The Foodie


The Foodie: Freezing Summertime Favorites

September 18, 2008
by Isabel Cowles
There is something sad about saying goodbye to the last of the summer produce—perfectly fresh peaches or plums, abundant corn and tomatoes. Fortunately, many summertime foods freeze well; buy them now and continue to enjoy them through fall and winter.

The Basics of Freezing

Before you decide to freeze specific foods, be aware of some general food freezing guidelines. Not all foods freeze successfully and not all freezing techniques work successfully. It’s essential to choose the right storage containers and wrap the food you plan to freeze properly.

To get more elaborate with the process, try blanching vegetables or making fruit packs. Both methods intensify the flavors of your produce as the months go by. Visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation for basic instructions for freezing most foods. Then see a special section dedicated to summer foods, called“Freezing Summer’s Bounty” for seasonal specifics.

Freezing Summer’s Best

Few things are as reminiscent of American summers as corn on the cob. If you plan ahead, you can enjoy corn’s golden kernels even after the fields have been mowed and the last fresh ears have been sold. The same is true of late summer broccoli; eggplant; tomatoes; as well as peaches, nectarines and plums. You can find most of these items in your grocery store freezer in February and March, but the produce you pick and freeze at the peak of ripeness will taste far superior. Pick Your Own, a site dedicated to supporting regional farmers across the U.S., offers step-by-step illustrated instructions and tips on freezing the most popular summer fruits, vegetables and herbs. The site also includes a directory of farms across the country; there’s still time to find a field or orchard near you and reap the benefits of this summer’s harvest.

Inside the Freezer

The “Cook’s Illustrated” test kitchen is a great source of food advice from real-life food experimenters. Editors and cooks at the publication tested a variety of fruits and vegetables and reported on the results. Find out what blanching times were used for each item and which fruits and vegetables were most successful at retaining their flavor. The spread also illustrates the mechanics of a home freezer, pointing out some of the coldest spots and how to maximize airflow and balance temperature.

What to Freeze and How to Thaw

While tougher fruits and vegetables can stand up to the freezing and thawing process, others should never be frozen. According to Cheri Sicard at, “Some foods just don’t do well in the freezer. Vegetables with high moisture contents like lettuces, celery and cucumbers will thaw limper than a rag doll.” In addition to discussing how to freeze unexpected items like cheese or eggs from your local farmers market, Sicard also instructs readers on how to thaw food—a key part of the freezing process.

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