Putting your produce in sealable containers and simply throwing them in the freezer isn’t your best course of action. Not only do some fruits and veggies not freeze well, but you might end up with some unappetizing food down the line. Freezing your fruits and veggies when they’re at their nutritional peaks is a great way to reduce your household waste and ensure that you have enough in-season produce to last you for a while, but it’s important to do it right. Here’s how.
1. Prep the fruits and veggies
Start by prepping the fruits and veggies you want to freeze so they’ll be ready to use when you take them out. Cut off any stems or foliage and give them a good wash. You might want to cut large pieces into smaller bits that you’ll easily be able to incorporate into recipes.
2. Blanche veggies
Most veggies need to be blanched before they’re frozen to preserve their flavor. Just boil water in a pan on the stove, add in the veggies, cover the pot, return it to a boil and cook for a few minutes. The cook time depends on what vegetables you’re freezing, but EatingWell magazine has a handy guide that tells you about some of the most common veggies. After the set amount of time, remove them from the boiling water, dunk them in ice water to stop the cooking process, then dry them thoroughly.
3. Spread them out
To avoid ending up with huge frozen chunks of food, it’s best to initially freeze your produce by spreading it out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place the sheet in the freezer and leave it in there until the produce is solid.
4. Transfer to bags
Once the fruits or veggies are frozen, pack them into quart- or gallon-sized freezer bags. Heavy-weight, air-tight sealable containers also work. Fill the containers to the top and remove as much air as possible from the bags.
Before you put the containers or bags in the freezer, label them with what's inside and the date you froze them. Frozen fruits should be good for a whole year, while frozen veggies can stay good for 18 months.
Now that your fruits and veggies are properly frozen, you can easily toss them into smoothies or other recipes without having to worry about prep time!