Written by 7:12 pm Wealth Building Views: [tptn_views]

Already Missing Summer? You Can Preserve It in Your Freezer.

Parsley — the herb I take advantage of most, week out and in — is nearly never on my shopping list as of late. And the last time I purchased canned tomatoes was probably 20 years ago.

It isn’t any coincidence that it has been about that long since a precious portion of my garlic harvest began sprouting in storage, deteriorating before I could use all of it.

What do all of this stuff have in common? The food-preservation power of the freezer, which enables me to store homegrown ingredients for a year-round supply, minimizing food waste.


Maybe this sounds familiar. You end up craving a little bit of cilantro to simmer with the black beans, or some parsley or chives for a frittata or omelet, but there’s none — especially outside of garden season. My experiments in freezing began there, with the will to have green herbs available to enliven such dishes, or simply to take tonight’s salad dressing up a notch.

Now you’ll find various herbal packets and potions in freezer bags and jars at the hours of darkness, zero-degree space above my refrigerator. A gallon bag of vegetable trimmings, including onion ends and peels and carrot tops, is at all times within the works in there, too, destined to turn out to be vegetable stock. That’s also where I keep my secret ingredient: the mostly scooped-out skin of the most recent roasted Butternut squash, which makes the broth sweeter, richer and more golden.

Waste not, want not — taken to the acute.

Frozen herbs aren’t a super substitute in every situation. Defrosted pieces of flat-leaf Italian parsley — Gigante D’Italia is my preferred variety — won’t play a job among the many greens in my salad the way in which the fresh ones do.

But as an ingredient in lots of recipes, they’re superb. So I freeze chives, dill, parsley, basil, oregano, cilantro, sage and mint.

Whatever the herb, make sure you rinse it first. Then dry it in a salad spinner or on dish towels. Remove the specified portions — often the leaflets — from the stems, as you’d for every other use. I actually have had good results simply tucking many sorts of herb foliage in double-layered freezer bags, with all the air expressed; I chop and stash chives in four-ounce canning jars.

An easy, versatile method is to purée virtually any herb in a food processor with a little bit olive oil, after which freeze as you’d an ice cube. These cubes could be knocked out for storage in double bags. A dollop of defrosted cilantro garnishing a bowl of winter squash garam masala soup is a treat.

Or make a pesto, with garlic and grated cheese added. Some cooks worry that herbs frozen with extra ingredients won’t taste as fresh after a month or two, but as someone who has defrosted and spread many a pesto cube on toast to brighten a winter day — or slathered a pizza crust within the making with one when no fresh basil is available — I disagree.

Water-based cubes are one other variation. Add a little bit liquid when puréeing, or simply press the chopped leaves into ice-cube trays and canopy them with water, topping each compartment up with more after it freezes, to cover the inevitable green bits that emerge.

Let the herb and its intended end use dictate which method and ingredients you select. Basil, for one, seems to carry up higher in an olive-oil base (and is traditionally combined with it in cooking). But using olive oil with mints, including lemon balm, seems a mismatch.

I freeze some herbs, including parsley, in a couple of form: as pesto cubes and in addition in my go-to concoction that I call parsley logs.

To make your individual, stuff whole leaflets which were washed and dried into the underside of a sandwich-size bag — enough to form a dense, log-shaped mass that’s between 1 / 4 and half-dollar size in diameter. Then roll the bag around it, seal it tightly and reinforce it with rubber bands.

After it’s frozen, slice a disk or two from the top of the log as needed, after which wrap it back up and return it to the freezer. Compressed herbs which are frozen this fashion — I’ve done cilantro, chives and dill foliage, too — are easy to cut later, if desired.

Other possibilities: June’s hardneck garlic scapes can turn out to be pesto. And so can arugula or sorrel.

Ever have leftover ginger that might wither before the subsequent time you would like it? Peel, slice and bag it, and put it within the freezer, too.

Store-bought or homegrown lemongrass, trimmed and cut up, may also be frozen — as can extra scallions.

Multiple aspects figure into how long garlic will last, including the plants’ condition at harvest. But softneck garlic varieties can generally be stored for longer than hardneck garlic, so use the hardneck first or plan to preserve some.

The first time I froze whole, peeled garlic cloves, it was attempted triage — a panicky rescue operation. One February, a few of the previous summer’s harvest was showing signs of sprouting. I knew the present yr’s crop wouldn’t be ready until late July, meaning a monthslong supply gap.

With nothing to lose, I peeled the person cloves and tossed them within the tiniest amount of olive oil, to barely coat them. My instinct — that this could minimize freezer burn — wasn’t based on any expert research, but it surely proved sound. I packed them in glass canning jars, and have frozen a portion of my harvest that way every yr since.

When I’m preparing to freeze whole cloves, I don’t smash them to loosen the skin, the way in which I’d if I were going to make use of them instantly. Instead, I break apart the heads and employ the noisy but fairly effective method that Saveur magazine popularized a dozen or so years ago: Placing them in a metal bowl, I cover it with a second, inverted bowl and shake madly. This works best if the garlic isn’t fresh from the garden; waiting a few months means the cloves may have shrunk a little bit, loosening the skins.

Another freezing option: Mince the garlic or make a paste within the food processor, adding a little bit olive oil, after which freeze the mixture as cubes or dollops dropped on a baking sheet, transferring it later to bags.

But I really like the entire cloves essentially the most — and never just as an ingredient. Miraculously, they’ll go straight from the freezer into an oiled pan, they usually roast beautifully, each a mouthful of sweetness with that Allium twist.

My triage adventure also taught me to store net bags of harvested garlic at a cooler temperature than I had before. Garlic won’t last within the pantry greater than a few months. The ideal spot is dark, dry and cold — somewhere between just above freezing and about 38 degrees, with humidity at 60 percent or lower. That’s a difficult environment to simulate at home, so I make use of a room above my barn that’s kept at about 40 degrees all winter.

A final Allium lesson: Any onions that look as in the event that they intend to sprout are immediately chopped and frozen — or cut into chunks, with the skins on, and tossed into that soup-stock ingredient bag.

From the beginning, using the freezer yielded impressive results with little effort. Soon I finished canning a yr’s price of applesauce and tomato sauce, my two mainstay recipes. The same jars that after held apples and tomatoes for processing in a hot-water bath now do the job in suspended frozen animation, inside one in all two three-cubic-foot freezers that support my freezer obsession.

And then there’s what I call Tomato Junk, a type of mad-stash last haul, transformed inside freezer tubs into colourful bricks of frozen goodness. Each vintage is a little bit different, depending on what’s around for the picking before the primary frost warning. All are useful.

Tomato Junk could be used to begin soups, stews or chili — or most recipes that decision for canned fruits. I gather tomatoes, after all, and herbs, zucchini and whatever else I can find. I actually have made batches with added peppers (labeled “for chili”) or with celery and carrots, broccoli or green beans and kale (“for vegetable soup”).

To make your individual variety, sauté some onion and garlic in olive oil. Once they soften, add tomato wedges. After those soften, too, and are simmering, add pieces of the opposite vegetables within the order of their required cooking times, harder ones first.

Add water if needed, but remember: Freezer space is probably going at a premium, and you possibly can at all times dilute the mixture later.

By now, all of last fall’s Tomato Junk is gone. The final freezer bag of 2022’s whole tomatoes — the best preservation approach to all, and the way I weaned myself off the supermarket canned version — just became a weeknight pasta sauce.

Other tomatoes get the deluxe (but still easy) treatment, making their way into the freezer within the roasted, herbed form that an old friend, Alana Chernila, taught me, from her cookbook “The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making.”

Cut the tomatoes into wedges (or leave them whole, in case you’re using cherry types). Arrange them flesh side up on a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet garnished with garlic cloves, oil, salt and herbs, and roast them in a 275-degree oven for several hours. Once cooled, they go straight right into a freezer bag.

The exhumed frozen bag will turn out to be pasta sauce or (with the addition of cream) tomato soup — the final word endpoint for the previous summer’s garden bounty, with a supporting role played by the ever-talented freezer.


Margaret Roach is the creator of the web site and podcast A Way to Garden, and a book of the identical name.

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