I’ll admit…I am on a “freeze my garden veggies” kick! And for good reason. Instead of letting my excess summer bounty rot in the garden, I am preserving it for winter’s use. Isn’t that a lot like what pioneer women like Caroline Ingalls did? And far before coupons were ever available, this, along with other things like hunting, were the essence of frugality and livelihood.
In years past, I have done a fair amount of canning. I bragged to friends about having enough canned green beans to last all winter and loved to even decorate my home with my canned goods. This year though, I have transitioned to eating foods as fresh and unprocessed as possible (of course I still have some favorites that are processed). My taste pallet for and method of cooking veggies has also changed, and because of that I am transitioning to freezing most of my excess garden veggies. I mean, who wants to pay for frozen veggies in the winter when you can make them yourself in the summer, right? This week, I made a stir fry veggie mix and wanted to share it with you. There really isn’t a recipe or any measuring, simply a bunch of fresh vegetables from my garden. Here’s what I had:
Stir Fry Vegetable Mix
- Green Beans
And here’s the steps to making your own:
Step 1: Gather your veggies.
You can pull your own from the garden, shop at the local farmers’ market, or find them at the grocery store. Clean and trim your veggies and cut them to your preferred size.
Step 2: Blanch your veggies.
Blanching is the process of briefly cooking your veggies in boiling water to kill the enzymes. I generally blanch for about 2 minutes. Blanching also improves the color of your veggies when you freeze them.
Step 3: Cool your veggies.
After blanching it’s important to cool the veggies to stop them from cooking. If you blanch for 2 minutes, cool in ice water for 2 minutes.
Step 4: Pat dry your veggies.
I laid my veggies out on a towel and gently patted them dry. The less moisture on your vegetables, the better it will freeze. Aren’t the colors great?
Step 5: Freeze your veggies.
Then I put my veggies on cookie sheets and flash froze them in a single layer. While 8 hours isn’t necessary, I generally let them freeze overnight as I usually do this kind of project after the kids go to bed at night.
Step 6: Package your veggies.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that I got a Food Saver at a garage sale for $3.00. I feel like I hit the jackpot with this beauty of a machine! I absolutely love it. With my Food Saver, I pre-labeled my bags, added the desired amount, and sucked and sealed the bag shut. Lickety-split. But even if you don’t have a Food Saver, Zip Loc freezer bags work well too.
Now, when winter hits and the weekly menu board says “Stir Fry”, all I have to do is grab a bag of these, saute with some garlic and sauce, and pull out a couponed pork loin, and we are good to go!
If you need some canning inspiration, don’t worry. Peaches, pears and apples are coming and my kitchen will be a fall harvest canning factory! I’ll invite you in to learn how to do it on your own.