I have been studying the Proverbs 31 homemaker lately, and one verse stuck in my mind in relation to freezing foods and preparing for future months: “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” Proverbs 31:25. I particularly thought of that second half of the verse, “she can laugh at the days to come,” because she is prepared! So, today’s simplify your life is about preparing your food for the future months (and saving money in the process):
Summer is the time for berries, peppers, corn, peaches, nectarines, beans, etc. We LOVE fruit at our house. Little can eat a one pound package of strawberries in just a few days. Travis loves putting blueberries on his cereal every morning. I eat oranges like they’re going out of style…But soon it’ll be fall and the prices for these delicious treats will skyrocket. So what is a shopper to do?
Our local farmer’s market/grocer had green beans on sale last week for $.88 a pound. I felt so foolish when I sat down and did the math to realize that the cheapest I’ve ever found canned green beans is $.50 a can, and that’s rare…But one pound of fresh green beans is at least 2 cans worth of beans… which breaks down to $.44 a can! Why had I not considered this before?
I knew snagging these fresh veggies and fruits when they’re at a great price and freezing them fresh is the way to go. I can’t believe our family hadn’t considered this sooner.
Freezing Peppers and Onions:
Freezing foods like bell peppers and onions is SO easy! I found bell peppers for $.45 each at our farmer’s market grocer the other day, so I bought six of them. One I used that night in a dish, but the others were frozen. I chopped three of the peppers into small dices to be used in dishes like meatloaf and turkey burgers, and sliced the other two to be used in fajitas.
- Wash the peppers or peel away the outer skin layers of the onion
- Chop, dice, slice or julienne your onions or peppers as you need them for certain recipes
- Spread the pieces evenly spaced onto a cookie sheet lined with wax or freezer paper.
- Set in freezer for an hour or two, until the individual pieces are frozen.
- Divide into freezer bags in portions you need. I put one pepper’s worth in each bag.
- Seal bag making sure to get as much air out of the bag as possible.
- Sealing tip: Zip closed your freezer bag until about an inch or half an inch from the end. Slip a regular drinking straw in the bag and suck out the extra air. It will work like a vacuum seal! Quickly pull the straw out of the bag and finish zipping it closed. Tight seal for nothing!
Beans, Celery, Peas and Carrots
Some foods have to be blanched before they can be frozen. This keeps the items fresh and prevents them from losing their nutrients in the freezing process. Blanching food is just flash cooking them for a minute or two. It’s really easy and doesn’t add too much time or effort to the freezing process.
We don’t eat celery in our house. It’s not a fan favorite around here. However, I do love to use celery in pot roasts, soups, broths, baked chicken, and of course Thanksgiving dressing. Because I only eat celery in cooked dishes, it works out perfectly to freeze it for later use.
Organic celery went on sale for $.88 a bundle, so I jumped on that. Every time Thanksgiving season rolls around, celery in our parts usually jumps up to $1.99 a bundle. I figured I should buy it now and have it on hand ready to go for all of those cozy fall dishes that call for celery.
- Wash your celery really well. Organic foods often have critters hiding within them…I’m not gonna lie, mine had a HUGE bug of some species living deep within the stalks. He was brown and had a bunch of legs and was just ICKY. Even if you don’t get organic fruits or veggies, they have pesticides and Lord knows what else, so they need to be washed.
- Get rid of the strings as well as you can.
(Don’t stress too much over the strings though. I use a potato peeler.)
The following instructions can apply to green beans and carrots as well as celery:
- Prepare a bowl of ice water and a pot of boiling water. Place the veggie pieces in the boiling water and boil for 1.5 to 3 minutes or until they get a deep, rich color. No longer than 3 minutes though!
- Immediately scoop out the veggies and plunge into the ice water. This stops the cooking process quickly.
- Let the veggies sit in the ice water for 30 seconds to one minute then lay out on a tea towel to drain. Spread the pieces out with equal distance between each piece onto a cookie sheet lined with wax or freezer paper. This can now be placed in the freezer like the peppers and onions before! Once the individual pieces are frozen, you can package them in a freezer bag (free of air!) and they’ll keep for up to 6 months. We’re ready for Thanksgiving and all of those yummy soups and stews that sound so delicious in the fall and winter!
Did You Know…?
Peaches can be frozen whole! The skins protect the fruit from the flesh from turning brown. Simply freeze it whole- skin and all- in a ziplock baggie, then set that baggie in a pool of lukewarm water to defrost. When it’s thawed, the skin will literally fall off of the fruit and you can slice it and eat it (or use it in a dessert or drink) as normal! No sugar or fruit preservative needed!
Now, get out there and take advantage of those fantastic summer fruit and vegetable prices before the weather turns against us and bell peppers are back to $.99!