Cooking

How to Save Your Summer Fruits and Vegetables

Store your bounty for the colder months
How to Freeze Summer Fruits and Vegetables
Photo: Alesikka/Getty Images

The farmers' markets are bursting with the best of end-of-summer produce, whether it be plump peaches, sweet corn or juicy tomatoes. In a perfect world, we could enjoy summer's bounty all year long. Luckily, there are a few tricks to make that happen. After you've made all your jams and preserves for fall toast toppers, freeze the rest of your summer fruits for colder days when you'll need a little sunshine.

1. Corn

End-of-summer corn is both versatile and cheap, making it a great item to save for later. To store corn for breads, soups and salads, first remove the husks and the silks. Next, blanch the corn in boiling water for four minutes. Remove the corn from the boiling water and shock it in an ice bath. Next, cut the corn off the cob, scoop the kernels into a freezer bag and store flat for up to six months.

2. Berries

Unlike other fruits, berries don't ripen further once picked, so they are a great choice for freezing. They freeze easily and can be used for quick smoothies or baking down the road. To store those beautiful blackberries, first make sure they are dry and freeze them in a single layer on a lined baking pan. Once frozen, dump them into a freezer bag and store for up to six months. 

3. Tomatoes

Like corn, tomatoes are best frozen after being blanched. The blanching not only halts rotting but also removes any leftover dirt post-harvest. Drop the tomatoes into boiling water for 60 to 90 seconds, then shock in an ice bath. Remove the skins (they should peel right off) and the stems, and transfer to a freezer bag. Lay flat and store for up to six months.

4. Stone Fruits

Remove the pits (which can make the fruits bitter when stored) and cut the fruits into small pieces. Though most fruits won't oxidize when frozen, peaches will. To stop the fruits from browning, toss the pieces with either: a lemon/water bath (use a one-to-four ratio of lemon juice to water) OR with 1,000 milligrams of ascorbic acid (or a crushed vitamin C tablet) for every pound of fruit. Place the fruits in a single layer on a lined sheet pan and freeze. Once frozen, transfer to a freezer bag and store for up to six months.

5. Zucchini

Zucchini is not only one of the easiest vegetables to grow yourself in a home garden, but it's also one of the most versatile ingredients that can be frozen for later use in everything from breads, muffins and pancakes to sauces, frittatas and pastas. Chop the zucchini into smaller pieces and—you guessed it—blanch. Leave the zucchini in the boiling water for three to four minutes before shocking in an ice bath. Drain, pat dry and transfer to a freezer bag in a single layer. Lay flat and freeze for up to six months.

With any fruits and vegetables, remember to squeeze out as much air as possible from the bags to avoid freezer burn, then enjoy your bounty all year long.

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