Did you know that freezing vegetables is one of the easiest ways to preserve the harvest for winter eating? Let me show you how to freeze vegetables from your garden as a quick and simple method of home food preservation!
I first started preserving food just after my man and I were married. I had many ambitions wrapped up in that heart of mine, and wanted to be a wonderful little homemaker who was thrifty, frugal and could put a good spread on the table.
Having grown up with mum who canned her own produce, I naturally attempted to start canning on my own. The first time I saw rows of filled jars on the pantry shelf, I fell in love! So I set my sights on canning nearly all our vegetables.
And the freezer? Well, it was just there as a backup. I didn’t want to use it if I didn’t have to!
After a while, I couldn’t help but notice there were particular vegetables that held their fresh flavor better in the freezer. I liked this. And when I realized that lots of frozen vegetables retained their vitamins and nutrients better than canned food for the first 4-6 months, I started freezing more. And more.
Things have changed. I no longer turn up my nose at freezer preserving. Like all the other methods of putting food by for winter, freezing now has an important place in my preserving efforts.
And I’m going to show you how to freeze vegetables from your garden, so you can easily preserve your vegetables for winter eating!
List of Vegetables That Are Easy to Freeze
Here’s a list of common vegetables that preserve well in the freezer and maintain their flavor.
- brussel sprouts
- green beans
- peas (shelled or snap)
- peppers (hot or sweet)
- potatoes (regular or sweet)
- winter squash
You might be wondering why beets didn’t make the list? Well, I’m not a fan of frozen beets. The flavor tends to leach out during the cooking process, so I prefer to pickle beets or preserve them in cold storage (I teach you how to overwinter raw beets HERE).
Oh and FIY? There are a few other lesser known vegetables you can freeze that aren’t included on this list. I just gave you the primary ones!
List of Vegetables That Should Not Be Frozen
There are a few vegetables that don’t freeze well and are better consumed fresh or preserved in another manner.
The list includes cabbage, celery, cucumbers, endive, lettuce and radishes.
These foods tend to go mushy and weepy in the freezer, so they’re best left out. The only exception I’ve found is cabbage. You can add cabbage to a sauce or soup, it’ll come through the freezer in decent condition.
Watch my Tutorial
Broccoli is one of the vegetables that really isn’t suited for home canning (either water bath or pressure canning). In this video tutorial, I teach you how to prepare broccoli for the freezer, so it lasts a long time!
Tools You’ll Need
You really don’t need much to freeze your home grown vegetables. But here’s a list for you to look over.
- a freezer (preferably a chest or upright freezer)
- scrub brush for cleaning vegetables
- cutting board
- stockpot and colander (if blanching is required)
- 1 gallon freezer bags
- 1 quart freezer bags
- sharpie for labeling
- my digital book and charts for specific directions
If you don’t like messing with zip loc bags, you can also look into purchase a vacuum sealer. They’re easy to use, will quickly remove all oxygen from your bags and as a result, your vegetables will last longer in the freezer.
I don’t yet own one, but it’s certainly on my “to buy” list!
How to Freeze Vegetables from Your Garden
How to Harvest Your Vegetables
For maximum flavor (and to save yourself from the heat), it’s usually best to harvest your ripe and ready vegetables in the morning, before the sun’s heat becomes too much. Grab a basket, your favorite pair of pruning shears or scissors (if needed) and go see what treasures the garden holds for you!
Tip: Once you start harvesting, you may be tempted to pick every bit of your crop, just to complete the task. But before you do, make sure you have enough time in your day to put up all that food. If not, leave it in the garden or be sure to refrigerate the extras to keep them fresh.
How to Prepare Your Vegetables for Freezing
Not all vegetables are prepared for the freezer in the same way. I can’t possible cover each type here, and that’s why I recommend you grab my eBook and charts that outline how to freeze all the different vegetables.
For now, let me give you an overview of the preparation process.
- If present, remove husks from your vegetables (corn, ground cherries, tomatillos, etc).
- Rinse your vegetables clean at the kitchen sink.
- With root vegetables, be sure to use a scrub brush to remove dirt from crevices.
- Trim up vegetables and cut to size.
- Vegetables that don’t required blanching can be bagged in meal size portions.
- Vegetables that require blanching or cooking should be processed, cooled and bagged.
How to Bag Vegetables for Freezing
Whenever I put up my vegetables in zip loc bags, I like to remove as much air as possible. Some day, I’ll get a vacuum sealer. But for now, I use a straw to remove as much oxygen as I can.
Remember: less oxygen in the bag means vegetables will last longer in the freezer! Here’s how it works.
- Fill your bags with meal (or recipe) size portions.
- Lie bags on their sides and spread vegetables out in an even layer.
- Zip most of the bag closed but leave a tiny, 1-2 inch corner open.
- Slip a plastic or stainless steel straw into the open corner.
- Close the bag’s mouth around the straw and pinch down on either side to prevent air from moving through.
- Using the straw, suck all the air out of your zip lock bag.
- Quickly remove the straw and seal your bag’s locking system behind it.
Bags can then be labeled with the vegetable’s name and date.
Tips for Freezing Vegetables
Once your vegetables are ready to be placed in the freezer, here are a few tips that will help you speed the freezing process, maximize space and keep things organized.
Tip 1: Make sure bags are lying flat on their sides-don’t stack your freezer bags in the upright position. The freezer zip lock bags I recommended above hold their seal well, so don’t be afraid to lay bags out on their sides, so they’ll stack well once frozen.
Tip 2: Spread Bags Out for Faster Freezing-while it’s nice to stack your bags in a box, spreading things out in a single layer will result in vegetables that freezer faster. You can box them up later.
Tip 3: Stack frozen vegetables in a box or crate so they’re easy to find-it’s not hard to lose your vegetables among the many packages in your freezer. So once your vegetables are frozen, I recommend stacking the different types in a cardboard box with handles or milk crate so you know exactly where they are.
You can get a set of 3 black milk crates HERE
How to Freeze Vegetables Chart
If you’re interested in learning how to freeze vegetables from your garden, I recommend grabbing my free chart (see form below).
I wanted to make freezing vegetables easy, and this free gift will certainly do that for you! No more pulling out the phone or computer when you are uncertain about blanching times and are wondering how to prepare a certain type of vegetable for the freezer.
It’s all waiting for you in one place.
FAQ on Freezing Home Grown Vegetables
What is the Process of Blanching?
Blanching is a heating process that helps deactivate enzymes in your home grown vegetables. To blanch vegetables, you simply plunge them into boiling water for 1-4 minutes to lightly cook the outsides (my free chart above will give you directions for each type). This accomplished, they are immediately cooled in ice water and bagged for freezing shortly later.
Why Do You Blanch Vegetables Before Freezing?
Not all vegetables require blanching but in most cases, you’ll get better results if you first blanch them before freezing.
All raw vegetables contain enzymes. Enzymes are partially responsible for the decay that sets in when a vegetable falls off the vine (or sit in the ground for too long). They help vegetables rot and return to feed the soil in your garden.
In nature, enzymes are a positive thing.
But you don’t want enzymes working on your food as it sits in the freezer! So to help preserve your frozen vegetables for longer, we first blanch them so the freezer can better slow the action of enzymes.
Can You Freeze Vegetables Without Blanching Them?
There are some vegetables you can freeze without first blanching them. But most of the time, you can only keep these vegetables in the freezer for 3-4 months before enzymes start ruining the flavor and texture.
The only exception I can think of would be tomatoes, green beans and garlic.
If you want to keep your vegetables in the freezer for more than 6 months, blanching (or cooking) is usually a wise idea.
How Long Can You Have Vegetables in the Freezer?
If you properly prepare your vegetables and freeze them in sturdy bags, most types should last up to 12 months. After this, they may start losing their texture and flavor.
List of Ways to Use Frozen Vegetables
Once you have vegetables sitting in the freezer, you need to remember to use them! If you’ve never before done any preserving, it’s a habit you’ll have to form.
Here are some ways to use frozen vegetables.
- As a hot side dish (just remember they’ve already been partially cooked)
- Chicken Pot Pie
- Shepherd’s Pie
- Stir fry
- In desserts (as with carrot or pumpkin pie)
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