Stockpiling Fresh Produce {Part 1}

One of our readers, Bernice (an 80 year old widow who occasionally shares delicious recipes and bits of wisdom with us) sent these tips into us.  I thought they were so fantastic and wanted to share wtih all of our readers!

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STOCKPILING BARGAINS IN FRESH PRODUCE

tips for stockpiling produce

USE YOUR FREEEZER! You save electricity,too.  A full freezer uses least power; if yours isn’t full, fill cartons or jugs with water to keep it full.  You can also use these as “ice” in your chest cooler.  Put a chest in when you grocery shop in summer to keep frozen, meat, dairy.

Freezer

FREEZING
One of the MOST IMPORTANT tips.  Spread out the product in a single layer on cookie sheets and freeze; THEN package.  Try to package in the amount you would use for one meal; THEN package all the smaller packages together in a gallon or 2-gallon ziplock bag, to avoid losing them in your freezer.  LABEL the large bag, (Amazing how hard it is to identify something green after its frozen.)  When I store I place large bags on top of each other with the “zipper” edge to the front.  I can open  it without disturbing the ones above or below, and get out one (or more) packages.

I generally do NOT dice or chop too finely, as the edges tend to dry out in freezer if pieces are very small.  “Spears” or pieces no narrower than your thumb usually are best.  Purees will also freeze well.

Stay tuned for part 2 of our Stockpiling fresh produce series… “The Ins and Outs Freezing Raw Produce“!

More Freezer tips you might like:

freezer copy 4 Tips for a More Efficient Freezer

FREEZERBURN3 Tips for Avoiding Freezer Burn

Comments

  • Dawn

    Waiting to see more 🙂

    You show a chest Freezer but what about an upright and then of course the other side of the fridge freezer.

  • Susan

    Great idea for a series. I’m looking forward to the next one.

    When I invested in a freezer a couple of years ago, one of the best pieces of advice I received is to get some dishpans to store frozen bagged foods, meat, or other packages that don’t stack easily. I have an upright freezer, not a chest, and dishpans work great to keep my frozen foods organized. Cardboard boxes would work too, but dishpans don’t rip, hold their shape, and are easer to slide in and out because they have built-in handles. And they look nicer too. 🙂

    When I bought a box of chicken breasts from Zaycon, I packaged them into pint-sized freezer bags and stacked them into a dishpan, smooshing them as needed in order to fit in as much as possible, separating the layers of bags with a piece of paper towel. It’s kinda the opposite concept of freezing in a single layer and then stacking after they are frozen solid (which I do with other foods), but by separating the layers with a paper towel, it is easy to retrieve one misshapen bag because they don’t stick togther.

    Another benefit of using dishpans is that if a bag springs a leak, or say if your kids get into the popsicles and accidentally leave the freezer door open long enough for food to soften (argh!) the drippings are contained in the dishpan. Yes, that happened to me. I’d put some ice cream and frozen juice concentrates into a near-empty dishpan recently, and when the door got left open and it all thawed, I didn’t end up with melted ice cream and sticky juice goo all over. I only had to dump out and clean the one dishpan.

    Fortunately we discovered this mess soon enough that the meat did not all thaw out enough to be ruined.

    • Debra

      Love your ideas! I, too, have an upright freezer. Do you have advice for what to do with all that freezer-ful of food when the freezer needs to be defrosted? Mine does :/

      • Christina

        I use large plastic tubs that some people store toys in. They were cheap, hold a lot and the food stays frozen pretty well. Pack them full tightly and then cover with a thick towel or blanket. It holds in the cold. Then use pans of boiling water to help speed the defrost down. Or if you have a kid you trust ( my 9 year old son loves this) I let him use my blow dryer to defrost the freezer. He likes to watch the ice melt. It’s a great help because I can scoop and clean while he keeps the blow dryer up right and blowing.

      • Susan

        Debra, I’ve been able to put frozen food in coolers and the inside fridge/freezer when I need to defrost the extra freezer. I’ve only done it twice since I’ve had it, and both times it was a hot summer day. I just turned it off, and it defrosted pretty quickly, You can help it along with a blow dryer, but I’ve just left it off all day while I was at work, and when I got home it was all defrosted. Be sure to prop the door open. If the door is closed, it will take a lot longer to defrost.

        Ice cream, popsicles, and such do not refreeze well if they get soft, so I put that stuff into the kitchen freezer, or if you’re more organized than I am, defrost your freezer when you are out of sweet treats. Fruits and veggies do okay in a cooler with ice. Meat that is frozen rock solid will be okay in a cooler for a day without extra ice, or in the inside fridge. It can be safely refrozen if it’s just slightly soft around the edges and has been kept very cold.

      • I think packing the food in to coolers is a great way to keep it fresh while defrosting the freezer.

        To speed it up I would recommend picking up an inexpensive steamer to speed the process up, or pull your extra freezer out in to the sun. Ours defrosted in less than an hour over the weekend and was ready to use again in another hour!

    • I forgot to ask…what is a dishpan? {Don’t make fun of me :)}

      • Cyndi

        Missy, it’s a squarish plastic tub that some people use that fits in one side of a kitchen sink – the side where you would stack dirty dishes. Some people use this to protect their sink from scratches, or maybe don’t have a drain that can be plugged so the tub has to hold the sudsy dish water. They can be found in any store (like WalMart or Target) that carries dish drainer racks or kitchen organizer items. They look kind of like a small, but deep kitty litter box 🙂

  • julie kuhlmann

    Does fresh spinach freeze well?

  • Beth

    Thanks!
    I am looking forward to more tips on this.

    We bought a freezer last years just for garden veggies but so far corn and zucchini is the only thing we have used it for.
    We would love to fill it with all kinds of produce, so the more tips the better : )

    • We freeze everything in ours! I was totally against my husband bringing a freezer from his late grandfathers, but it has served us so well!

      We use ours for meat, veggies, fruits, freezer jam, butter, cheese, make ahead meals- everything!

      There are some really good freezer recipe books out there too if you need more inspiration!

  • Natalie

    Great idea! I hope you can list what produce freezes well and how you should freeze it. Thanks a bunch!

  • Shannon

    I can’t wait to hear more. We just bought a chest freezer last month! If anyone wants a good deal, we bought ours from Wes’s Appliance in Boise. He fixes up used appliances and sells them. And, the best part is that he puts a 6 month warranty on it!

  • Vicky

    Can I freeze fresh pineapple?

    • Debra

      I’ve heard it works great for smoothies!

    • heather

      I have sugar gliders and they LOVE pine apple the last time we got free pineapples I got 15 of them and dehydrated 5 for humans and 10 i chunked up and froze, they seem to like them as much as fresh and they are picky little suckers and i even snuck a few and they were goos as canned…so I suppose it depends on what you are going to reuse them for?

      • Vicky

        I just want to be able to enjoy them later on when they are no longer in season. So once it un-thaws it’s still pretty good? I found some on sale and wanted to stock up on them.

  • Miae Aramori

    My husband loves his food sealer. We buy the bacon from Albertson’s from the butcher in batches of 30lbs when it goes on sale. Everyone who visits comments on how good are breakfast are, so we never eat that meal out.

  • Shelley

    One of my favorite things to freeze is pesto. I grow my own herbs and they freeze really well in old ice cube trays or mini muffin tins. When frozen, I pop them out and store in baggies. Another thing I love to make is freezer jam, because it is an excellent way to use over-ripe fruit. I save margarine tubs to freeze it in. It makes excellent gifts, too. If you are too busy to make freezer jam, just freeze the fruit until you have time. I do that all the time with berries.
    I prefer my upright freezer to my chest freezer, just because things tend to go missing in the chest freezer, SO, I suggest keeping an inventory taped to the lid, so that you know what you have.

  • Deanna

    Great idea!!!

    One thing to carefully consider, is making sure you’re freezing your veggies the right way…some veggies require blanching before freezing (a quick steam) to stop the production of any bacteria…

    Then again…you’re probably going to cover that in part II. 🙂

    (Now I need a nice chest freezer…because the one in my fridge is going to be chuck full!!!)

  • laurie

    I don’t care for the chest freezers cuz I always always want what is on the bottom!!! watch appliance prices during the black friday sales, last year we bought a full stand up freezer for only 295.00….it was 1/2 price runs like a dream and i love having 5 seperate shelves and 5 door shelves too!!! we also traded out our fridge that was in the house with a much nicer one and put the smaller one in the garage so i have a small freezer and a full fridge, I am able to really stockpile things that most don’t have space for:-)

  • There are so many things we can freeze! I’ve even heard of a lot of people freezing milk!

    A good thing to freeze is leftover pasta sauce- if you have left over sauce and you know you won’t use it within a couple of days, or there isn’t a “serving” size left, pop it in a freezer bag {after it cools} and freeze it! Then use it when you are ready- it thaws quickly in your saucepan with the rest of your sauce.

    Another good tip I learned was to freeze things on cookie sheets so they freeze flat and stack them!!

    It’s way easy to stack pizza’s {I take mine out of the box and keep a cut out of the directions} and tortillas {we get the uncooked ones at Costco} and I even flatten out our cheese to freeze it!

    • Carrie

      I am freezing several milk jugs this week during Albertson’s free milk deals. I am planning on using them for camping on the 4th, makes great ice in the cooler.

  • Amanda

    For those who have chest freezers, one good way to keep things organized is to place like items in paper grocery bags (with handles, if you can find them). This way you can keep all those bagged items together and they won’t get lost. I keep an inventory sheet of what is in my freezers and this helps a lot when I need to check what I have to update the list before shopping.

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