WHAT’S IN YOUR FREEZER? Or should I say freezers, because here I fill two, and am well into the second one already. Tomato- and herb-based concoctions took up all the room in Freezer 1; applesauce and pureed winter squash are quickly populating Number 2. A roundup of harvest-stashing recipes and other tips:
Of course, tomato sauce (though only about half of the usual haul thanks to endless disease issues in a wet year) got first attention, as each batch ripened on the mudroom windowsill. (I picked them slightly upripe to try to beat the chipmunks.) I make sauce, and also a last-ditch vat of Tomato Junk (my waste-not, want-not catchall with tomatoes and whatever else is around, my basic soup, chili and stew starter).
Though some herbs stand up through the first frosts (like parsley and sage), I’m packing them away now in various forms in the freezer (that’s what all those plastic bags are: herb stashes, usually as cubes or dense rolls of leaves I can slice off chunks of later. My tactic.
My herb-freezing career began with garlickly green ice cubes of traditional sweet-basil pesto, like the ones above. I make eight ice-cube trays full.
I could keep winter squash around in storage here in the house for months, and I will with some of the most beautiful fruits. But I bake a lot of them now, cut in half or smaller on rimmed cookie pans, skin side up, and when the flesh is tender then puree and freeze it, meaning I’m more inclined to grab a portion for supper than if I have to start from scratch that night. Pureed squash is also great in soups and even on pasta or brown rice, or at least here it is.
(Question: I have a bumper sweet-potato crop; anybody ever mashed and frozen those?)
Gooey green-tomato mincemeat (which also used for chutney) is something I normally hot-pack in jars, but I am going to experiment with a frozen batch with some of the unripe tomatoes and my apples.
Speaking of apples, every large pot around here that was in service to tomato sauce is now bubbling with pale-pink goodness, a year of breakfasts for me (or a great ingredient for sweetening baked goods). My superfast method.
I wonder if I win the prize for most-colorful (or most overpacked?) freezer. Any competition out there? What’s in your freezer?
My vote is for most organized. My chest freezer is small and therefore gets stacked to the gills with all manner of baggies and cartons. I really need a system for organization, otherwise I’m rummaging for several minutes looking for – whatever! I’m of the waste-not-want-not lot, too. I can’t bear to throw anything away so into ice cube trays it goes only to be used in a meal later.
And I have frozen sweet potatoes, but only as a parbaked pie. The consistency is just fine upon baking.
You’re so far ahead of me. I still have bags of frozen tomatoes hogging my freezers, waiting to be thawed and turned into sauce. I like to wait until they’re all in, before I start. The freezing makes the skins slip right off and it doesn’t seem to lessen the flavor.
I didn’t think I’d have to pick the herbs this early, but it’s cold out there this morning.
Ah, my freezer is full of pork right now. This year I grew animals much better than vegetables.
Welcome, Marie. Freezing tomatoes whole is a great, fast way to keep up with the onslaught, so at least you did that. Yes, it is cold here, too: 32 forecast tomorrow night. Uh-oh.
@MiSchelle: Thanks for the sweet-potato feedback. I store them as best I can, but it can be tricky to make them last as long as it takes me to eat all of them.
@April: And when you open the door of the freezer, does it say, “Oink!” ? Just checking. :)
That is a very full freezer. Mine is full of green beans, shredded zucchini and broccoli. In my case, its the pantry that is full to the gills with all the jars of tomato products, pickles, jams and jellies. The blight got my tomatoes as well this year, so I’m cherishing anything I do get.
I have frozen pureed sweet potatoes, or yams, in ice cube trays many times. We called it baby food, but it was still plenty tasty for grown-ups. No really change in texture or taste as far as I am concerned.
Welcome, Erin. Thanks for the tip. Yes, baby food is fine with me…comforting (applesauce, pureed squash, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes…all fine with me. See you soon again, I hope.
tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes. Shredded zucchini, blanched yellow squash, green beans, peaches (I don’t grow them–went picking), a little blanched kale. So far.
I keep track and write it all down in a notebook, then cross things off as I pull them out. That reminds me of what’s available for Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year’s dinners–esp. important this year, as my yellow squash plants had a bad attitude and didn’t produce much.
Margaret, you are absolutely inspiring! I hope to get lots of basil into the freezer this weekend. I just process it with olive oil and freeze it into cubes too. I’m hoping to do something with the tomatoes. Ours were so late and there weren’t many, but I should be able to freeze a few bags of whole ones to throw into dishes over the winter. I have five kids so we eat a lot of what we grow when it’s fresh. I need to work on increasing the volume next year in my very small space.
Margaret, from looking into your refrigerator, and reading your blog, I have come to the conclusion that MARGARET ROACH is a bit Swiss family Robinson, meets Gilligan’s Island, meets Little House on the Praire, meets hippie-earth mother, meets TASHA TUDOR. ALL of these facets under the cloak of an author, New York City corporate executive, and editor…INTERESTING!!!!!!!!!!!
@Fred: Haha. Yes, a mix for certain. Thanks for your fun comment.
I love the idea of pesto cubes. I have always frozen pesto in small bags, my “bricks”, which are enough for one pasta for 4, but to have smaller amounts for winter veggies would be great. Getting that smell in the middle of winter is wonderful! Thanks for the tip.
Hi Margaret…You win the prize for the most stocked freezer but we are possibly a long-shot second. Our favorite Love Soup (Roasted tomato-basil) is set up in quart containers, just awaiting defrosting, a quick heat-up & that hint of cream on the first really crisp Fall day. Basil abounds in our garden so packets of all kinds of pesto line the freezer door. (We love pesto made with ‘ruffles’ and thai basil varieties!) Jersey silver queen corn is frozen into packets of 3 each (or 36 ears worth!) for roasted corn quiche, corn chowder or real-corn muffins anytime we like. Last but not least, Jersey blueberries are always a must for us. There’s always room for more…so we’ll keep on feeezin’ till we run out of space!
is it fair to post a freezer full of ripe toms, when some of us have nothing but tons of green! here in Maine, hope of red is fading fast.
Welcome, Dianne. I lost about half my plants, but some paste tomatoes made it. I don’t mean to gloat; I do feel very lucky, as I have said various times, and grateful. But I also need to remember that many people in other areas didn’t have the hell we did in the Northeast this year (and mid-Atlantic). Anyhow, those are y excuses. :) See you soon again I hope.
Love your letters, I live alone and have filled the freezer at the bottom of my refrigerator plus a large upright freezer. I have refrigerator pickles, tomato sauce, quarts (divided into 1 cup baggies) of “you pick” blueberries, bags of parsley leaves and basil leaves, and quite a bit of grass fed beef from the local farmers market and buffalo meat from South Dakota. I also have canned dozens of quarts of tomatoes, blueberries, apple sauce and pickles as there was no more freezer room! Such fun. Will be wonderful this winter!
Welcome, Carole. Sounds like we are kindred spirits. :) Other than elderberry jam (the juice is in the freezer awaiting processing and canning) I did mostly freezing this year. Hope to see you again soon, and thanks again for the kind words.
You have those lovely crabapples in this week’s post. If they’re edible, try mixing your elderberry juice half-and-half with crabapple juice for an awesome jelly, the most beautiful color.
In my freezer (I wish freezers!) I have frozen apples, peaches and cherries that will all be eventually turned into homemade pies :)
Sweet potatoes keep an amazingly long timedry and at room temperature. They don’t keep so well in the cold cellar where you keep squash. Just toss them in cardboard boxes in a cupboard, a closet or under a bed.
Good article….I started to use my freezer for frozen vegetable which I do my self..some times i use blanching but from 1-2 weeks i can use then directly to froze them. Froze tomato is a new concept for me but I think it will be useful.