Summer is a great time for those who love fresh produce. Not only is there abundant variety in the warmer months but prices are also at the lowest point of the year.
Stocking up on summer fruits and vegetables will not only get you the best prices and quality it’s also a wise move for both your body and your pocketbook.
However, stocking up can present a problem if you can’t consume your fresh produce before it spoils, and you have to throw it out. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to get around this problem.
First, make sure you are stocking up of the right types of produce for the season. The USDA has a great seasonal produce guide which can be found here.
Freezing is an easy way to preserve excess produce, you just need to be aware of a few rules to get it right. According to the Cornell University Cooperative Extension, most vegetables that are typically cooked before consumption freeze well. For summer produce this includes green beans, corn (remove from cob first), summer squashes and peppers.
- For best results, avoid freezing delicate or very high-water content produce such as melons, cucumber and lettuce.
- Cook excess tomatoes into sauce and freeze. There are lots of recipes online for fresh tomato sauce including this one.
- For vegetables it’s generally recommended to blanch them before freezing for best quality. To blanch, submerge veggies in boiling water briefly (about 10 seconds) and then plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process.
- Berries of all types freeze very well
- Stone fruits, such as peaches, nectarines and cherries, should be pitted and sliced before freezing.
- To avoid having frozen produce stick together during freezing, be sure to first freeze pieces in a single layer on a cookie sheet and then transfer to a single container in the freezer.
- Be sure to date and label your freezer produce, for best quality and nutrient content, consume within 6 months.
Frozen vegetables can be prepared on their own as part of a meal or they can easily be tossed into soups, casseroles or sauces to boost the nutrition content of the dish. Frozen fruits can be used to make smoothies (check out the recipes here), stirred into hot cereal, yogurt or even used as ice cubes.