Now is the season when our vegetable gardens are overflowing with fresh produce. It's also a time when many gardeners preserve some of this bounty to enjoy the rest of the year. One of the most popular ways of preserving the harvest is by freezing.
How to make sure you'll be enjoying the highest quality frozen veggies this winter? According to the experts at University of Minnesota Extension, the key is blanching most kinds of produce before you freeze it. (Some vegetables, such as tomatoes and peppers, freeze well without this step.) Blanching simply means heating vegetables briefly in boiling or steaming water to inactivate the enzymes that cause produce to lose flavor, texture, and nutrients during freezer storage. Blanched veggies are cooled quickly by plunging them into an ice water bath for the same amount of time as they were blanched. Properly prepared in this way, your garden goodies will keep their quality for 8-12 months in a freezer maintained at zero degrees or lower.
Find the details of the blanching process, as well as blanching times for various kinds of vegetables, at Blanching Vegetables. For lots of great general information on preserving vegetables and herbs in a variety of ways, go to UMN Food Safety-Vegetables and Herbs.