Make summer produce deals last all year

June 1, 2009 10:08:58 AM PDT
Summer means great deals on produce at grocery stores and farm stands. And if you know the proper techniques for freezing food, you can make those deals really last.

Mandel Smith, a nutrition educator with the Penn State Extension Service for Montgomery County, says you can freeze the blueberries, corn and strawberries that are abundant at farm stands right now. So, you can buy things in bulk and have them ready for Winter.

She says some produce, like lettuce, celery and tomatoes, which have a high water content, don't lend themselves to freezing. But just about everything else does.

Blueberries are the easiest. Check them for stems and leaves and dump them into a freezer bag.

Smith says, " You want to make sure that your bags are freezer bags because they're heavier plastic. Storage bags don't work as well. "

Don't wash blueberries until you're ready to use them. Strawberries, you'll want to wash before you freeze. And you freeze them by laying them out on a cookie sheet. After they're frozen, you can transfer them to a bag.

Vegetables, including corn and string beans, need to be blanched before freezing. Blanching means boiling them for a few minutes, and then dunking them in cold water to stop the cooking process.

Smith says blanching is essential to preserve the vitamin content, color and flavor of vegetables.

If you want to freeze peaches or nectarines, cut them up and then freeze them in a syrup made from one cup of sugar and a quart of water.

Click here for the Montgomery County Extension Service's Food and Nutrition page. You can download a list of local farmer's markets and other advice for food preservation.

If you live outside of Montgomery County, try these links:
Pennsylvania Extension offices
New Jersey Extension Service offices
Delaware Extension offices

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