Debbie Roland, Master Gardener
Freezing is the easiest way to preserve the flavor of your produce. Almost any produce can be frozen with the exception of leafed vegetables and others with a high water content, like cucumbers.
Produce should be at its peak and in good condition when you freeze it. Freezing in serving size batches allows you to get it into the freezer quickly before the item looses its nutrients.
Sweet corn, beans and carrots are great for freezing. If space is a concern in your freezer, remove the corn from the cob. This can be easily done by taking one row out with a small knife then removing the remaining rows one at a time by hand. You will get more of the corn kernel this way. Beans will taste better if the strings and ends are removed.
Veggies must be blanched before freezing to prevent loss of nutrients. It also prevents changing the color or taste of the vegetable. To blanch, bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Then plunge small amounts of the vegetable into the boiling water. The amount of time for boiling varies with each vegetable. Remove from the boiling water and put into a bowl of very cold water which stops the cooking process. Pat them dry and put in bags to freeze. Remove as much air as you can from the bag to prevent freezer burn. Be sure to write what is in the package and the date it was processed on the bag or container.
The times I found for blanching are: Peas for one minute; beans for two minutes; and carrots and other sliced items for three to four minutes. The FDA has a good Refrigerator and Freezer Storage Chart that is one page and easy to access and print. Go to www.fda.gov.
Berries and grapes do not have to be blanched. Simply wash them and spread them out to dry. Then bag in desired portions. If desired, you can add sugar before freezing to help retain firmness.
Since tomatoes don’t taste as good later when they are frozen, process tomatoes as a sauce adding seasonings or other vegetables now. Then freeze the sauce in bags, tupperware, or recycled containers from the vegetable section at the local grocery store.
Herbs are great frozen and make your winter soups, stews and other dishes taste great. Simple wash and let dry. Then chop as finely as you like and put in ice trays. Add water to each cube section and freeze. When frozen, pop them out and put in bags, label and return to the freezer. This allows you to thaw and use only the amount you will need for your recipe.
If you have questions, please call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700 for more gardening information. Additional information is available at https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu and westtexasgardening.org.