Many people who love fresh vegetables and fruits keep a supply of frozen (picked at the height of last summer) produce in their freezer.
Now is the time to use what you froze last year in order to make room for this year’s summer harvest from the garden or farmer’s market.
In my freezer, I have blueberries from my bushes, some broccoli stalks saved for soup and stir fry dishes, as well as jalapeno peppers from my veggie garden. Even though they don’t exactly go together, I know I need to use this supply now.
You probably have some things that you could use up, too. It is better to avoid food waste by eating last year’s bounty rather than throwing it away when it goes bad.
Storing Frozen Produce
It is important not to store frozen produce for too long a period, not only to maintain their nutrition and quality, but also practice food safety.
Sometimes storing produce for a prolonged period of time will change the texture. For example, some vegetables may get mushy once frozen.
Hopefully you pre-portioned items before you froze them so that they will be easier to use when you are ready instead of having to thaw and use a large quantity.
Here is a downloadable guide that will help you determine how long your produce should be frozen before it needs to be tossed and other helpful tips for freezing your produce.
Using Frozen Foods
Buying in-season produce in bulk when it is more affordable or harvesting more fruits and vegetables than you can eat is a great way to fill your freezer with healthy foods to enjoy all year.
The flip side of that is if you don’t use it in a timely manner, you may waste not only the money you invested in it, but also the time it took you to prepare the produce to be frozen. Most families just don’t have time or money to waste.
There are a number of ways we can use up some of the frozen produce we have stored since last summer. Here are a few easy and fun ideas:
- Use frozen fruit in pies or other baked goods, such as muffins.
- Make smoothies or frozen treats for the kids after school or when summer boredom hits.
- Use chopped vegetables in a stir fry dish.
- Use diced pepper (sweet or hot) in cold salads for summer picnics.
- Chopped tomatoes from last summer’s garden can make a tasty salsa now while you wait for the next crop.
- Add last summer’s frozen fruit in puree form to this year’s jelly and jam recipes.
- On a rainy summer day, set aside time to make a vegetable soup and add in as many different kinds of frozen vegetables as you have in your freezer.
- Sprinkle frozen fruit in your morning breakfast cereal or dinner salad.
- Roast a mix of vegetables in foil on your barbecue grill. Mix up some of last seasons veggies with a few fresh and your favorite seasoning to spice up the BBQ!
- Making pasta? Add some frozen veggies for a primavera the family will love!
- Summer treats using last summer’s frozen fruits, such as homemade ice cream or yogurt, sherbet, or icees will hit the spot to beat the heat!
- How about dropping some frozen fruit bits into your adult beverage as you relax by the pool?
There are many more ways to make use of what the freezer holds. What is your favorite go-to way to use up frozen fruits and vegetables before the next summer bounty begs to be frozen?