freezing garden herbs, fruit, vegetables

freezing herbs and vegetablesFORGET DIAMONDS. A freezer is a girl’s best friend. (Or a boy’s. Or anybody’s.) I freeze blueberries and peaches for offseason smoothies; all my green herbs for the year, and pestos of everything—including of garlic scapes and arugula. In go extra-thick versions of my favorite soups (dilute when reheating, but save freezer space meantime); easy vegetable stock from garden snippets; tomato and other vegetable sauces (and just whole tomatoes, right off the vine). I often freeze about one-third of my garlic and onion crops, too, rather than watch those alliums start to sprout in the cellar before next spring. A roundup of tactics to try.

One quick tip first: We open the door of the freezer section of our refrigerator over and again, day in and out. That’s bad news for things you hope will last a long time, especially delicate things like herbs in plastic freezer bags. I bought a small (about 3 cubic feet), very efficient freezer for my cellar, and I restock my upstairs freezer gradually from there–meaning the backup freezer’s door is only opened once a month or so. Some things inside it include:

  1. kathleen says:

    Thanks for the great tips on freezing peaches and herbs. I recently got an upright freezer and have been trying to save some of the extra produce I get in my weekly deliveries from SLO Veg.

  2. Perfect timing, as I need a primer on how to freeze home-grown edibles. I’ve been gardening for close to 20 years, but my husband was supposed to be the vegetable garden overseer. The fact that we’ve never had enough of a harvest to freeze anything speaks for itself. I’ve taken over! Finally got the bird netting up in time to have a real blueberry harvest this year, my first bags deposited in the freezer this past weekend. Looking forward to trying your freezer suggestions! Thanks, Margaret!

    1. margaret says:

      Hi, Kathleen. Guess I don’t have to convince you that more is better as far as freezer space!

      Nice to see you, Martha. Don’t blame me if you end up with an “extra” freezer in the cellar, too. :)

  3. Carole Clarin says:

    Yes Martha, perfect timing! My CSA is brimming with so many veggies and providing extra for sale, that it becomes challenging to find refrigerator space or use them up quick enough, so freezing is the way to go! Margaret, thanks for the tip of freezing more condensed versions of soup rather than have all that liquid take up precious space!

  4. Even with over 200 heads of garlic growing, we always have to say goodbye to the garlic scape pesto that I finally put on my blog before we are ready to – it never lasts long enough!

    I, too, am an inveterate freezer-of-produce. I can some, but the freezer is definitely my first choice. I’m never brave enough to use glass jars in there as you do – too afraid of breakage during a winter rummage to risk it.

  5. Karen Knight says:

    You are the best! Your post on freezing came with perfect timing as I decide how to best put up the bounty of the season – thank you! I love your recipes and food posts almost as much as your bird posts almost as much as your garden posts…;-)

  6. Heather Dreith says:

    I just froze the last of the kale today. There was too much to eat fresh and I had let it go in the heat a little too long anyway. I sautéed it with olive oil, garlic and rice vinegar, then popped it in freezer bags. Hope it will turn out all right. On another note, we had our first ripe tomato in our salads at lunch today!

  7. kristi says:

    We just froze sour cherries to be defrosted one pie at a time. My kids love to pit cherries (with the little kitchen gadget, of course), and who doesn’t love a summer pie in January?

    Now to read up on freezing peaches.

  8. Dd says:

    Was hoping to do the same, HOWEVER, I now have a wood church slowly eating his way through my garden! Shake away doesn’t seem to stop him. So very sad!

  9. Rita says:

    Love all the freezing tips. I just froze whole tomatomatoes. I planted cardinal flower vine bit I don’t have any red flowers.!!!!!

    1. margaret says:

      Hi, Rita. I have more vine than flower — but now (with the heat we are having, I guess) I am getting blooms. This is definitely one that’s more colorful as the season progresses, not early (at least not for me).

  10. Trixie says:

    I need to try the ice cube method for my herbs…I’ve been just freezing my Thai Basil leaves whole, but they don’t seem to hold up all that well.

    Now I’m pining away for a house so that I have enough room to buy an extra freezer!

    1. margaret says:

      Hi, Trixie. Definitely don’t do basil without the oil or a little water. (I prefer the oil.) It blackens and deteriorates otherwise in cold I feel.

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