Freezing the Vegetable and Herb Harvest

Freezing the Vegetable and Herb Harvest
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Freezing Veggie & Herb HarvestSeptember and October are a time of harvest in the garden. Whether it's your own harvest, your neighbors or a local farmer, this is the time to take advantage of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, potatoes, peppers, squash and many other homegrown vegetables.

After eating your fill of the fresh produce, consider freezing some to use during the cold months.

Most vegetables are easy to freeze, but some are easier than others. Tomatoes can be frozen whole, or cut into halves, without cooking. Simply wash, cut and store in freezer bags. They will be good for about six months. Remove from the freezer and prepare for cooked dishes as you would if they were fresh.  They don’t work well in recipes calling for fresh tomatoes.

Green tomatoes can be sliced and frozen with pieces of freezer paper between each slice in freezer bags or containers. These can be used to make fried green tomatoes.

Peppers can also be frozen whole, or chopped without cooking. They too will be good for about 6 months. Be sure to label the peppers, especially if you're freezing bell peppers and a hot variety. Remember to use gloves when handling hot peppers.

Shredded zucchini can be frozen without blanching and put into freezer bags for making breads and muffins. Any other form, such as cubes, should be blanched, but the grated zucchini freezes wonderfully. This is perfect for those large overgrown zucchini we all seem to find in our garden when we don't harvest fast enough.

Most vegetables will need to be blanched before freezing, but it's a simple, quick process. The vegetables are placed in boiling water for about 2 minutes, a minute for small vegetables such as peas, then quickly removed and dropped into a bowl of ice water. At this point they can be drained and placed into freezer bags or containers. Vegetables that freeze well using this method include:

Brussels sprouts

Pumpkin can be boiled and mashed, then stored in the freezer for up to three months. This is perfect for making pies and bread for the holidays. Sweet potatoes can be prepared and frozen in the same way.

I've also had success with freezing blackberries, raspberries and blueberries to use for baking and pancakes. I wash, drain and place them in freezer bags. Thawing isn't necessary before using, so they are perfect for morning pancakes and muffins.

Most herbs can be frozen for use in soups, stews and other cooked dished. Basil, chives, dill, mint, lemon balm, oregano, sage winter and summer, tarragon and thyme all can be frozen with success. Chop the herbs and place in freezer bags. Combine oregano, sage and thyme in one bag and use this for stuffing inside whole chickens or turkey when roasting.

Putting in a little work this fall will give you herbs, vegetables and fruit during the cold months of winter when we can only dream of the next harvest. Freezing saves money, and gives a cook more options when planning the family meals.



You may also enjoy:

Autumn Recipe Collection
Putting the Garden to Bed
Homegrown Vegetable Recipes
Butternut Squash - Butternut Squash Recipes


About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at


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