July 20, 2010

Freezing Produce

A friend in Florida posted on Facebook about putting up peaches, commenting about all the work blanching to remove skin, and slicing. I commented on what I've done now for years, and thought I'd post some comments here.



First off! ... I've never peeled my fruit, whether canning, freezing, or drying. I figure that's where the majority of the nutrients are. The books say to, but after 30 years, we and guests are still very much alive and well! I suppose tho, that putting tomatoes thru either my hand cranked berry press or my Bosch one, the peel along with the seeds get eliminated, and too with apple sauce and pear sauce. But beyond those types of things, I don't work at removing the skin. Call me lazy. I like pies and cobbler, etc with fruit skins in the equation. When we'd eat canned peaches, the skins often fell off anyway, but in eating them they'd be full of flavor.



I don't can anymore. Canning loses 40% of produce's nutrients. Freezing and Drying only loses 15%. If I were to still can anything, it would be tomatoes, but with the two of us, and Costco having organic cases, and my garden doesn't produce that much of tomatoes (our 1st frost is early to mid September - so I pull out tomato plants onto a tarp and pull the tarp into the garage and pick off for eating the ripe tomatoes on into November). The best book for these techniques (tho they still peel stuff) is the classic Stocking Up. I love all the Rodale Press books (tho it may not be published by them now), having learned so much from them. Mr Rodale in the 70's was a maverick for health when American culture was moving into modern processed foods, and poor agricultural practices (A great book on the story of food is The Omnivor's Dilemma - I like all of Michael Pollan's books - I'm currently reading his older book Second Nature).



I've been freezing peaches whole now for quite some time. Since I don't cook a ton of desserts, we use them mostly "fresh" on granola/oatmeal/cereal, mushing on toast, frozen yogurt, in a smoothy ... Just take out however many peaches you want. If you don't want the skin, it slips right off. Slice and use.



Today, since it's cooled off quite a bit with cloud cover and forecasted rain, I'm going to be pulling up all the volunteer kale I let grow in my kitchen garden. It's been helping shade the garden soil all over the garden, so it doesn't dry out so fast, but it's now needing to be pulled out. I'm going to be freezing up a bunch.



Some veggies need to be blanched before freezing. I've not blanched corn in years since an old-timer told me she never blanches hers. But the Stocking Up book has done studies on testing produce's nutrients over time and found that most veggies hold nutrients better if blanched a bit. I freeze a lot of kale and spinach every year (and I get plenty of broccoli, cauliflower, and beans to freeze too). I like pulling out a little bag of kale or spinach, chop it up and thro in spaghetti/lasanga sauces, stews and chilis, or even just saute up a bit and put on a bit of lemon juice and parmesan and eat. Kale has more vitamin C than does citrus.
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