Freezing fruit and vegetables is a great way to make your produce last a lot longer than the shelf-life. It also protects your produce from spoiling and keeps it handy for when you wish to use it, avoiding having to spend a lot of money for out-of-season produce. Frozen fruit and vegetables can be stored in your freezer for up to one year, giving you a lot of time to use them up.
To freeze vegetables, it is a good idea to blanch them first. You can blanch the vegetables by immersing them in boiling water for up to five minutes. By blanching them, you are killing any bacteria that may be present. Some bacteria will be killed by the freezing, but many can tolerate very cold temperatures and flare up when you defrost the vegetables.
As well as killing bacteria, blanching also helps to kill any little bugs that you might not be able to see. Once you have finished blanching your vegetables, move them to ice water and keep them in the water, adding more ice as necessary for as long as you blanched them. If you blanched your beans for five minutes, cool them off in ice water for five minutes as well.
To prepare your vegetables for freezing, cut them up into small pieces. This will only apply to items such as sugar peas, green beans and other similar items. Beans can be frozen as is after they are blanched. Be sure to store your foods in freezer bags as the bags are designed to keep your fruits and vegetables from developing freezer burn.
Your kids can help with many of the tasks explained, especially with freezing fruit, where no blanching is required. They will enjoy the more any recipe they make with fruit and vegetables they helped to preserve.
Freezing fruit is a little different as it does not require blanching. Blanching fruit may actually destroy it before you get the chance to use it. To freeze your fruit, after you pick it let it sit in a colander for up to 30 minutes. This will drain any water off of the fruit, even water that you can't see.
After you have let the fruit sit and drain, place the fruit on a cookie sheet with some wax paper and place it in the freezer overnight. Be sure not too many of the individual fruits are touching each other; this will cause them to stick together. The fruit will completely freeze overnight. You can bag the fruit the next day in individual bags and rest assured that when you go to use the fruit, they will not all be stuck together in one huge ice cube.
Make sure you label the fruit and vegetables with the date they were packed. Most vegetables are good for up to nine months to a year. Fruit can be frozen for up to a year as well, in freezer bags. If you choose to vacuum seal your bags then freeze them, the fruits and vegetables may last up to 18 months. After you have frozen your fruit and vegetables, reward yourself for a job well done and money saved.