Wednesday, September 8, 2010

freezing food for winter



I am very interested in preserving some of our garden produce for winter, but canning much just didn't work out this year. We did make a few batches of jam here and there, but oh my goodness, canning is just a lot of work, isn't it? Easy, yes, but very time consuming. Hats off to all of you who can do a lot of canning and involve the children, but I'm just not at that level yet. Rather, I'm inclined to make jam at night when they are asleep, which means that I'm tired too.

So I decided to look into freezing a bit more. We don't have a big freezer, but we do have some freezer space. Doesn't it make sense to use it for home grown produce? To me it makes a lot of sense. We have a ton of tomatoes, so I decided to start with that.
I googled instructions, and found out that it is super easy. All you do is dip the tomatoes into a pot of boiling water for 1 minute, peel them, halve them, squeeze out some of the seeds (there will still be plenty of seeds in there, but you can get out some by squeezing), and then freeze. They'll be good for homemade tomato sauce and anywhere you'd use canned tomatoes. I'm excited about this and have put up two big batches so far. It feels really frugal and homesteady. Love that feeling.
Tomatoes in a jar are nice, but using these ziplock bags is much more practical for my freezer. I have some jars of pesto in there too, and I plan to freeze some grated zucchini too, for zucchini bread in winter. I love observing the seasons this way. Yes, the winters here are mild, but we really do have a particular growing season and the plants will die back with the first freeze, so I feel good about that. I long for four seasons and have to observe them any way I can.

10 comments:

doctormama said...

We have a chest freezer in our detached garage (in Northern Minnesota). It is fantastic, until I have to clomp out there in my snowboots and bathrobe to collect the frozen peaches for pancakes.

Last year I started drying tomatoes. We have an awesome dehydrator that does such a fabulous job. I slice the tomatoes into thin slices, stick them on the trays and make my merry way into bed. In the morning I turn it off, and put the dried tomatoes into a canning jar, just waiting for homemade sauce or pizza to adorn.

Mary Beth said...

That dehydrator does look awesome. Would love to hear more about how dehydrating works out for you. Do you use it for fruits as well?? We have tons of fruit that all comes due at the same time.

nicole said...

I roasted big pans of tomatoes (drizzled with olive oil, a handful of garlic cloves and a dash of s&p). When the roasting is done I either A) pour the whole pan into a ziplock bag and freeze it or B) puree the whole lot and then freeze in ziplock bags. I also freeze that bags on a cookie sheet until solid and then line up the bags in my tiny freezer for a yummy pasta dinner come winter.

Bec said...

I know what oyu mean about preserving being a bit of a pain. I too do this sort of thing alone but then often put it off because I'm tired. I would love to have a dehydrator and have heard many good reports. Winter here has been a bit of a shock to us as we have really missed the fresh produce for what seems long far too long.

Andrea said...

We just got a chest freezer (our fridge freezer is super tiny) and I'm excited to preserve some tomatoes/tomato sauce for the winter, so we have to buy fewer (maybe no) cans. I'm with you...I like to make jam (at night or when the kids are otherwise occupied), but other types of canning holds no appeal for me (plus the botulism thing freaks me out). Great idea with the zucchini--I have two in my fridge right now and they are not very popular with the masses. Do you need to blanch or cook grated zucchini before you freeze it?

Mary Beth said...

Andrea--I just grate the zucchini, squeeze out some of the liquid, and freeze in a ziplock bag. Zucchini does have a ton of water in it, so you might want to give it another squeeze upon thawing. Then just bake it into your recipe.

Joy said...

It looks great. We tend to freeze mostly the same produce, along with strawberries and blueberries, but those were earlier in the summer. I do can jam, generally during Finn's naptime. ;) I mentioned you on my blog today during a Q&A as an inspirational blog. Just wanted to let you know!

Denise C. said...

What a great idea! Nicole- I love, love, love the idea of roasting tomatoes, & freezing them! :)

Mary Beth- as always great post, awesome photos! I adore that jar with the white cap on there. Is it a type of Mason jar?

Mary Beth said...

Denise C.--it's a regular canning jar (the pint size) with a plastic lid. I love using the plastic lid for food storage rather than the 2 piece canning lids. The plastic lids are widely available wherever canning supplies are sold. Here's a link so you can see what they are:

http://www.amazon.com/Jarden-1440036010-Ball-Plastic-Canning/dp/B0000BYC4B/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1284161340&sr=8-2-spell

Denise C. said...

Thanks Mary Beth! I like the one piece tops as well! :)