Freezing produce helps prevent food waste by saving your produce from going bad if you don’t want to eat it before it expires. By making the cooking process as simple as possible, you can reduce your stress levels, which in turn helps result in lower blood pressure. After freezing your fruits and vegetables to preserve them, you can toss them into pasta, soups, casseroles, smoothies, and stir-fry dishes, as well as sauté or steam them. This is a great way to save produce from spoiling. Freezing your produce is also a way to meal prep by pre-chopping your produce up beforehand.
Ideal fruits for freezing include apples, bananas, oranges, kiwifruit, mangoes, peaches, pears, and berries.
Ideal vegetables for freezing include broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, green beans, squash, and winter greens such as spinach, kale, chard, collards, and herbs.
In order to preserve the flavor, color, texture, and vitamin content of your vegetables, you are going to want to blanch them.
How to blanch produce:
- Rinse, chop, and trim vegetables.
- Boil water.
- Submerge vegetables in hot water. (The key here is not to cook them entirely. They should still be firm after blanching them. Greens and herbs, for example, typically start to turn bright green around 2-3 minutes. Review our blanching chart below to get a better idea of timing for different pieces of produce.)
- Use a slotted spoon or tongs to directly transfer produce into an ice bath to stop the cooking process.
- Once produce is cooled, shake off water and dry with paper towels to prevent freezer burn.
- Spread veggies out onto a single layer on a sheet pan so that they aren’t touching. Freeze until solid, then store them in storage bags or containers. (Leafy greens can skip this process and be stored right after blanching.)
- For fresh herbs, mince them and fill them into ice cube trays ¾ way full. Top with olive oil or water. Freeze until solid and transfer cubes into a storage container. (This is great for throwing directly into a skillet or pot, as there is no need to thaw the herb cubes beforehand.)
- For fruit, skip the blanching. However, make sure to properly clean, prep, cut, and shake off any excess moisture before storing in clean containers or freezer-friendly storage bags.
Consume your frozen produce within 8 months.