Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Freeze Your Garden Produce Now and You'll Be Thanking Yourself Later

The summer harvest is underway and I am starting to get over-loaded with some vegetables from my garden, our CSA and from the gardens of friends and family. All of this wonderful produce at the height of its flavor needs to be preserved so that we can enjoy it later in the year.

I don’t do any canning, but I have found success with freezing a lot of produce from our garden. I was so paranoid about wasting the produce because we can’t eat it fast enough that I spent a recent afternoon washing, chopping and bagging vegetables so that I can freeze for future use.

Green beans

I grew purple green beans this year as an experiment. My girls love them and we have been eating them for dinner quite a bit, but I’m getting a little tired of the beans, so I am freezing the rest for a later date. Beans must be blanched before they are frozen.
  • Wash
  • Trim the ends and cut beans into small pieces
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  • Have a bowl of ice water ready.
  • Carefully put the beans in to the water and boil for 3 minutes.
  • Strain and transfer beans to ice water for at least a minute to cool down
  • Strain and lay out on cookie sheet and stick the pan in the freezer for an hour or so. This is optional, but it makes it easier to pull out smaller portions of the beans.
  • Place beans in freezer bag and keep in freezer.


I started having success with growing parsley, after we put a bunny fence around the garden to keep the critters away.

  • Wash
  • Dry well
  • Remove the leaves from the stems and chop the leaves. Stems can be discarded.
  • Place in a freezer bag.
  • In the off season, break off what you need.
  • I also wash, dry and bag whole sprigs to use in my homemade chicken stock.


I have only had one measly pepper so far, but my neighbor gave me 7 green peppers from her garden.

  • Wash
  • Dry
  • Chop
  • Place in freezer bag. I lay the bag flat and try to get out as much air out as possible. I just break off what I need in the fall and winter for casseroles and soups when I turn the oven back on.

Onions – See peppers

Spinach/Swiss Chard

Sometimes I get more spinach and Swiss chard from our CSA than I can handle. I simple clean, dry and freeze whole leaves in a freezer bag. The spinach and chard crumbles when it is frozen, so when I make smoothies, I break off a handful and throw it in the blender. My kids don’t have a clue.


My grape tomatoes and a few Romas are the only ones ready thus far. Just enough for snacking and salsa. My bigger tomatoes haven’t started to turn red yet. I have frozen clean whole Roma tomatoes in the past. The skins slide right off when the tomatoes thaw. You can then chop and add to soups and sauces.


I have been having trouble with my own zucchini plant, but I have 7 zukes from our CSA. How could I possibly use up 7 zucchinis before they go bad? I love my Grilled Summer Squash, but not every night of the week and I am not about to turn the oven on to bake when it is 95+ degrees outside. When I saw this tip on A Latte' with Ott, A, I knew what I had to do. I hand shredded the zukes, because it didn’t occur to me to use the food processor until I was almost done. I bagged in 2 cup portions.

Do you use your freezer to preserve your garden harvest? What vegetables or fruit have you been freezing?

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  1. I froze both peppers and tomatoes from our garden last year and loved the results all winter long! This year our garden has been pathetic! We lost all of our cucumber plants to bugs/disease, so no yummy pickles for us this year. My pepper plants are sad...nothing from those yet (hope I get SOMETHING before it's all over!), and my tomato plants are also taking their own sweet time. {SIGH} Last year I read that you could wrap onions in tin foil and put them in a cool, dark location (like a fridge drawer) and they would keep for months. It totally worked. I did it with onions as well as leeks and used them fresh (without having to freeze) until I ran out.

  2. You have some great ideas here, thanks for sharing!

    I don't grow as much as you do, but I know you can freeze basil as well. Like the parsley, wash and dry thoroughly. Then freeze the whole leaves. When you need some just grab a frozen leaf and scrunch up. It chops itself.

    I also have frozen rosemary and chopped it up frozen. Worked fine.

    Thanks again!

  3. Great ideas! I freeze herbs, but never much of anything else. I'll be doing that this year though! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Thanks so much for mentioning me. I think you'll really like having the zucchini all grated and ready to go this winter when you take it out. Now we just need to get you canning. I'm hosting a canning week blog party the week of August 23-27th with lots of tips, recipes and give-a-ways so you will be all well educated and set to go next year. Happy Preserving!!!

  5. I do freeze veggis. and fruit from the garden, and some that we get u-pick. I hope to freeze some beans, and roasted peppers from our garden yet this year, and I always freeze some basil leaves for winter soups. So far this year I've frozen sugar snap peas and a bunch of strawberry freezer preserves I made from u-pick berries. Now I need to organize and clean my bigger freezer so I can make room for more frozen foods from the garden!

  6. Thanks for the great freezing tips! I'm hoping they'll come in handy for me soon!

  7. I wish I could get enough zucchini and squash to freeze! I am fighting squash borer worms and something that is laying yellow eggs in all my blossoms. My cucumbers are also being eaten alive by worms. I am beyond devasatated.

    I have frozen my homemade pesto so far from my basil harvest and made pepper jelly with my peppers. I also dried some Roma tomoatoes for sund-dried tomatoes. I am hoping my red peppers do well, so I can roast and freeze some of them.

  8. I always forget to freeze my herbs until it's too late! But I did learn a very cool tip lately:

    Chop up green peppers, basil, oregnao, you name it....put them in an ice cube tray and fill it up with water and freeze. When you make sauce or something in January, just drop the cubes in and they'll melt and instant fresh herbs and veggies!

  9. I dehydrated zucchini recently and it works great in soups! Not as slimy or mushy as frozen or even fresh zucchini. And it takes up much less space!

  10. Love the great tips! Would try the green beans, but I think deer ate all of mine. I like the idea to freeze herbs. Like you, I don't can. I just read In Defense of Food and the author said that freezing produce retains more nutrients than canning. So, no guilt!

  11. I LOVE this! I've been trying to figure out what to do with all my extra veggies, other than give them away to neighbors and friends (which is fun too:)).

    Can you suggest what I can do with my extra cucumbers, carrots and hot peppers?

  12. We don't can either. We freeze all of our extras..tomatoes, peppers, onions, corn, etc. It works great for us, and I don't have to keep jars and a pressure cooker on hand!

  13. Thank you so much for the tips!!! I really appreciate it! I have a nice big garden because we are eating a lot of raw veggies. But I have been wondering how I could preserve them, and I wasn't sure if I really could freeze most veggies! Now my questions have been answered! Thank you so much! I'm going to use this info right away!

  14. thanks for all of the comments and great tips.

    @Amanda - I have never made freezer or refrigerator pickles, but I have seen recipes online. You might want to look into that for your cucumbers. As for freezing carrots, I shred them in a food processor and bag them and put in freezer. Break off what you need. My carrots aren't done yet or I would have included it in my post, maybe I'll edit it, because that is a good question. And hot pepper, I'm not sure why you couldn't freeze, I just have never done so. Thanks for the comments.

  15. I love your new design and thanks for the freezing tips!


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