When it comes to gardening, many people grow what they will eat right away but then are not quite sure what to do with the extra produce. There are other options aside from giving it away to friends, family, coworkers, etc. Some people do not want to can their bounty because they don’t feel they have the time, resources, or the desire to do so.
Many people also feel that they lack the knowledge of how to can, and more specifically, how to can safely. There are other options for extending the harvest, such as mimicking a root cellar, home Lacto-fermentation, dehydrating or freezing.
One benefit of properly freezing your harvest is that there is not a lot of extra equipment needed. Most people who cook already have the needed supplies to successfully freeze their harvest. If you wish to freeze sauces, then some items, like mason jars, maybe a bit of an investment.
However, it is still much cheaper than purchasing all of the mason jars you would need to complete a lot of canning. Mason jars are ideal for freezing because the thick glass helps prevent freezer burn. Investing in good freezer bags, not just food storage bags (these bags must say “freezer” on them,) is also important to prevent freezer burn.
- You must first determine how much freezer space is needed to freeze your harvest.
- A chest freezer is a great investment, but many things can be stored in a standard refrigerator freezer.
- Decide what needs to be frozen right away versus what could sit in a cool area or refrigerator for a while before needing to be frozen.
- Most root vegetables are fine in the fridge for up to 6 months and therefore, will not take up valuable freezer space. Even potatoes stored in root cellar storage will be good for months.
Popular Veggies to Freeze
Commonly, people freeze their green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach, tomatoes and tomato-based recipes, corn, and fruits.
Cooking Vegetables Before Freezing
Most vegetables need to be blanched or parboiled before freezing. This means that the vegetable is cooked very briefly in boiling water and then immediately transferred to ice water to stop the cooking. Without this process, the vegetables would become soft and unappetizing after being frozen.
One vegetable that often does not need to be frozen is shredded zucchini since it can be used in so many recipes. Shredded zucchini is often in abundance in late summer, and it can be used for bread, cakes, muffins and more. If the zucchini is to be frozen, it needs to be blanched.
Maximizing Freezer Space
A helpful tip for maximizing freezer space for liquid recipes, such as soups, sauces or juices, is to take a cardboard milk or juice container, clean it out, and then place a filled freezer bag inside.
Fill the freezer bag and place in the freezer. Your bags will then freeze in cubes that are easy to stack. Also, when freezing liquids in mason jars, it’s important to leave at least one inch of head-space (space between the top of the liquid and the top of the jar.)
For more information on preserving food, vegetable gardening and more visit thewisconsinvegetablegardener.com
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About the Author:
Joey and Holly Baird are a married couple living in southeastern Wisconsin (just outside of Milwaukee). They are the hosts of the only gardening radio show in Milwaukee. Joey & Holly make videos about how to grow your own food organically, reusing found items (or items you may just throw away), what to do with the food you grow, home canning and simple home living. Their goal through their radio show, videos, and social media pages is to show the average person how easy it is to grow food, store food, and reuse everyday items. For more information, visit thewisconsinvegetablegardener.com.