Growing food is interesting, a learning moment, fun and challenging all at the same time. Something you have to take into consideration when planting a garden or buying from a farmer's market is consumption. If you grow or buy more than you can consume, it is most likely going to go to waste.
This means that you must plan to be able to handle any excess foods. There are two methods that come to mind very quickly. You can freeze the food or use the process of "canning" the food. We will talk about freezing today. The "canning" process will be addressed in a future week of the blog.
I will mention right now that you need a freezer to put the food in for freezing food. You have a freezer that is part of your refrigerator. The question becomes whether this freezer is big enough to hold the extra frozen food. If not, you may need to buy a separate freezer. You can get a chest or upright freezer. It just depends on which will work best for your situation. Chest freezers tend to be a little less expensive but at times harder to get at what you want quickly. Space is always a consideration in the purchase too. The nice thing about freezers is that they usually last a very long time. I've had my upright freezer since 1975 and it works as good as new. It doesn't look as good as new but function trumps looks in a freezer.
Now, if you have a garden or are buying from a farmer's market, what do you need to do to the foods you want to freeze? Some items such as peas and green beans need to be washed and picked over to get rid of any bad ones. The beans need to have their ends cut off, at minimum the end attached to the plant. They then need to be blanched before going in a good freezer container. To blanch them, heat water to boiling and drop the product into the boiling water for one to two minutes. Remove from the water and place into a ice water bath to stop the cooking process. This blanching helps bring out the bright color of the peas or beans. You can place into zip-lock freezer bags or plastic containers with lids. If using freezer bags, they can be flattened out so that you can stack them in the freezer. This helps save space.
I freeze my peppers-whole, all kinds. I just wash and let them dry. Then I place them on a sheet pan, make sure they are not touching each other, and put it in the freezer. After two or three hours I take the peppers and place them in zip-lock freezer bags. This process is called IQF (individually quick frozen) and then when you need a pepper or two for some recipe, just reach in the bag and pull one or two out.
I freeze some of my tomatoes, but can most. The ones I freeze I put in zip-lock freezer bags. First I wash and core the tomatoes. Depending on the size, I will then quarter or halve the tomatoes and put them in a zip-lock freeze bag. Again, I lay them out in the freeze so they can be stacked to save space. When I pull them out to use, I'll put them in a bowl or dish to thaw in the refrigerator. I haven't skinned them yet but once they thaw the skins come off fairly easy.
I haven't invested in one of those systems that suck all the air out and prolong the life of the food. It might be something you want to look into for your situation. If you do, remember that my favorite shopping places Kohl's, Food Network and QVC have these and storage containers too.
Tomorrow's recipe is for homemade spaghetti sauce (both marinara and vodka). This I freeze in freezer containers for future meals. Have a good weekend and please let me know if there is anything you would like me to cover in a future blog.