Freezing the Harvest

Sometimes you get more produce than you can use in a single week. Freezing is a great way to preserve the excess for future use.  Many vegetables require blanching or boiling before freezing.  Some vegetables, like tomatoes, are best cooked before they are frozen.  Below is some basic information about preserving the produce you will get as part of your Stearns Farm share.


Blanching:  For all vegetables, blanch first in boiling water with at least 4 quarts water in pot.  Dunk in ice cold water to cool them fast.  Then dry with a salad spinner.

Reheating:  Cook frozen vegetables in small amount of water or steam them.  Use shorter cooking times when reheating from frozen.

Boiling:  Cook without thawing.  Boil ½ cup water for each 1 pint of frozen vegetables.  Add vegetables, cover and begin to count cooking time when water returns to a boil.

  • Spinach:  3 minutes
  • Turnip greens:  15-20 minutes
  • Other greens:  8-12 minutes
  • Beans, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, corn, peas:  3-10 minutes
  • Summer squash:  Up to 12 minutes

Baking:  Partially defrost to separate pieces and put in buttered casserole.  Cover and bake at about 350 for 45 minutes.

Pan Fry: Use a heavy skillet with cover.  Put 1 tbs. Butter or olive oil for each 1 pint of frozen vegetables (which has thawed enough to separate in pieces).  Cook tightly covered over moderate heat.  Stir occasionally until tender.  Season to taste and serve right away.  Asparagus, broccoli and peas cook in about 10 minutes.  Beans cook in about 15-20 minutes.

Freezing Preparation:

SNAP/STRING/GREEN BEANS:  Cut in 1 or 2 inch pieces or lengthwise strips or leave whole if very young and tender.  Blanch 3 minutes.  Cool immediately and drain well.  Leave ½ inch headroom in bag.  Seal and freeze.

BEETS:  Baby ones are worth freezer space.  Wash and sort for size; maximum 3 inches in size.  Small are best.  Leave on tails and ½ inch of stem so the juice won’t bleed out while boiling.  Boil until tender, about 25-30 minutes for small ones and 45-50 minutes for medium.  Cool quickly.  Slip off skins, trim and cut in slices or cubes.  Leave ½ inch of headroom for cubes and no headroom for whole or sliced.  Seal and freeze.

BROCCOLI:  Peal coarse stalks and trim off leaves and blemishes; split if necessary.  Salt and soak for ½ hour to drive out bugs and wash well.  (Use 1 tbs. salt for each 1 quart cold water).  Sort for uniform spears or cut up.  Blanch in steam for 5 minutes for stalks.  Blanch in boiling water 3 minutes for stalks.  Reduce time for cut up or chopped.  Cool immediately and drain.  Leave no headroom for spears or large chunks.  Arrange stalks so blossom ends are divided between either end of the container.  Leave ½ inch headroom for cut up or chopped as they have less air space.

CARROTS:  Remove tops, wash and peel.  Leave baby ones whole and cut others into ¼ inch cubes, thin slices or lengthwise strips.  Blanch tiny whole ones for 5 minutes and 2 minutes for diced, slices or lengthwise strips.  Cool immediately and drain.  Leave ½ inch headroom in pack.  Seal and freeze.

GARDEN GREENS:  Remove imperfect leaves.  Trim away tough midribs and tough stems.  Cut large leaves, like chard, in pieces.  Wash carefully, lifting from the water to let silt settle.  Blanch spinach, kale, chart and beet or turnip greens for 2 minutes.  Cool immediately and drain.  Leave ½ inch headroom.  Seal and freeze.

GREEN PEAS:  Shell only sweet and tender ones.  Blanch for 1 ½ minutes.  Cool immediately and drain.  Leave ½ inch headroom.  Seal and freeze.

GREEN PEPPERS:  DO NOT BLANCH.  Cut out stems, cut in half and remove stems.  Leave in halves or cut in slices, strips, rings or dice.  Do not leave any headroom.  Seal and freeze.

HOT PEPPERS:  DO NOT BLANCH.  Wash and stem.  Do not leave headroom.  Seal and freeze.

PUMPKINS:  Wash whole pumpkin.  Cut or break in pieces.  Remove seeds and don’t peel.  Precook until soft in boiling water, steam or oven.  Scrape pulp from rind and mash through sieve.  Cool immediately.  Leave ½ inch headroom.  Seal and freeze.

SUMMER SQUASH AND ZUCCHINI:  Only young squash with small seeds can freeze.  Cut off blossom and stem ends.  Wash and cut in slices.  Blanch 3 minutes.  Cool and drain.  Leave ½ inch headroom.  Seal and freeze.

WINTER SQUASH:  Treat like pumpkin.

TOMATOES: DO NOT BLANCH.  Wash and cut up into sizes desired for casseroles or soups.  Also, cook down tomatoes and put through sieve to use as puree.  Leave ½ inch headroom.  Seal and freeze. Not recommended for fresh salad use since the flesh is ruptured by ice crystals and makes deflated mush when defrosted.

TURNIPS:  Freeze in cubes or fully cooked and mashed.  Cut off tops, wash and peel.  Cut in cubes to blanch or in large chunks to cook and mash before freezing.  Cubes blanch in 2 minutes.  To mash, cook in boiling water until tender.  Drain, mash or sieve.  Cool.  Leave ½ inch headroom for either.

Source: Putting Food By, Hertzberg, Vaughan & Greene 1973