We wanted to expand our content among the outbreaks of the coronavirus to help you for future trips to the grocery store. It is shocking and even overwhelming to go to the grocery store and see aisles completely empty. After doing some research at a few grocery stores, we have found that people are buying more freezer items than fresh which makes sense when one is considering foods to have on hand for weeks. Below we have a list of items that you can buy fresh and freeze successfully anytime of year, particularly if the peak of a vegetable’s produce season is coming to an end. The key to freezing any fresh fruit or vegetable is to place the item on a cookie sheet in an even layer in your freezer. Freezing the produce this way helps alleviate giants clumps of veggies being stuck together.
1. Berries Berries are a great item to buy fresh and freeze, in fact we often do this during normal grocery weeks to have make ahead smoothies. Tips for Freezing: wash the berries and pat them down dry with a kitchen towel. Remove any stems with a knife (strawberries in particular) and halve or quarter the berries if necessary. Line a cookie sheet with saran wrap and place the berries in an even layer. After they are frozen solid (about 2 hours) they can be moved to a freezer bag or tupperware container. Frozen berries are great in smoothies, pies and desserts, or can be heated with oatmeal for breakfasts.
2. Fresh BananasFrozen bananas are another great option for smoothies and milkshakes. You can even make healthy ice cream with them! Tips for Freezing: remove the peels from the bananas and slice into large bite sized pieces. Place on a cookie sheet or in an even layer in a freezer bag and freeze for at least 2 hours before transferring to a container.
Vegetables Freezing fresh vegetables involves an extra step, but if you’re strapped for good vegetable options in the next few weeks it will be more than worth a few extra minutes in the kitchen. Vegetables need to be trimmed, blanched in boiling water, shocked in ice water, and patted dry with a kitchen towel before freezing. Here are the steps:
- Heat a large pot of water and bring to a boil.
- Have a second large bowl of ice water sitting in your kitchen sink for after boiling.
- Trim and dice the vegetables according to the directions below.
- Put the vegetables in the boiling water. The easiest way to transfer the veggies is to have them in a basket or strainer in the boiling water. Boil the veggies for 3-5 minutes depending on how large you have cut the pieces (tips below). For every minute you have them in the boiling water, keep them in the ice water for the same amount of time. Strain the veggies very well and pat dry on a towel.
- Place the vegetables on a cookie sheet in a single layer and into the freezer for 2 hours before putting in a freezer safe bag or container. This helps keep the vegetables separate from one another for portioning so that you don’t have clumps of vegetables stuck to one another.
- Store the frozen fruits and vegetables in an airtight container for freezer bag. The veggies can last for many months if prepared correctly.
3 & 4: Broccoli and CauliflowerCut the broccoli or cauliflower into bite sized florets, discarding any leaves. The stems can also be cut into similar sizes and frozen if you wish to keep them. Boil for 3-4 minutes and then move to an ice bath.
5: CarrotsFresh carrots are great frozen. Peel the carrots and remove the stems. Slice into your desired size pieces and repeat the same boil and ice bath steps above. Boil and ice the carrots for 3 minutes if you are cutting them into bite-sized pieces, closer to 7 minutes if you plan to keep the carrots whole. If you want to save even more time with this, buy baby carrots and boil as they are!
6: Corn On the CobYou can buy fresh corn on the cob and freeze it both on the cob or freeze the kernels removed from the cob. Corn kernels can be used for stir fry, folding into cornbread mix, and mixed into casseroles. Regardless of the final product, you will need to blanch the corn in boiling water and put it in an ice bath. Follow the same steps above but with the following modifications:
- If you plan to boil the corn and remove the kernels, boil corn for 3 minutes and ice bath for 3 minutes. Pat the corn dry and remove the kernels with a knife.Place in an even layer on a cookie sheet and freeze for at least 1 hour before transferring to a freezer bag or container.
- If you plan to freeze the corn on the cob and keep the corn on the cob, boil the corn for 7 minutes, ice bath for 7 minutes. Dry the corn well and place in a freezer bag in an even layer. Freeze for at least 2 hours before transferring, if you plan to do that.
7: AsparagusRemove the thick, chalky stems from the asparagus with a knife. You can then chop the remaining asparagus into bite-sized pieces or leave the stalks whole, depending on how you prefer to eat them later. Boil and ice the asparagus for 2-4 minutes depending on the thickness of the asparagus.
8: Brussels SproutsRemove the stems from the brussels sprouts and any wilted leaves on the outside of each sprout. If you want to freeze the brussels sprouts whole, boil and ice them for 3-5 minutes depending on how large they are. If you want to cut them in halves or quarters, boil and ice them for 2-4 minutes. If you want to shave them, boil and ice for 1-2 minutes. Make sure they are dried very well before freezing!
9: Sweet PotatoesWash the sweet potatoes and scrub them to remove any dirt. Sweet potatoes will freeze better with the skin on, so you want them to be clean. Slice the potatoes as you would prefer to eat them: fries, wedges, large chopped pieces. Boil and ice the potatoes for 8-12 minutes depending on the size you cut them into. The potatoes are ready for the ice when they are just fork tender. You do not want them to be mushy, so err on under cooking them before over cooking them!