Freezing Cooked Produced {Stockpiling Fresh Produce Part 3}

One of our readers, Bernice (an 80 year old widow who occassionally shares delicious recipes and bits of wisom with us) sent these tips into us.  I thought they were so fantastic and wanted to share wtih all of our readers!  Here is part one and part two in case you missed them! Thanks Bernice!

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FREEZING AFTER COOKING OR OTHER PROCESSING

COOKING IS NECESSARY to stockpile some fresh produce. While frozen food technology brings us many frozen vegetables they use a flash freezing technique you can’t duplicate at home. However, you can stockpile some of it by cooking and THEN freezing.

  • POTATOES AND SWEET POTATOES: When there is a really great price per pound on a 10 or 15 pound bag of potatoes, I know I won’t use them before they get wrinkly, etc. I also like the time-saving of some of the following:
    • TWICE-BAKED: Use your usual recipe, baking, hollowing out shell, mixing and replacing. Instead of baking again, freeze. You can bake them for a longer time, or defrost in the microwave and then bake.
    • MASHED: mash potatoes as usual. Cool completely. Make serving size mounds of potatoes on cookie sheets. Freeze,package. Defrost in microwave.
    • POTATO CAKES: Mix mashed potatoes with onions and one raw egg. Form in patties, dip in flour, then crumbs. Saute. Cool,freeze.
    • POTATO PANCAKES: (LATKES) Use any recipe, cook completely, then cool, freeze and package.
    • ALL PURPOSE POTATOES: These can be thawed slowly or in microwave then used for: Potato Salad, Cottage Fries, in Frittata, or mash. Bake as many as you want to freeze. Cool. THEN, VERY IMPORTANT, refrigerate overnight. (makes better potato salad,too, even if you don’t freeze them.) Peel. Slice. Spread in single layer, freeze, package.
    • USE THIS SAME METHOD FOR SWEET POTATOES.Then you can make salad, mashed, candied.
    • BABY RED POTATOES: Steamed or oven roasted. (NOT peeled) Freeze, package.
  • WINTER SQUASH: peel, cube and cook, either steaming or oven roasting. cool, freeze, package. This can be used in salads as well as heated or added to stews, soups or mashed further to serve.
  • APPLESAUCE: package in bags. If your family likes “fried” apples these freeze well too
  • CABBAGE: Red or green cabbage, sauteed with onions and apples, with bacon and vinegar will freeze well, as will cabbage cooked in any fashion, including stuffed cabbage.
  • GREEN BEANS: Home frozen raw green beans, even blanched, somehow don’t have good texture when cooked. However, I think fresh beans cooked to the doneness I like freeze satisfactorily.
  • SPINACH OR CHARD: Saute or steam. (If chard, cook and package stems separately). AFTER cooked AND cooled, put on cutting board and chop well. Use a “dry” type measuring cup and measure out in 1/2 cup or 1 cup mounds on cookie sheet, freeze, package. Combine with sour cream and your choice of seasonings for “creamed spinach” or add to pasta sauce or soups or serve with lemon or vinegar as side dish.  Can use raw spinach in pesto which you then freeze (see Herbs)
  • HERBS: Make Herb Butter from any herb, with or without adding lemon juice. Form into roll, freeze the roll. You can slice off the roll each time you want to use it, or, after it is frozen slice the whole roll and refreeze and package the slices. Use on meats, fish, vegetables or hot breads. Make Pesto in food processor or blender with green herb, or combination, some kind of nut, oil ( olive or vegetable) and a dry shredded cheese. The usual is basil, pine nuts, olive oil and parmesan. If freezing herbs you can make it omitting the cheese, adding when you use it. Pack into an ice cube tray; freeze; package cubes in bag. (You can use spinach, parsley, cilantro; walnuts, almonds , pistachios, hazelnuts)
  • CITRUS:
    • Juice: If you have lots of lemons, limes or oranges you can juice them and freeze the juice in measured amounts; 1/3 cup or 1 Tablespoon; in snack size bags or in ice cube trays, the cubes then bagged.
    • Zest: before juicing, zest your citrus with grater or microplane, freeze in small bags.
    • Peel: if you like candied orange or grapefruit peel as candy or an ingredient, you can keep the peels you peel off or after juicing (not zested) and freeze in a bag until you have enough to make your candy.
  • DRYING HERBS: Super simple in your microwave Place in single layer between paper towels. Microwave on high 30 seconds at a time, not more than 1 1/2 minutes. They should still retain color, not be brown. Leave on paper towel; dry on rack another hour. Crumble into container. Dried parsley adds color to cooked dishes, while fresh parsley, cooked, is not pretty. Dried mint is also great for cooking. Dried celery leaves add flavor to soups and sauces.

Oh my goodness, I don’t know about you, but I am HUNGRY now and inspired to cook!

Do you have any other tips to add to this series?

Speaking of freezers and food… have you read our series all about Freezer Meal Cooking?

 

Comments

  • Jaime

    My mom is all about dehydrating her own produce while it is cheap. She does everything from bananas, peaches and strawberries to onions and carrots… and of course herbs. She has a very nice dehydrator (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B001795P4O/ref=dp_image_z_0?ie=UTF8&n=2619525011&s=appliances) but you can find them for much cheaper and she uses a mandolin slicer to prepare the food. She also cans- she says she just doesn’t have room in her freezers for a lot of produce (she has 4- lol).

  • Brooke

    Thanks for sharing these tips. Some of them I have heard of, but many I haven’t. So many new ideas!

  • I like to make my own vegetable stock. Anytime I have the ends of vegetables (onions, celery, carrots, garlic etc.), I put them in large ziplocs in the freezer as well as any fresh herbs. After I have a pot full (it doesn’t take long), I add water to cover along with a couple of bay leaves and peppercorns. Cook stock down, drain & cool and then pour into ice cube trays. Perfect vegetable stock for adding to soups, stews or sauteing vegetables. Very yummy and practically free!

    • Tallulah,
      When you say “ends” of the vegetables, do you mean the root ends of the veggies? or the just small amounts left over when you are cooking?

  • Kristine

    If you are going to freeze serving size portions then a muffin tin is better than a cookie sheet. I pick up muffin cups after a holiday when they are only a few cents. If you use the muffin cups they store in a bag better. If you want to pull out portions to make a tv dinner or take to lunch, items do not run together as they thaw. It also allows you to put things in the microwave as you go since not everything needs the same amount of time to cook.

    • jolene

      I use a silicone muffin pan. I freeze them then pop them out and put them in a freezer bag. I love the idea of muffin cups though. I always buy a couple 10 pound bags of potatoes around Thanksgiving then I usually have enough mashed potatoes to last through Christmas. It’s a real time saver I can have a nice meal on a busy week night in no time at all.

  • I like to dehydrate Fresh Pineapple. When Safeway had Fresh Pineapples for $.99 cents each last Easter, I bought 8 of them (had to use just about every family members club card), peeled and cored them, then I sliced them up as thin and I could and dried them until they were no longer sweating juice and kind of rubbery. My husband loves it so much he just about ate all of it but I was able to stash 2 bags for camping treats. It is almost better then candy 🙂

  • Thank you so much for posting this!! I read through the post about freezing fresh produce the other day and had forgotten where I found it. Bookmarking now!

  • Amanda

    Since many dishes call for chopped peppers & onions, I will chop up a large amount of both and separate into small snack size ziplocs to freeze. If you have a vacuum sealer, great, but I just use a straw to suck out the air (I know it sounds a little crazy, but it works!) Then I have them chopped and ready to go when I need them for a recipe. Time saver and less cleaning.

  • Sue

    I have frozen herbs such as cilantro, basil and parsley loosely whole in plastic bags–when totally frozen , scrunch the bags to break up the herbs and repackage in small ziplock bags. It won’t stick together so you can use as much as you want. Sort of like freezing berries one layer on a cookie sheet and after frozen , repackaging them in ziplock bags.

  • Missy

    If you are looking for more good ways to preserver your food, your County Extension Office has a home economist who can tell you all about food safety. The website to find them is: http://www.extension.uidaho.edu/find.asp

    All counties have a County Extension Office usually with an Agriculture Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, and the 4-H Program.

    They are the kings and queens of anything about running your home/garden/kids, etc.

  • Awesome! Thanks Bernice.

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