Following my last post, I want to use Tightwad Tuesday to talk about freezing fruits and vegetables. I know it sounds like a totally lame topic. But, can I just tell you that there is nothing in the world like biting into a warm, syrupy peach cobbler in February made from peaches grown locally and just having that tart sweetness melt in your mouth? Or pulling the dish out of the frig the next morning and taking three huge bites before you even get your coffee? Who would do something like that? I have no idea, I swear…
I’m all for buying frozen fruits and vegetables over canned because I believe that they are preserved at the perfect time and you get the best flavor from frozen verses canned, if you can’t have fresh. But, somewhere along the way, I thought, if they can freeze peaches, why can’t I? Or berries? Or peppers? Or onions? Or my own waffles? You get the point, right?
I really got into this when I made baby food for the boys. Yes, made it. I have this weird personal stance that anything that goes into my kids’ mouth must be tasted by me first. Weird, I know. After tasting commercial baby food, I knew that there was no way I was going to make them eat it! It tastes TERRIBLE. And smells even worse. So, I set out learning to make baby food and how to store it. It was fun and I never blinked when it was time to do it for JL. I loved it, actually. And I liked knowing what was in their food. I’m weird like that.
Anyway, back on the topic at hand. Freezing fruits and veggies is easy. Let’s talk fruits first. You know how bananas start turning brown and yucky and most people just throw them away? Instead, take that banana, get a Ziploc bag and stick it, peel and all (some folks peel first, I do not), and then put it in the freezer. They will turn black, don’t freak out. Keeping adding bananas as you go (making a point to empty the bag totally fairly often). When you’ve got 6 bananas in there, you’ve got the makings for some homemade banana bread! I’m always missing that last banana and this has eliminated the waste.
Peaches—I peel them, slice them and then lay them out on a piece of wax paper on a cookie sheet. Then I cover them with another sheet of wax paper and put them in the freezer over night. The next day, I pull them out and pull them off the wax paper and stick them in a gallon sized bag. There you go…frozen peaches for smoothies, cobblers, pies, muffins, whatever.
Berries—work the same way as peaches. I’ve never done strawberries but blueberries and blackberries freeze just fine. And yes, I pick blackberries off the road, in pastures and wherever I can get my thorn-filled purple stained hands. I ain’t skeered. I love me some blackberries. We’ve been eating on 2 gallons of blueberries for 2 years and I may never get them all gone. I don’t like blueberries but Hunter and the boys (who knew?) love them. So, I’m going to be doing a whole lot more blueberry recipes at our house in the future.
Green peppers/onions—In the summer, I love to grow and buy local peppers (green, red, yellow and banana). That’s when they’re the cheapest. Seriously, Wally World wanted over $3 for a red pepper last week and I had to leave it there as I’ve run out. What I do in the summer, is slice them up and do just like I do for peaches. Let them freeze over night and fill up a gallon bag with them. Now, they’re not good for sandwiches or salads, but these babies are perfect for soups, sauces, fajitas, the Pioneer Woman’s Marlboro Man sandwiches, you name it. And do you realize that green peppers are one of the most chemically treated veggies out there? I recently discovered you could do the same thing with onions. And it has revolutionized my world! No longer do I have to rush in from work, chop onions, cry and then keep cooking. Instead, I grab the bag of frozen sliced onions that I would have let rot in the frig because I’d have forgotten about that bit that was left, and I toss them in whatever I’m cooking and BAM! as Emeril says!
Grapes—frozen, they make a tasty little summer snack…seedless please! I just do a few at a time for this. They’re really, really not meant to thaw and use for anything.
I’m still experimenting with green tomatoes. They weren’t that great fried last week but I think I needed to thaw them on paper towels so it’ll wick the water way. Apples, however, do not freeze well. Well, they turn brown and if you can get past that, then apple sauce tastes ok frozen and I guess you could use it for baking if you wanted too….but I’d rather just can it.
I could go on and on about what I want to try but I’ll spare you! I just hope that I got my point across. I know I never officially tied this into Tightwad Tuesday but here’s the gist. You buy it local, in season much cheaper than you will in March when it’s being shipped in from other countries or from (gasp) California! And if you preserve it when you can get it at such a great price, then YOU’RE SAVING YOURSELF SOME MONEY! But, you won’t be sacrificing quality! That’s the key. Just because you’re cutting back, spending less and being more frugal does not mean that you have to give up the quality of the food you eat. It simply means you buy smarter! I know that we eat better now than we ever have and I am very happy with how I’m feeding my family, cereal for supper two weeks ago, aside.
There ya go, another Tightwad Tuesday! Sheesh, I’m really sweating these each week! And I thought it would an easy topic for me!