Harvesting Summer Produce

I just love the flavors of summer produce: tomatoes, basil, bell peppers, hot peppers, cucumber, blackberries, blueberries, peaches and so many more! When I am in the middle of winter I find that I crave those fresh sunny fruits and vegetables and have found a way to have those year round. I buy up as much as I can afford each week and freeze them. It’s way more fresh and cost-effective than buying frozen veggies and fruit at the grocery store. It’s best to buy fruits and vegetables in the summer as they are always less expensive in season. Also, when you freeze them yourself you know exactly where they came from and that nothing was added in the freezing process. As summer sets in, remember that colder weather will come and you will long for these delicious foods. So buy a little extra each week, you’ll be surprised how much it adds up and you can stash away for the winter.

Here is my method:

Berries: Put berries on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, make sure they are not touching and freeze. Note: I first freeze them on a cookie sheet to make sure they don’t clump together. Much easier for grabbing just a handful for smoothies etc. Then date, label and move to a quart size bag. I keep adding to the bag each week until full and freeze as many bags as I can over the summer. Use in desserts and smoothies.

Peaches: Peel and slice. Place single layer on parchment-lined cookie sheet. Label, date and freeze. Add to freezer bag. Use in desserts, smoothies and peach chutney.

Cherry tomatoes: Slice in half and fill quart-sized freezer bag; squeeze to get all the air out. Label, date and freeze. Use for soups, tomato sauce and fresh salsa and my Shakshuka recipe. I don’t use the cookie sheet for these because I almost always thaw and use the whole bag so it doesn’t matter if they’re in a clump.

Tomatoes: Quarter tomatoes. Fill quart sized freezer bag. Squeeze to get all the air out. Label, date and freeze. Use for soups and fresh salsa.

Onions: Peel and slice. Put in freezer bag. Label, date and freeze. Each week, keep adding to the bag until full. These naturally do not clump unlike the berries so no need for the extra step, just throw them in the bag. Use for soups, stir fry or any recipe using sauteed onion.

Bell Pepper: Wash, remove seeds and slice thinly. Put in freezer bag. Label, date and freeze. Each week, keep adding til bag is full. Use for soups, stir fry or any other recipe using bell peppers.

Hot peppers: Put them in freezer bag whole. Label, date and freeze. Keep adding until the bag is full. These hold up nicely in the freezer for a long time when whole.

Basil or any other herb: Process in food processor with olive oil into a paste. Put into ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen, pop out of tray into quart size freezer bag. Label, date and freeze, filling bag until full. Use on pasta, in soups or any other recipe calling for the fresh or dried herb. This is so much tastier and fresher!

Lemon or lime juice: Juice fruit and put in ice cube tray. Freeze. When frozen, pop out into quart sized freezer bag and return to freezer. Use for seasoning to any soup, cocktails, lemonades or dressed up sparkling waters, salsa or guacamole.

If this is your first time freezing your own produce, or even buying from a farmers market. Try not to get overwhelmed, I recommend starting with the berries, as those are outrageously expensive in the winter. Buy a little extra each week and work your way up to different types of veggies and fruit. You’ll be a pro in no time and your future self will thank you for it! Happy freezing!