely on your root cellar and pantry. But for many things, like fresh greens, peas, and chicken, (and mulberries) a freezer is great!