If you find yourself sitting at the kitchen table grinning at the cornucopia of summer bounty that is filling your fruit bowl it’s hard not to appreciate this gift of summer goodness. More than likely, you are debating whether to eat fresh cantaloupe or watermelon for breakfast today. Or if you’ll make another amazing tomato sandwich for lunch, the one where tomato is the featured flavor, cut into a half-inch slice on your favorite bread with just a spread of mayo.
Before you start enjoying today’s abundance you may want to start thinking about winter. What? Winter…why? Sorry for throwing a wrench into your late summer daydream but consider this: There is nothing like that summer tomato, peach, melon or green bean taste to cure the wintertime blues. And with the abundance come the best prices of the summer, so doing some work now could bring very pleasant results in December.
No, you don’t have to take canning or pickling class. Use your freezer to save some summer – it’s not as hard as you think. Why not freeze some tomatoes for sauce? Try this technique, it’s easy and yields great results.
Tomatoes can be frozen whole, sliced, chopped or pur’eed. Additionally, you can freeze them raw or cooked, as juice or sauce, or prepared in the recipe of your choice. Thawed tomatoes maybe used in any cooked-tomato recipe. Do not try to substitute for them for fresh tomatoes, however, since freezing causes their texture to become mushy. Season just before serving rather than before freezing; freezing may either strengthen or weaken seasonings such as garlic, onion and herbs.
Preaparation: Select firm, ripe tomatoes for freezing, discard any that are spoiled or bruised. Wash them in clean water and dry by blotting them with a clean cloth or paper towels. Tomatoes do not need to be blanched before freezing, but if freezing whole tomatoes with peels, cut away the stem scar.
Place the tomatoes on cookie sheets to freeze. Once frozen, transfer from cookies sheets into freezer bags or containers. Seal tightly. To use frozen tomatoes, remove them from the freezer all at once or a few at a time. To peel, just run a frozen tomato under warm water in the sink. It’s skin will slip off easily.
How about some melons? Choose a favorite like cantaloupe, Crenshaw, honeydew or watermelon.
Preparation: Select firm-fleshed, well-colored, ripe melons. Cut in half, and remove seeds and rind. Cut melons into slices, cubes or balls.
Pack into freezer-stable containers, leaving headspace. Seal and freeze.
Of course, you’ll want some green beans this winter! To freeze green beans: steam green beans for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let them cool thoroughly before placing them in freezer bags and storing them in your freezer.
And blueberries for pancakes are a must!
Freeze blueberries: place fresh berries in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Freeze them right from the sheet – be sure to not wash before freezing. Once frozen, transfer to a re-sealable freezer bag and store in the freezer.
While not a summer staple, bananas will often turn quickly in the summer hear. Don’t fret; they can be frozen for later use as well. Just pop them in the freezer, peel and all; or peel them and then freeze them. Either way will work. If you decide to freezer your bananas in their peel, the peel will turn black; but it won’t affect the bananas in the least.
With all this food saved, wintertime is looking pretty good.
Fresh Perspectives September 2013
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