Freezing and Drying Vegetables and Fruits
If you can’t eat everything from the garden or give it away, how can you save it to use in the future?
Freezing is simple!
Put tomatoes in freezer bags that lay flat to conserve space. They’ll be fine later for drinks, sauces, and soups.
Freeze diced peppers and onions, perfect for casseroles and curries and soups.
Slice okra (and even bread it) for fried okra any time! Or just slice it and bag it for gumbos and stews. Green beans, peas, and corn also freeze very well.If you have a surplus of blackberries or strawberries, those are easy to freeze in a single layer on parchment paper or on a Silpat sheet and then store them in bags in the freezer.
Some plants, like most greens and broccoli require blanching in boiling water for two to three minutes to destroy the enzymes that cause food to spoil. Then, immediately put them in an ice water bath to cool them down quickly and drain them well. That helps to keep the color of the food.
Make sure you date and label the containers. I like to use my P-Touch labeler because it works really well even in the freezer. I like to get all of the air out of the bags and press them as flat as possible, that way I can stack more in the freezer.
You can also use a dehydrator. Some things can be dried in the oven, but it’s usually too humid here to get good results with solar drying. So a dehydrator is a good investment.
Some foods, like fruits, will need to be treated with a salt water dip or an ascorbic acid dip, which is a type of Vitamin C, or even fruit juice before drying to preserve their flavor and color. Your dehydrator will have lots of instructions, too!
Dehydrators are a terrific way to dry herbs to make teas throughout the year. Spread them in thin layers. Most of these don’t come with their own timers so I plug my drier into my timer just to make it easier.
There are many trays for dehydrators to use for fruit roll-ups or fruit leather, finer trays for herbs, and bigger openings for vegetables, for soups or kale chips. I love to dry my figs instead of making fig preserves which take a lot of sugar. It’s a healthy way to enjoy your abundant harvest all year long!