Farmer’s markets, home gardens, a friendly neighbor’s garden, county fairs, farm stands, or your local produce store: these are the reasons why there is an abundance of fruits and vegetables in my patient’s homes during the summer months in New Jersey. We stock up on the farm market deals!
However, as fall approaches, we are running out of time to consume all of these good finds. Have you ever found your fruits and vegetables to spoil before you had time to use them? What a waste!
Here are some general guidelines about how to preserve those delicious and nutritious additions to our days.
- “Freezing fruits and vegetables will retard the growth of bacteria, molds, and yeasts. However, once thawed, the microorganisms may continue to grow.” Therefore, save your favorites before they sit out for a week or two. Your fruits and vegetables will last longer, and continue to taste great! According to the National Center for the Home Food Preservation, fruits and vegetables can be stored in the freezer up to 8-12 months.
- “You must blanch vegetables prior to freezing to prevent enzyme activity loss. This will cause some nutrient loss, but not as much as results from not blanching the vegetables before freezing.” Always follow recommended blanching times, for this can cause loss of flavor.
- Should you put the fruit or vegetable directly in the freezer? Absolutely not! Foods that are not packaged properly in the freezer can become dry or tough, which can lead to off flavors. Use moisture vapor-proof or resistant packaging, glass jars, plastic freezing containers, heavy-weight aluminum foil, plastic-coated freezer paper, and plastic wrap. This will help prevent moisture from escaping from the food (helping to prevent freezer burn!)
Above are the reasons why…but what is the how? How do we freeze fruits and vegetables?
- Freeze vegetables ASAP. You can freeze them after picking, when they are at the prime of their ripeness. Be sure to research specific guidelines on how to blanch each specific vegetable, for vegetables must be blanched before being frozen. You can find how to freeze your favorite vegetable here: http://www.nutrition411.com/content/freezing-fruits-and-vegetables-tips-and-tricks
- Freeze fruit ASAP. Wash the fruit, pare and remove pits, seeds, and blemishes. Ascorbic acid can be helpful on fruit that is more likely to turn brown (for example, apples). Flavor is most preserved when sweetening is used.
It’s the end of the summer, but you still have a kitchen stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables. Do you have to eat all of them in a few days in order to prevent them from going to waste? OF COURSE NOT. Freeze them properly, and you will be able to enjoy those summer fruits and vegetables up to 12 months AFTER the season concludes!
Want more tips? Ideas? Suggestions? Recipes? Contact one of our dietitians today to schedule an appointment for a consult! Let us do the research for you to help you get health. Call now: 609-738-3143.
Michele Wroblewski, RDN
Caruso Physical Therapy and Nutrition, LLC
1278 Yardville Allentown Rd. Suite 3
Allentown, NJ 08501
How do I?…freeze. National Center for Home Food Preservation Web site. http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/freeze.html. Accessed September 19, 2016.
How to freeze 16 fruits and vegetables. EatingWell Web site. http://www.eatingwell.com/healthy_cooking/healthy_cooking_101_basics_techniques/kitchen_tips_techniques/how_to_freeze_16_fruits_and_vegetables. Accessed September 19, 2016.
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Freezing: Fruits and Vegetables. http://www.extension.iastate.edu/publications/PM1045.pdf. Revised July 2011. Accessed September 19, 2016.