While talking with a group of mommies today, I was shocked to learn that they didn’t know that they could prep their vegetables ahead of time. So of course, I thought I’d share this on the blogosphere for all the other mommies who would like to save some time, too.
In my household, we do a MAJOR farmer’s market outing about once a month. We buy enough of our staple vegetables and herbs to last us about a month. We also buy extra of whatever veggies are in season and good priced, along with fruit too.
After doing some research (of course), I found that for long term storage in your freezer it is best if you blanch your vegetables before freezing. I don’t blanch my vegetables, BUT I use my vegetables fairly quickly. Blanching keeps the vegetables from loosing color, changing texture and flavor. The enzymes in vegetables that makes them grow continue even when frozen. Freezing does slow down the process. For information on blanching, check out some of the links in the references section below, or of course you could do a search on Google.
You don’t have to blanch onions, green peppers or herbs… they will last a tremendously long time. The only thing you’ll have to worry about is making sure they are in appropriate freezer containers to prevent frost bite.
I do a bit of menu planning (I’ll have to write another post about that) before I go to the market. Then on the Sunday following the farmer’s market, we rinse and clean the veggies and herbs. Then comes the trimming, chopping, slicing and dicing of our vegetables and herbs. I then put them in small freezer containers, usually 1-1½ cup sizes so that I don’t have to think about how much is in each.
For the herbs, after they are clean, I put them in my food processor to chop. I then scoop out 1 tbsp and put it in a slot in a ice cube tray. I use one ice cube tray per herb (I’ve mixed up enough of them in my life time to not repeat that mistake any more). I fill each cube slot with just enough water to cover the herbs. I DON’T fill it up to the top. Once the cubes are frozen, I dump them out into a container and label them appropriately.
Then when it comes time for cooking, I just grab whatever herbs and veggies I need. You don’t have to defrost the veggies. Although, beware that it does take a few extra minutes of cooking time. This method is super easy for throwing together a crockpot meal in minutes.
Some of the benefits are:
- You don’t need to buy prepackaged frozen vegetables
- You save money by not buying prepackaged foods
- You can get dinner together really quickly
- If you use your crockpot, you’ll have dinner waiting for you
- You cut down on frozen food package waste
Vegetables and Herbs on hand in the freezer:
- Onions, diced & sliced
- Bell peppers, diced & sliced, mixed and some red pepper by themselves
- Mushrooms, diced & sliced
- Carrots, diced
- Celery, diced
- Thai curry mix (eggplant, onion, red pepper)