How to freeze vegetables and fruit

August 23, 2023

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Do you make the most of your freezer? I’ve always used my freezer but it wasn’t until recently that I realized just how helpful my freezer could be. Not only does it come to my rescue when I am running around trying to get dinner made but it helps me to reduce food waste.

If you’re a busy person who dreads prepping fresh produce in the middle of the week for your dinner, keep reading because I’m going to explain how to freeze your vegetables (and fruit) ahead of time. Trust me, your freezer is about to become your BFF.    

What foods can you freeze

Not all foods are freezer friendly. Sure you can freeze just about anything but, if you do, it’s best to manage your expectations, especially when it comes to foods with a high water content. 

For instance, produce that was once crispy (peppers, cucumbers, cabbage, kale, etc.) will generally end up limp, mushy, soggy, or waterlogged once they’ve been thawed after being frozen. Most thawed produce will make a great addition to your soups, purees, or smoothies. They just don’t make the cut for that crispy summer salad you’re craving in the middle of winter. 

Foods that don’t freeze well include watercress, celery, romaine lettuce, endives, cabbage, and avocado. Note: You may also want to refrain from freezing cooked egg whites, sour cream, fully cooked pasta, mayonnaise, milk sauces, and soft cheeses. These do not thaw well leaving you with tough, rubbery, mushy, separated, or curdled defrosted foods.

The National Center for Home Food Preservation put together a great list of foods to that don’t freeze.

Freezing vegetables? 

4 tips to help your frozen goodies last longer 

  1. Freeze your produce in small portions. I learned this one the hard way. Nothing like needing a few carrots only to have to thaw all of them because you didn’t portion them correctly and they’re all stuck together. 
  2. Label and date your frozen food packages. Labeling helps you avoid the “when did I freeze this” syndrome. 
  3. Freeze produce while it’s still fresh. Best to freeze any fruits and veggies before they start to brown, go too soft, or get mushy. 
  4. Make sure to use freezer-friendly bags and air tight containers. I like to use Stasher bags as well as mason jars. But, you can also use (and reuse) Ziploc freezer bags. 

How to freeze vegetables

Blanche your veggies.

The best way to freeze your produce is by blanching it. This helps to stop enzyme actions that can cause loss of flavor, vitamins, color and texture. While not as simple as just slipping your fresh produce into a freezer-friendly bag as is, this extra step will absolutely pay off in the long run. Trust me, your taste buds and body will thank you for it later. 

How To Blanch Veggies

  1. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Add cleaned and prepped veggies to water. For instance, if you’re freezing carrots consider peeling and slicing them before blanching as opposed to unpeeled and whole. 
  2. Cook in boiling water for 1-5 minutes depending on the veggie. See graph for recommended blanching times for vegetables.
  3. Once done cooking, remove veggies from water and plunge into an ice bath, i.e. cold water with ice. Doing so helps to stop the cooking process. 
  4. Leave the veggies in the ice water for the same amount of time they were cooking in the boiling water. If the ice bath seems to be warming up, add more ice cubes.
  5. Once cooled, remove vegetables from the ice bath, thoroughly drain and set aside till ready to use. 
  6. Lay blanched veggies in a single layer on a baking sheet. Make sure to space them out so they’re not touching. Place baking sheet in freezer and freeze till veggies are frozen solid.
  7. Once frozen, remove and place veggies in a freezer-friendly bag or air-tight container. If using a bag, do your best to remove any excess air. 
  8. Seal bag/close lid and store in freezer. Don’t forget to date and label your veggies!

When ready to consume, remove the desired quantity of produce and enjoy! If this seems like a lot of effort, keep in mind you are ensuring your meals taste better as well as preventing food waste with these extra steps. Plus, when ready to use, your veggies will be fully prepped and ready to cook. No cleaning, cutting, or prepping at the last minute. 

How to freeze fruit

  1. Wash, peel, and, if applicable, slice fruit.
  2. Dip fruits that tend to easily brown such as apples, apricots, pears, pineapple, peaches, etc. slices in 3 tbsp of lemon (or lime) juice + 1 tbsp water for a few minutes. Drain well. 
  3. Lay drained fruit in a single layer on a baking sheet. Make sure to space them out so they’re not touching. 
  4. Place baking sheet in freezer and freeze till fruit is frozen solid.
  5. Once frozen, remove and place fruit in a freezer-friendly bag or air-tight container. 
  6. Seal bag/close lid and store in freezer. Make sure to remove as much air as possible before sealing as you don’t want to form ice crystals, i.e. freezer burn.  
  7. And lastly, don’t forget to date and label your fruit!

There you have it! Remember, frozen fruit is perfect for  smoothies, pies, purees, crumbles, fruit crisps, or pies.

5 Eco-Friendly Freezer Containers

  1. Stasher bags
  2. Stainless Steel containers (ex: Life without Plastic’s stainless containers)
  3. Straight-Side Wide Mouth Mason Jars such as the Wide Mouth Ball Mason Jar 
  4. Reuse your Ziploc freezer bag
  5. Caraway’s Food Storage Set

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