As you might imagine, I’m all about food storage and preservation. And while canning is a great way to go, it’s not a good solution for fresh, fleshy vegetables. Last year I discovered the poor man’s way to flash freeze veggies and it’s a perfect way to keep seasonal veggies.
Most veggies have a lot of water in them which, when frozen and then thawed, they become very soggy and mushy. If you can them, they are then only good for soups & stews where you cook the fire out of them anyway. But what if you want to use them in a stir fry or other recipe that calls for fresh vegetables? The solution is called flash-freezing and it was patented by Mr. Clarence Birdseye back in the 1920’s. Here’s how to do it at home. I usually do this with zucchini, yellow squash, onions, green pepper, avocados, and citrus. First slice the veggie into no more than 1/2”-thick slices or 1/6 wedge if freezing lemons or limes.
Then lay them out in a single layer on freezer paper that covers a tray that fits in your freezer. Do not allow them to overlap at all. I normally use the freezy-thingy that goes inside my Pampered Chef cold vegetable server. (What is that called?) Anyway, a cookie sheet will work too. If you have too many slices, you can layer them with cookie cooling racks in between. Just be sure that you allow enough room for air to circulate between the layers.
Here’s a very important part. Freeze them for absolutely no more than one hour. I set my timer on the microwave for 55 minutes so I don’t go past. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done this and when the timer goes off, I think “What’s cooking? Oh yeah!” I get so busy doing other things I totally forget that there’s magic going on in my freezer so a timer is an absolute must.
Immediately after removing from the freezer, seal in airtight bags. If you only have zipper bags, that will work but won’t keep as long. If you use zipper bags, be sure to “burp” as much air out of them as you can. This will prevent freezer crystals from forming.
If sealed in the airtight bags, these will keep for months – better than the ones you buy in bags at the store actually. And when you defrost them to use in a recipe, they will taste and feel as fresh as if you just cut them!