Late summer and fall are the seasons for bountiful supplies of inexpensive, high-quality vegetables. Those of us lacking time or skill to preserve the harvest by canning still have some opportunities to stock up for winter.
Almost all vegetables that can be canned can also be frozen with success. To begin, you need some freezer space, some containers or freezer bags, and a knowledge of blanching. Blanching is the key to maintaining quality in frozen vegetables and is very simple.
To blanch, you need vegetables washed and cut up, a pot of boiling water, a wire basket to hold the vegetables while blanching, and a pan of cold water, preferably ice water. The vegetables should be blanched in small batches so the water remains hot and reaches all the vegetables in the batch.
Start counting time as soon as the basket of vegetables is plunged into boiling water. When the blanching time is up, immediately put the basket into the cold water bath. When the vegetables are cool, which takes about as long as they were in the hot water, drain them thoroughly. Then put them in freezer containers and freeze.
In order to use small amounts of vegetables as desired, a person can spread vegetables on a cookie sheet with space between them. Then freeze. When the vegetables are frozen solid, transfer them to a freezer container. Using waxed paper on the cookie sheet may make this process easier.
Green Beans, 1 to 2 inch pieces 3 min
Beets, boiled whole, with skins on—peel and slice afterward
-Small 25-30 min
-Medium 45-50 min
Broccoli, stalks 3 min
Brussel Sprouts, Small 3 min
-Large 5 min
Cabbage and Chinese Cabbage, shreds or wedges 1½ min
Carrots, whole baby 5 min
-Slices, ¼ inch cubes 2 min
Cauliflower, 1 inch florets 3 min
-Blanch in salted water (1 tsp. salt per quart)
Celery, 1 inch pieces, remove tough strings 3 min
Corn, kernel, blanch on the cob, then slice off 4 min
-Corn on the cob, small cob 7 min
-Corn on the cob, large cob 11 min
Greens: Beet, Turnip, Spinach, etc. 2 min
-Collard Greens 3 min
Peas, shelled 1½ min
Peppers (sweet and hot)—do not require blanching
Potatoes—are best frozen after cooking thoroughly
Pumpkin, broken in pieces, seeds removed, skin left on
-Cook until soft in water or the oven, scrape out flesh, mash coarsely, freeze
Summer Squash and Zucchini, sliced 3 min
Winter Squash—prepare same as Pumpkins
Tomatoes—are best frozen as stewed tomatoes
Turnips, cubed 2 min
Did you notice that cabbage and other greens for cooking can be frozen? This is a great help for singles and couples who hate to buy cabbages and the like because the produce goes bad in the refrigerator before it can be used up.
If you are cooking for one or a few, why not make a harvest tour of fruit stands, grocery stores, and farmers’ markets to buy your winter veggies? First make room in the freezer by using up some of the food and not replacing it. Go in search of the finest, freshest produce you can find; and pick up a bag of ice on the way home. Then—wash and cut, blanch and freeze. In short order, you will have a winter’s supply of quality vegetables at a bargain price.