As the clocks change, my thoughts naturally turn away from the Summer’s bounty and towards the veg I’ll be munching on over the Winter months.
However, before I let myself get too excited about leeks, kale and all the other Winter goodies, I’ve got a few summer leftovers to take care of.
Freezing Summer veg for eating during the Winter is a great way of adding variation to your diet. It’s a good money saver too, as out of season veg is expensive to buy in the shops.
I often grow late rows of green beans and mangetout purely for freezing to eat later in the year.
Most veg freeze well, and if you’re lucky your plot will still have some veg worth freezing, such as green beans, carrots and peas.
However, there are a few general rules to follow so here are some tips to make sure you get the best out of your end of season gluts.
Use the Youngest Veg
Choose young, fresh vegetables when freezing. Old, large crops will be tougher and will give a disappointing taste when you get round to eating them.
This is particularly relevant to green beans such as French beans, mangetout and runners.
I used to think blanching was a bit of a waste of time until I read up on it. In fact, blanching is really important, as the process destroys the enzymes that cause ripening. Blanching also helps remove dirt and bacteria, as well as reducing the speed in which vitamins and minerals are lost.
Blanching is easy, and simply involves plunging the vegetables into boiling water for about 2 minutes. When time is up, drain the veg and cool it in cold water before freezing.
Choose the Right Containers or Bags
Freezer bags are best for storing your veg as they are convenient and you can cram plenty into a small space. Remember to remove the air before you seal the bag.
Don’t overfill the bags. Small portions are best, as you can then adapt the amount you use to the number of people you’re cooking for.
Tight sealing plastic containers work well too, and can be neatly stacked in a freezer. I use plastic takeaway type containers to freeze my stewed fruit.
Label Your Freezer Bags
Name and date your freezer bags with a permanent marker so you know how old the vegetables are. Most veg will keep for a year, but if you’re anything like me the back of your freezer is full of stuff you’ve forgotten about. It’s reassuring to know how old everything is!