Freezing fruit and veg: what you need to know

It seems we are a nation of gardeners and during lockdown many have turned their hands to gardening and discovered green fingers! And for once we have a summer of glorious sunshine to give us a glut of fruit and vegetables. Here’s some tips on how to freeze your harvest and avoid food waste.

   Most raw veg won’t freeze and defrost very well so it’s best to steam, braise, roast or blanch first to ensure a better result. Cool completely before freezing.

•   Separate florets, berries, beans etc and spread them out on a tray before freezing then you can bag them up together once frozen and just take out what you need rather than a big clump.

  Your frozen veggies will keep for about three months.

Potatoes, roots and squash
Mash freezes really well and can be frozen in useful portions. This goes for potatoes, parsnips, swede, celeriac, carrots, sweet potatoes or squash. Defrost and reheat gently in a pan or use for fishcakes or pie toppings.

   Blanch and steam in chunks or chips and freeze individually on a tray ready to be bagged up once frozen.

Cauliflower, broccoli, beans, courgettes, peppers and peas
   Cut into florets and slices or pod, and steam or blanch in boiling water for a couple of minutes until tender, then plunge into cold water to stop the cooking process and keep that lovely vibrant colour. Once cooled, dry and lay out on the tray to freeze.

Cabbage, kale, chard and spinach
   Freezing kale or spinach raw is ok to throw into a smoothie (for extra fibre) but they will crumble. For cooking, trim and prepare the tougher leaves and stems to be blanched in boiling salty water until wilted. But look out, this can take just moments for the tender leafy greens (a bit longer for the thicker leaves). Plunge into cold water to stop them cooking and then squeeze them to remove as much water as possible. Then portion or chop and freeze until you are ready to add to bolognese, soups or curries.

Tomatoes and mushrooms
Tomatoes are best cooked into a sauce first and, likewise, mushrooms are best cooked then frozen, ready to be added to a vegetable chilli, soup or pie.

Whilst you can freeze your fruit raw ready to be popped into smoothies and cakes, you can lose the textures of some fruits in the process, so here’s some fruit freezing tips:

Simply peel and freeze them whole (they are easy to break in half from frozen) or slice and freeze so they are ready to throw into the blender for smoothies, ice creams or mousses.

Berries, grapes, kiwis, melon, pineapples
Peel, slice and freeze on a tray to prevent sticking together, then bag up ready for smoothies, sorbets and juices.

Stone fruits, apples, pears
These can be sliced and frozen on a tray or stew with some cinnamon, ready for a crumble or compote (extra beneficial for your gut health too!) Make sure it is cooled down before freezing.

Rhubarb and gooseberries
Best stewed before freezing with a little stevia, xylitol or cinnamon to your taste.

Zest or juice oranges or lemons and freeze into handy ice cubes. Let’s not forget to slice and freeze lemon and lime for those gin and tonic sundowners.

Main image:  Tristan Gevaux via Unsplash 

Michele is a registered Nutritionist, Health Coach and Lecturer.
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