Preserving Colorado's Bounty: Freezing Garden Produce

365 Greenhouse & Eco-scapes; Colorado Springs, Colorado; landscaping services; landscapers; Freezing Garden Produce

Colorado’s short growing season means that gardeners need to make the most of their harvest. Freezing garden produce is a great way to preserve the flavors and nutrients of your garden for enjoyment throughout the year. Here’s a guide to freezing some of the vegetables and fruits that thrive in Colorado’s climate. 

Most freezing preservation encourages the use of blanching. Blanching is a process of briefly immersing food in boiling water, followed by rapid cooling in ice water. This technique helps maintain the quality, color, flavor, and nutritional value of fruits and vegetables. Here’s what blanching does:

Enzyme Inactivation: Blanching stops the action of enzymes in fruits and vegetables that can cause them to ripen or spoil. Enzymes are natural substances that are responsible for the ripening and maturation of fruits and vegetables. By blanching, you deactivate these enzymes, which helps maintain the quality of the produce during freezing.

Color Retention: Blanching helps preserve the vibrant colors of fruits and vegetables. It destroys enzymes that can cause discoloration and helps to set the color.

Texture Preservation: Blanching softens the texture of fruits and vegetables slightly, making them more pliable. This can help them retain their texture better during freezing and subsequent cooking.

Cleanliness and Hygiene: Blanching also helps clean the surface of fruits and vegetables, removing dirt, bacteria, and other microorganisms that can cause spoilage.

We will share that we have tried both blanching and not blanching and haven’t noticed a difference in texture so many times, we opt not to blanch (everything except tomatoes). This is a personal preference and time saver for us.

Note that when you freeze your produce, the texture will change. It will no longer be crisp so we recommend using the produce in recipes where softer vegetables would be appropriate.

Vegetables:

  1. Peppers: Wash, remove seeds, and chop. Blanch in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, then cool quickly in ice water. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until firm, then pack into freezer-safe bags or containers, removing excess air.  By freezing in a single layer and then moving into freezer bags, it is easier to remove portions as needed so it doesn’t freeze in one large clump. 
  2. Green Beans: Wash and trim. Blanch in boiling water for 3 minutes, then cool quickly in ice water. Drain and pack into freezer-safe bags or containers.
  3. Tomatoes: Wash and core. Blanch in boiling water for 30-60 seconds, then cool quickly in ice water. Peel and pack whole or chopped into freezer-safe bags or containers.
  4. Zucchini and Summer Squash: Wash and slice. Blanch in boiling water for 1-2 minutes, then cool quickly in ice water. Drain and pack into freezer-safe bags or containers. We prefer to shred raw and freeze in 2 cup portions. This can be easily thawed for use in zucchini bread, soups, and more.
365 Greenhouse & Eco-scapes; Colorado Springs, Colorado; landscapers; landscaping services; excavation services; strawberries; gardening; Freezing Garden Produce

Fruits:

  1. Berries: Wash and dry. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until firm, then transfer to freezer-safe bags or containers.
  2. Apples: Wash, peel, core, and slice. Dip in a mixture of water and lemon juice to prevent browning. Pack into freezer-safe bags or containers.
  3. Peaches: Wash, peel, pit, and slice. Dip in a mixture of water and lemon juice. Pack into freezer-safe bags or containers.
  4. Rhubarb: Wash and chop rhubarb into small pieces. Blanch the rhubarb for 1 minute. Transfer the blanched rhubarb to a bowl of ice water to cool. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until firm, then transfer to a freezer safe bag or container.

How Long Will They Last:

Use freezer-safe bags or containers, removing excess air to prevent freezer burn. Label each bag with the date and contents. Properly frozen produce can last anywhere from 8 months to a year, depending on the type of produce and how well it was prepared and stored. Check for any signs of freezer burn or deterioration before use.

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