Sun is shining and the weather is sweet. I hope you all have been enjoying some fresh produce from your plants. The last few weeks I have been enjoying quite a few beans, basil, and tomatoes. We are getting to that point in the season where you may have extra produce. So you have two choices: give it away or preserve it for the later use. One of the easiest ways is to freeze your produce. Some vegetables can simply be put in a plastic bag or container and thrown in the freezer. Most require a small amount of preparation. Below I will outline different veggies and how to preserve them.
KALE, COLLARDS, and other GREENS
Harvest leaves, wash in cold water, thoroughly dry with a towel, cut in 1/2in strips, place in a labeled quart bag, and throw in freezer. This is the easiest method and probably is best used if you want to use the greens within a few months.
If you stew greens, simply prepare as normal and freeze in appropriate sized containers with broth or liquid.
My preferred method uses a technique called 'blanching'. First wash the leaves, cut out most of the main stem, have a pot of water boiling and a container of cold water with ice nearby, place the 'de-stemmed' leaves in the boiling water for 2-3minutes, remove from boiling water and immediately place in ice water for 1 minute, remove leaves from ice water and place on a towel and pat dry, finally place in bag or container. I find this method to be the best for longer term storage and great for preserving flavor.
One of my favorites. Simply cut out stem and seed cavity and slice into strips that are about 1/4in wide. Place them in a container/bag and throw in freezer. Easy as that. If you don't have enough to fill the bag, keep adding to it as season goes on.
If you freeze these remember they will be mushy when you thaw them. Perfect for cooking with, but definitely not firm. (We will talk about canning in a different post)
For cherry tomatoes simply throw in a bag and freeze.
For bigger tomatoes cut out core and freeze.
Much like the greens you will need to 'blanch' for 2-3minutes dry and place in a bag.
Gently wash leaves, dry leaves, place in a single layer on cookie sheet, place in freezer until frozen, and transfer to a storage container. Please be aware the leaves will turn black. This will not affect the flavor.
My preferred method is to wash leaves, dry them, place in a blender with olive oil, blend until you make a paste, scoop basil paste into ice cube trays, freeze, remove basil cubes and place in a freezer container for individual use. This method works well for many herbs (*some herbs work better with just water rather than olive oil) and allows you to add that fresh flavor to your meals well into winter.
For more info on freezing please see the following resources: