As of today, my garden has rendered a great harvest, more than enough for my husband and I. I have been doing research and I am trying several methods to “preserve” my summer harvest.
All fruits and vegetables have enzymes and bacteria that can destroy the nutrients, change the color and texture of the food. Blanching is a heat treatment that will destroy these enzymes.
My first harvest I tried the blanch then freeze method. Although not difficult, it did take most of an evening to complete the process for all my squash and peppers. Do not allow the vegetables to sit on the counter more than 24 hours before blanching them.
Blanch freeze method
I picked the vegetables once the color was uniform.
Thoroughly wash the vegetables. Although I used no chemicals or pesticides whatsoever in my garden, I still use a small, gentle vegetable brush to clean the skin.
I sliced the squash, approximately 1/4″ in thickness.
Bring 3 quarts of water to a rolling boil.
Drop in the slices of squash. Allow them to boil for 3 minutes.
Using a spider, I removed the squash from the boiling water and placed in another bowl of ice water.
Cool the squash for 5 minutes.
Drain the squash and place individual slices on paper towels or kitchen towels to dry.
Once patted dry, place in an air tight zip lock bag or vacuumed sealed bag. Freeze.
I have an abundance of banana peppers! When picked at the peak of ripeness, they are at their height of sweetness. Banana peppers AND bell peppers can be frozen WITHOUT blanching, according to the farmer’s almanac. Banana peppers are great in salads, on hamburgers or any recipe that calls for bell peppers.
Place the exposed skins flat on a paper towel lined sheet pan and place in the freezer. Once frozen, place peppers in an air tight zip lock bag or a vacuumed sealed bag.
It is possible to freeze tomatoes without having to par cook them, peel them or slice them; however, it is recommended these tomatoes only be used in sauces, soups and stews as they will be mushy when removed from the freezer.
Wash the tomatoes.
After washing, cut away the stem scar and surrounding area and discard it.
Dry them by blotting with a clean cloth or paper towels.
Place the tomatoes on cookie sheets and freeze. Tomatoes do not need to be blanched before freezing.
Once frozen, remove the tomatoes and place in zip lock air tight bags or vacuumed sealed bags.
To use the frozen tomatoes, remove them from the freezer a few at a time or all at once. To peel, just run a frozen tomato under warm water in the kitchen sink. Its skin will slip off easily. I plan to use my when make tomato based pasta sauces.