05 Freezer veggies

first_imgBy April SorrowUniversity of GeorgiaFreezing is one of the easiest, most convenient and leasttime-consuming ways to preserve foods at home. The extreme coldstops growth of microorganisms and slows down changes that causespoilage and affect quality in food.A recent National Center for Home Food Preservation survey foundthat 94 percent of the people surveyed freeze some type of food.The NCHFP is hosted by the College of Family and ConsumerSciences at the University of Georgia.The NCHFP found that most people freeze foods in plastic bags.Other containers are suitable for freezing fruits and vegetables,too. These include plastic freezer containers or glass canning orfreezing jars.”Don’t use paper cartons, like milk boxes,” said NCHFP directorElizabeth Andress. “Many plastic containers that foods arepackaged in for purchase, like yogurt, dips and sour cream, don’tprovide characteristics for preserving quality in the freezer.Freezer foil and coated paper are good for odd shaped foods.”Freeze the bestUse vegetables at peak flavor and texture. Whenever you can,harvest in the morning and freeze the veggies within a few hours.Wash them thoroughly in cold water and sort them according tosize for blanching and packing.For the best frozen-food quality and shelf life, always blanchvegetables (scald them in boiling water or steam for a shorttime).”Blanching stops the action of enzymes that can cause loss offlavor, color and texture,” Andress said. “Blanching time iscrucial. And it varies with the vegetable and its size.”Underblanching stimulates the enzymes’ activity, she said. “It’sworse than not blanching at all. And overblanching can cause theloss of flavor, color, vitamins and minerals.”Then how long?You can get specific blanching times at the NCHFP Web site at http://homefoodpreservation.com.Here are blanching times, in minutes, for some common veggies:green beans, 3; butterbeans, 2 (small) to 4 (large);corn-on-the-cob, 7 (small) to 11 (large); whole-kernel or creamedcorn, 4; collards, 3; other greens, 2; okra, 3 (small) to 4(large); field peas, 2; and summer squash, 3.Boiling is the most widely recommended way to blanch vegetables.Use 1 gallon of water per pound of vegetables.Put the vegetables in a blanching basket and lower them intovigorously boiling water. Place a lid on the pot and startcounting blanching time as soon as the water returns to a boil.ChillAs soon as blanching is complete, cool the vegetables quickly tostop the cooking process by plunging the basket of vegetablesimmediately into a large quantity of cold water.Cool them as long as you blanched them. Drain the vegetablescompletely after cooling.Most foods require headspace between the packed food and closureto allow for expansion as they freeze. Headspace recommendationscan be found at the Website, too.All packaged food should be at room temperature or cooler beforeyou put them in the freezer. Don’t overload your freezer with toomuch warm food at one time.Freeze fastQuick freezing is best for frozen food quality. Spread the newpackages around until they’re frozen. Then you can stack them.”Be sure to label all foods with the name of the food, date andtype of pack,” Andress said. “Most fruits and vegetables willremain high in quality for eight to 12 months. Longer storagewon’t make the food unfit but may impair its quality.”It’s a good idea to post a list of the frozen foods with freezingdates near the freezer. Check the packages off the list asthey’re removed.For more information on home-preserving fruits and vegetables orfor recipes, visit the NCHFP Web site.(April Sorrow was a writer for the National Center for HomeFood Preservation with the University of Georgia College ofFamily and Consumer Sciences.) Volume XXIXNumber 1Page 5last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *