Freezing Your Own Homegrown Veggies
It isn’t difficult to freeze mixed vegetables! If you can freeze the produce from your garden, you can mix it up and preserve combinations of veggies that are harvested at the same time.
Growing your own fresh veggies for the summer table is a wonderful way to provide healthy food for your family for the season. When there is more than you can use right away, freezing, dehydrating, or canning is a great way to preserve the fruits of your labor for later. As long as you don’t go nuts on gadgets for the garden, you can save a lot of money raising your own food too.
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I always plant extra vegetables in hopes that there will be enough to preserve for a rainy (or snowy) day. Not everything works out as planned, and some crops don’t produce enough for our needs, but there is always something ripe and ready for our table or freezer.
In an ideal world, I would have spring peas, summer corn, and fall carrots all ready to go in the freezer together at the same time. But that’s not the way the garden works! In order to copy one of my favorite frozen veggie mixes from the store, I would need to harvest and freeze these vegetables in season, then mix them together as I use them. However, sweet corn and shelled peas are very space hungry plants and I don’t have as much room for them as I’d like. Instead, I improvise and grow the crops that work well for me in my growing conditions.
Mix It Up!
Most summers I have Swiss chard, green beans, summer squash, and tomatoes ready at the same time. These are the veggies I tend to freeze together for a nice mix of summer flavors. You may find that your garden yields a completely different mix of vegetables ready to preserve at the same time. Find what works in your garden and on your dinner plate. Does nobody like squash in your family? Don’t plant it!
Pick your vegetables at their peak and process them right away to preserve the highest nutritional content. I often blanch mine in the microwave and allow to steam for a few minutes, rather than boiling water for blanching. It keeps my kitchen cooler in the late summer heat.
Find the method that works for you and blanch veggies separately, unless they require the same processing times. You can find blanching times for vegetables on the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s chart here. Once you have your vegetables blanched and cooled, layer them in containers, label, and freeze. Voila!
Freeze Mixed Vegetables – My Favorite Combos
- Green beans, summer squash, and tomatoes
- Eggplant, sweet peppers, and tomatoes
- Tomatoes, basil, and zucchini
- Chopped onion, sweet pepper, and celery
Every year the garden offers a different selection of ripe veggies at any one time and it’s up to you to decide if they will make a good mix for your family. Sometimes it is best to freeze them separately so you can mix different combinations when you’re ready to cook.
- Don’t freeze more vegetables in one container than your family will use in one or two meals.
- Freeze vegetables like beans, peas, and corn in shallow layers on cookie trays, then transfer, if you wish to freeze in larger bags. They will be easier to break up and remove just what you need.
- Cool foods completely before freezing to prevent ice crystals.
- Grow and preserve vegetables that your family will eat!
- Process smaller amounts of vegetables as they ripen, freeze, then add more as they are ready. This is great for those with small gardens that don’t produce large harvests all at once.
- Grow and freeze a variety of different vegetables that you like. You may love zucchini, but you’ll want other choices. Have some veggies in mixes and some plain to offer more choices.
- Use a vacuum sealer for drier veggies like beans and peas. Tomatoes contain too much moisture, which can get sucked into the motor of your vacuum sealer and ruin it.
- Use BPA free containers whenever possible.
Use it Up!
- Don’t just gaze admiringly at your handiwork when you open the freezer. Use those veggies up!
- Use in soups, stews, pasta sauces, and stir-fries.
- Use the oldest veggies up before starting on newer packages.
- Be sure to start cleaning up the end of your frozen veggies as the new season approaches.
- Supplement with veggies from the supermarket or a cold frame so you don’t get so sick of beans that you never want to plant them again. 🙂
What is your favorite frozen veggie mix? Do you have any tips for the best results when freezing vegetables?
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Shared on The Homestead Hop