Many of us know that buying local, seasonal fruits and vegetables is beneficial in a number of ways. It’s better for the environment because you’re not buying ingredients that have traveled long distances to get to your plate, and it’s great for your taste buds because produce that’s in season has the best flavor. This is partly due to the fact that it’s allowed to ripen in an ideal fashion, rather than picking it prematurely to make room for the time it takes to travel to grocery stores from long distances.
It’s also great to support local farmers and producers! Produce purchased directly from them at your local farmer’s market will have more nutritional value than produce that’s had to travel to a grocery store.
How to Make Your Seasonal Produce Last
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could enjoy all your favorite local produce all year long? The good news is, by freezing your seasonal produce, you can! Contrary to common belief, freezing your fresh local produce does not rob it of its nutritional value. In fact, you can keep it in your freezer for a whole year and still enjoy its nutritional benefits. Freezing it right away can actually preserve more of its nutritional value than if you had eaten fresh vegetables you’ve been storing in your kitchen for a while.
Tips for Success:
- Rinse, drain and dry fruit and vegetables well before freezing to prevent excess ice crystals from forming.
- Blanch vegetables in boiling water for a few minutes, then put them in ice water before drying and freezing. This helps preserve their nutrients, flavor, color and texture.
- To prevent fruit and veggie pieces from sticking together, freeze them on a cookie sheet or tray for one to two hours before removing and placing in your desired container.
- Prevent freezer burn by removing as much air from your chosen freezing package as possible.
- Cut fruit into pieces and freeze them for quick and easy additions to your smoothies all year.
- Remove kernels from the husk before freezing corn.
- Remove stems from greens before freezing and chop if desired (yes you can freeze greens!)
- Steam or roast frozen vegetables to retain their nutrient value – boiling can leech their nutrient content.
Now get out there and enjoy the seasonal bounty at your local farmer’s market and don’t forget to save some for freezing!