You’re ready to preserve some of Michigan’s bounty, right? Some Michigan produce is super simple to preserve by just washing and freezing. That’s it!!
A variety of Michigan fruits can be frozen for smoothies, snacks, and desserts year round: strawberries, cherries, pears, peaches, seedless grapes, and blueberries.
Freeze up shelled peas, shredded zucchini, bell peppers, hot peppers, tomatoes – even chopped onions, with little preparation time. The vegetables are good for use in cooking; you’d not put them on a salad, because they’ll be watery. But, the summer taste is still there!
It’s a simple process. Wash the produce listed above and remove stems, pits, and the like. If you are freezing a larger item such as pear or pepper, cut it into bit sized chunks. Tomatoes can be left whole.
Dab them dry. Then, let them sit on a towel for an hour or so to continue to dry off as much as possible. If they go into the freezer wet, I’ve found that they tend to frost up and get that dulled down ‘freezer-burned’ taste.
Put them on cookie sheets, in the freezer, making sure that the pieces are not touching each other. Freezing this way will ensure that they’re not stuck in a clump when you want to defrost them. When they’re frozen solid, put them in freezer containers for storage. Thaw them in the refrigerator or for a short time on the counter. I sometimes defrost food in my dehydrator, so they thaw quicker and with less moisture. Soft items, such as cherries, can be eaten frozen. If you have a high-speed blender, you often don’t need to thaw the fruit for smoothies.
For zucchini, shred it and freeze it in the amount you need in a recipe for zucchini bread or fritters.
For garlic scapes, cut them into several pieces and discard the flower head. Put the pieces of each scape in individual small plastic bags. Collect the small bags into a larger container and freeze. Use one or two – depending on how much garlic flavor you want in the dish – to replace a garlic clove.
Do this, and you’ll have fruits on hand for last minute desserts, tomatoes for stews, and you won’t have to eat those tasteless, imported, bell peppers found in stores during the winter.