Freezing fruit and vegetables is a great way to make sure you always have ingredients to hand, and while there is no substitute for fresh produce from the farmers market, freezing fruits and vegetables is a great way to make sure you always have ingredients for soups and casseroles to hand.
Freezing food does affect the nutritional value, but having frozen fruit and vegetables on your plate is certainly better than having none at all. Frozen vegetables will lose some of their texture and flavour, and so you might not be able to use them in salads, or to roast in the oven, but they can be thrown into dishes, mixed with pasta, rice and couscous.
Frozen fruit is great to have at hand for smoothies, especially berries. Frozen strawberries, raspberries and blackcurrants make a great alternative to ice in a summer drink, iceed water or cocktail.
What fruits and vegetables freeze well?
You can freeze just about any kind of fruit or vegetable, but some fare better than others. Here are the best vegetables to freeze:
Do vegetables need to be blanched before freezing?
Blanching helps vegetables retain their flavour and texture once frozen. To blanch vegetables simply clean and chop as normal, and immerse in salted boiling water for two to three minutes. Keep vegetables in uniform size and blanch only one type of vegetable in the water at a time, as different vegetables blanch at different rates. To stop the cooking process simply plunge the blanched vegetables into cold water. Allow to cool completely before bagging and putting in the freezer.
There is no need to blanch fruit and most of it is eaten raw anyway. You can freeze all vegetables raw but some, such as carrots, will lose their crispness once defrosted. Vegetables can be cooked straight from frozen by simply placing the frozen vegetables in boiling water.
Vegetables with high water content such as cucumber and radish will tend to be a bit mushy once they are defrosted, so avoid freezing them if possible. Other foods that don’t freeze well are soft cheese like brie or camembert, eggs, and fully cooked rice, and potatoes will not freeze well as they will turn brown.
Can you freeze mashed potatoes?
There’s no reason why you can’t. Although the colour of your mashed potatoes may be affected, once the mashed potatoes are reheated it will be perfectly creamy and taste quite good.
What is the best way to freeze mashed potatoes?
To freeze mashed potatoes, separate them into smaller portions no bigger than the size of a billiard ball. If you freeze your mashed potatoes as a single block it will take forever to defrost, which sort of defeats the purpose of having ready-made mash on hand.
What’s the best way to freeze vegetables and fruits?
Make sure you use a clean freezer-proof container. Glass containers are not recommended as they can break under extremely cold temperatures. A freezer bag works best, as they are designed for the purpose. It is also a good idea to use a baking tray to freeze your veg in a single layer on grease-proof paper. This works especially well for leafy greens, and stops them from sticking together so you can use what you need rather than having to contend with a full block of frozen kale.
Can I freeze herbs?
Yes, herbs can be frozen, and while they will lose some of their potency, the fact that you can have seasonal herbs at hand all year round means it’s well worth freezing herbs when they are in season and you have more than you can use.
How to freeze herbs
Remove the stalks and leaves from the herbs and place on baking paper laid down on a tray and place them in the freezer. When the leaves are frozen, remove and place in freezer bags and return to the freezer until you need them.
Can I freeze stock?
Freezing stock is a great way to use up your kitchen scraps and ensure you have a good homemade stock for any recipe you need. Keep all your vegetable trimmings, as well as your meat scraps and bones, and turn them into delicious, rich, flavour-carrying stock, reduce and then transfer to an ice cube tray in your freezer. If a recipe calls for the addition of stock just pop out the frozen stock cubes.
Make the Most of Your Frozen Vegetables
After vegetables have been frozen awhile and then thawed, it can be tempting to return to the same recipes as the ingredients were used for previously. But just because your ingredients are frozen doesn’t mean you can’t experiment and try some new recipes. Chef Kezia Kristel’s potato and pumpkin dauphinoise with pan-roasted toothfish is ideal for using leftover pumpkin and potato slices to create a wonderful main course. Or, if you’re needing to make dinner in a pinch, this Chinese vegetables with baby sweetcorn recipe can make use of loads of your freezer’s vegetable supply, all while tasting great atop rice or Asian noodles. Sometimes though, you might just want a good dose of comfort food, like this chicken gumbo with corn, beans, and banana, a colourful and stylish way to find your frozen vegetables forming a delicious, filling dish.
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