For the longest time, I’d buy my produce at the farmer’s market over the weekend. When the next Friday rolled around and I hadn’t used everything, I’d regretfully throw away the excess.
Now I’ve invested in a low-energy freezer, powered from my local year-round creek. It was a big budget item but its changed my life and as I learn how to properly freeze produce, I’m giving new life to my budget — and my cooking.
At first, freezing produce sounded quaint to me—like something I’d do if I no longer had to work and, at least in theory, had more time.
It also struck me — again, at first blush— as something kind of funny because, after all, why freeze fresh produce when I can buy frozen fruits and vegetables at the grocery store if I need them?
I’ve since learned why freezing produce at home is a hot trend in the food world.
“A lot of it is stemming from a surge in interest in where our food comes from,” said Sarah Pike, CEO of Buen Sabor, a Massachusetts-based frozen food company. “People are going to farmers’ markets, using community supported agriculture, or growing gardens and getting access to more amazing fruits and vegetables.”
That’s prompting folks like me to buy produce items in excess, especially items that only are available in certain seasons.
In those situations, freezing is among one of the most practical and tasty solutions.
“When you have your own garden at home, you can only give away so much zucchini,” said Pike, who was raised in Maine on a certified organic farm..
“Once people start to freeze and see the value of enjoying a certain produce item that still tastes great even though it’s no longer in season, they get hooked on freezing.”
Freezing fruits and vegetables also comes in handy in the quest to cook and eat healthier, said Live Oak-based travel writer Janet Groene, author of “Cooking Aboard Your RV,” “Cooking on the Go,” and other books.
“Everyone’s into smoothies; they’re packed with health, and they can be frozen into blocks,” said Groene, who purees her produce before freezing. Freezing is also more affordable than some store-bought alternatives, she added.
Freezing produce is common among people living off-grid or those with a limited amount of space, such as those in an RV, Groene said.
She now sees home-frozen produce as an easy way to make soups and other items when she’s short on time. In fact, that belief is partly what led her to start her line of frozen high-quality Latin foods.
Here’s something else I learned from the folks I interviewed—your freezing adventures don’t have to be limited to just fruit. There are many vegetables that do well with freezing, too.
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