Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Tuesday at the Table: Building My Freezer Stash
Tuesday at the Table is a great place for me to post today, because I've been busy trying to preserve our garden bounty, and haven't had as much time to sew. That's one of our freezers right now. It's not as full as last year, but every little bit helps, especially with my teen/tween boys and food prices predicted to go up.
We're very lucky to have dependable electricity here. I'm afraid I've become very dependent on freezing produce rather than canning it, but did spend many years canning all sorts of vegetables. I still got to admit that canned tomatoes are better than frozen, but if they're in a soup or stew, or beans, I really can't tell the difference. In a pinch (as you can see), I even freeze tomatoes whole if I'm unable to get to them before they go bad (I rarely throw any food away).
My favorite method for many things is to prepare them for freezing, then spread them out on a sheet pan with parchment paper underneath and freeze them in a single layer. I then just put them in a freezer bag. Those are roasted peppers from our garden on the sheet above. I blogged about them here and here, as well as roasted tomatoes. I do let them "sweat" after roasting, but don't peel them. When they're frozen this way, I just pull the number I need out of the freezer and put them under running water, and the skin slips right off!
I use these sheet pans to freeze blueberries, sliced peaches, strawberries, raspberries, roasted peppers, (blanched) green beans, etc... For zucchini, I grate it and freeze in 2 cup batches for bread and muffins. I roast, puree and freeze winter squash also in 2 cup batches for breads, and pies. I've even sauteed and frozen hardy greens, like chard and spinach to use in egg dishes or Greek food.
Now is the time to take advantage of produce at it's best, and cheapest, even if you don't grow it yourself. We rarely eat out, and I make our meals almost always from scratch, and I bet it saves us much more money than any "extreme couponing" technique. If my husband or son shoots a deer or elk this fall, we'll be in really good shape!!
Sadly, we spent the week-end pulling up all of our frost-killed vegetable plants in our garden, and "putting it to sleep" for the winter. I hope to have the produce we salvaged all "put up" in the next few days. Then I can get back to sewing!!