Freezing foods that are in season is a great way to save loads of money. If you get your produce from a backyard garden or a produce market, you will be doing yourself and your family a service by freezing fresh vegetables and fruits. It is well known that fresh produce maintains a higher nutritional value than processed produce.
Freezing foods is relatively simple. Although there are a few things you should take into consideration before you start. Become familiar with types of containers used in home freezing. Learn how to wrap food for freezing, and most important pay particular attention to storage time on foods you prepare and freeze.
There are several containers one can use. To prevent freezer burn, it is important to get as much of the air out of the container as possible. Tupperware type containers as a rule are good for most freezable food stuff. Freezer wraps and freezer bags are also good. Glass containers also work on many freezable foods. When using freezer wraps, wrap the food tightly, and it is also smart to slip that wrapped food into a freezer bag.
Blanching or steaming vegetables before freezing them will inactivate harmful enzymes. These enzymes can cause your vegetables to loss vitamins, and flavor.
Some fruits are not blanched however, but instead, ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) is used to control enzymes. Lemon juice also may be used to prevent darkening of fruits, but is not as effective as ascorbic acid. Packing fruit in sugar or sugar syrup also will help prevent browning.
Blanching also helps destroy harmful microorganisms that can be found on the surface of vegetables, and fruit. As you can surmise it is important to following the recommendations for blanching any produce you are intending to freeze. Over blanching will results in an over cooked product that will most likely lose its flavor, color, and nutrients.
To freeze fruit, wash and then cut fruit into sections. Fruits need to be steamed for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Cool before packing into a container, making sure to pack fruit in slightly tight. After the fruit has been put into the container, fill with liquid. There are two liquids that can use to complete the fruit for freezing. One unsweetened fruit pack or syrup fruit pack. The liquid you decide to use is your preference. After the fruit has cooled, you then fill the container with your choice of liquid, leaving 1/2 inch head space and then add cooled liquid leaving 1/2 inch head space. Freeze.
Recipe for Syrup:
Light syrup: 2 cups sugar, 4 cups boiling water. Stir in sugar until dissolved, remove from heat cool.
Recipe for Unsweetened Liquid:
1/2 teaspoon ascorbic acid, 1 quart boiled water cooled.
The ascorbic acid keeps the fruits color bright.
Most fruits should be eaten within 6 months after freezing date. (Please consult a freezing time chart for recommended safe length of time to store fruit you will be freezing)
Freezing vegetables are very easy. All vegetables will need to be either steamed, for small sized vegetables such as peas, beans or vegetables that become soft quickly, like celery, cucumbers and such. The other method in preparing vegetables for freezing is blanching in boiling water. Most vegetable will need to be blanched for 2-4 minutes. After the vegetables are blanched or steam blanched, plunge them into ice water, to stop the blanching process. Cool well, pack in appropriate air tight container, and freeze. Most vegetables have a storage time of 6 - 8 months. (Please check storage time chart).
If you would like to learn more about freezing food, I recommend you purchase the book, "How to Freeze: Everything You Need to Know about Freezing" by Carolyn Humphries.
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Article Added on Saturday, September 16, 2006
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