And Other Freezer Fare
While I must admit that I dream of one day having a root cellar packed full of canned creations, the reality is that I have limited time and a deep freezer, and the freezer, as it turns out, might be even better than a root cellar. There’s a lesson in here about learning to love what you have, but really what we’re going to learn is how to freeze some of fall’s harvest.
Our typical Indian summers here in northern California provide the perfect extension of our summer growing season and a great opportunity to scoop up all that last, fresh produce. Here are a few ways we can get creative with preserving tomatoes, zucchini, and pumpkin to keep the vibrant flavors of fresh-picked ingredients alive in our homes all winter long.
I’ve learned the hard way that a jar full of prepped preserves can crack in the freezer, but I’ve learned as well how to minimize such a happenstance. First, look for glass canning jars that state “freezer safe.” Wide mouth jars that are straight without shoulders are less likely to crack. Pintsize jars are equivalent to one can. For example, if you freeze pureed pumpkin in a pint jar and a future recipe calls for one can pumpkin, you will have the correct amount. Leave a gap of at least a 1 inch at the top of the jar to allow for ingredients to expand while freezing. Before transferring to the freezer, cool jar contents completely in the refrigerator. Overnight refrigeration is great for this step.
If you’re freezing blanched or raw produce, freeze items on a cookie sheet or tray first and then pour into jars so they don’t stick together.
Erin McCarthy Bianchi is a Registered Dietitian and all-around local food lover. She and her two daughters spend many hours in the kitchen cooking and eating. Follow Erin on Instagram @thefarmerandthecook for more simple recipes using local ingredients.