The easiest, most effective way to having healthy food at your fingertips is to freeze it! You’ll never complain about not having healthy food ready ever again!
Secret #1: Something great thing about freezing fruits and vegetables is that you don’t really need fancy equipment. Freezer bags come in handy for “dry pack” freezing that doesn’t involve using syrups or purees. Rigid plastic (and sometimes glass) containers and jars come in handy for liquid or semi-solid foods, sauces, jams, and other preserves.
Secret #2: Fruits and veggies that do exceptionally well frozen whole: Berries (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, currants, cranberries, etc.), bananas, chili peppers, beans, asparagus, tomatoes, and corn.
Secret #3: Produce that does well sliced or diced:
Bell peppers, avocado, mango, pineapple, melon, peas, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, stone fruits (peaches, nectarines, plums, cherries), apples (yes, you can freeze apples!), summer squash, and winter squash.
Secret #4: Most vegetables also need to be blanched before freezing. Blanching is nothing more than plunging vegetables into a pot of boiling water, letting them cook briefly (3-4 minutes max), and transferring them to a big bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.
Secret #5: In canning, foods are treated with citric acid, lemon juice, or ascorbic acid to help kill microorganisms and prevent discoloration. The same rings true with freezing. Think of all of your favorite fruits that turn brown after being cut — bananas, avocado, peaches and nectarines, apples, etc. They benefit from a quick dip into acidulated water.
Secret #6: Freezing quickly is great because a) fruits and veggies are easy to thaw out if they aren’t frozen together in a big lump, and b) the quality is better after thawing.
Secret #7: Another option is Wet Pack freezing, or freezing fruit in a sugar syrup. The recipe for the syrup is the same as you’d use when canning. All of the steps are the same as with canning, except no cooking needed. It’s so easy to do!
Secret #8: You’ll want to label the bags and containers with the date and the contents. You might think you’ll remember what it is, but six months down the road it might be more difficult to remember what was in each bag or container.
Secret #9: Both bags and containers should be packed full. Remove as much air as possible. A trick I learned is to use a straw to suck all of the air from the bag and then quickly close it.
Secret #10: When using containers, be sure to leave enough headspace to allow for the liquids to expand as it freezes.
Secret #11: Fruit will keep well for a year, and veggies will keep for about 18 months. (I’ve had some keep for much, much longer.)