Today’s Tip: Take advantage of farmers market abundance and freeze vegetables for future use

Right now there’s an abundance of fresh vegetables available at farmers markets. With a little bit of effort now, you can take advantage of the low prices and freeze produce to enjoy this winter. By freezing your own products, you can freeze them in amounts you typically use at meals.

Preparing many vegetables for future use involves these steps:

  1. Cleaning the produce.
  2. Placing the produce in boiling water for a specific amount of time. (This is a process called “blanching” and cooks the produce partially, not fully.)
  3. Placing the blanched produce in icy water for the same amount of time.  
  4. Placing the drained produce in a freezer bag or other container.

Different vegetables call for different amounts of cooking time. For example, green beans are blanched for 3½ minutes, while onions require only 1½ minutes of blanching.

Each of these University extension websites offers charts showing the amount of blanching time needed for various vegetables:

Don’t forget: If it turns out you can’t use all the produce you purchased, you can donate it to area food shelves by bringing it to the Public Service Center parking lot, 250 South 4th Street, between 8 and 9:30 a.m. on any Wednesday through Oct. 10. The Department of Health and Family Support will arrange to have the donated fresh fruits and vegetables delivered to two local food shelves — Catholic Charities and Operation Living Hope.

Published Aug. 29, 2012