Important Note: When you prepare vegetables for the freezer, don’t just stuff them in a polythene bag until you have a ball shaped bag and pop it in the freezer. Put your veggies or your herbs in the bag and flatten them out with the palm of your hand, so that you have a square, rather thin layer of whatever you are freezing. In this way, the contents of the bag will freeze faster, and they will thaw out faster too. You can also use half the quantity from one bag, or use a handful of herbs from another. You won’t have to thaw a whole bag and waste the rest that you cannot use.
Here are tips on how to freeze more vegetables:
Corn-on-the-Cob: It must be young and fresh. Remove husk and silk and blanch for 4 – 6 minutes. Cool and pack into labeled polythene bags. It is best if you scrape kernels after blanching. Storage time: 12 months. Thaw before cooking and then boil it in salted water for 5 minutes.
Courgettes (Zucchini): Cut in half if they are small or in 1” slices and blanch for 1 minute, dry them, let them cool and pack them in polythene bags. Storage time: 12 months. To cook them, plunge them in boiling, salted water for 3 minutes and then either toss them in butter or cook them any other way you wish. Or, you can let them thaw out and cook them. You can also grate the zucchini and pack them in polythene in small portions. This way you can use them mainly in soups, or wherever you wish to add grated zucchini.
Herbs: Wash them separately (parsley, celery, dill etc) and spin dry. You don’t need to blanch them. Chop them and store in labeled polythene bags. Storage: 12 months. You can add them to every day cooking: soups, stews, casseroles or sauces. Unless you have your own little herb garden, this is a very good way to make sure that you always have herbs at hand when you cook.
Kohlrabi: Trim and peel small, young roots, leaving the small ones whole and cubing the larger ones. Blanch 3 minutes (whole), or 1 minute (cubed). Cool and pack in polythene bags. Storage: 12 months. To use them, plunge in boiling, salted water for 8 – 12 minutes.
Leeks: Trim outer green leaves, and wash well. Slice them and spin dry. Pack in labeled polythene bags and use them frozen in cooking, as required.
Mushrooms: Wipe clean the mushrooms and sauté them lightly in a little butter or oil. Small ones can be left whole, while larger ones can be sliced. Let them cool and pack them in labeled polythene bags. Storage: 3 months. You can add frozen mushrooms to sauces, soups, casseroles, omelets or any dishes that require mushrooms.
Onions: Peel and chop onions. Pack them in labeled polythene bags. Chop onions whenever you have the time, and you will save time when preparing dinner. Spring onions also freeze well. Peel wilted outer leaves, wash, spin dry and slice. Pack in labeled polythene bags. Use as needed for cooking, and they can also be used in salads.
Parsnips and Turnips: Trim and peel, leaving the small ones whole, and cubing the larger ones. Blanch the small ones 4 minutes, and the cubes 2 minutes. Let them cool and pack in polythene bags. Storage: 12 months. To cook them, plunge them in boiling, salted water for 15 minutes when they are whole, and 10 minutes when they are cubed.
Peas: Pod young peas and blanch them for 1 minutes. Let them cool and pack them in labeled polythene bags. Storage: 12 months. You can use them in cooking frozen and boil them for 4 – 7 minutes.
Snow or snap peas: Top and tail young, tender pods and remove any strings. Blanch for 1 minute. Let them cool and pack them in labeled polythene bags. Storage: 12 months. Use them frozen in cooking and boil them for about 5 minutes.
Red or Green Peppers: Freeze whole peppers without blanching. You can halve them, cut off the stems, remove the seeds and blanch them for 3 minutes. Let them cool and pack in labeled, polythene bags. Storage: 6 months for raw peppers and 12 months for blanched ones. Whole peppers can be grilled and halves can be stuffed or used in various dishes.
Spinach: Remove the hard parts and the stems, keeping only the leaves. Wash them very well and spin dry them well, in batches. You can chop up the leaves. Pack them in labeled, polythene bags and freeze. Storage: 12 months. You can keep the tender inner leaves and use them in your mixed salads, and freeze the rest. You can use the frozen leaves in soups, pies and various cooked dishes.
Tomatoes: Wash, skin, chop roughly and simmer gently until all the water evaporates and only the pulp remains. Let it cool and pack in small polythene containers. Storage: 12 months. Use in cooking.
This just about wraps up vegetable freezing!
Next week: Freezing fruit