“No Lids? Freezing Easy Way to Preserve Food”
Canning lids have been in short supply. What if you can’t locate any and your vegetables are ready to preserve?
Manufacturers are working hard to deliver canning lids throughout the U.S., but freezing food is a safe, easy option as long as you have the freezer space.
Freezing is one of the easiest, most convenient and least time-consuming ways of preserving fresh fruit and vegetables for later use.
The cold stops the growth of microorganisms and slows changes that spoil food and affect food quality.
First, select fresh, firm fruit or vegetables that are free of damage. Freeze them within a few hours of harvest if possible.
Some vegetables freeze better than others. For example, thawed cabbage, celery, cucumbers, endive, lettuce, parsley and radishes are limp and water-logged, and quickly develop an oxidized color, aroma and flavor.
Plastic freezer containers and plastic bags designed for freezer storage are best for freezing food. Don’t use paper containers, such as milk cartons, or plastic containers that held yogurt, dips and sour cream. Freezer wrap and heavy-weight aluminum foil are good for odd-shaped foods.
Rinse fruits and vegetables under running water and drain thoroughly before freezing them. Don’t allow fruit to soak in water because soaking will cause the fruit to lose nutrients and flavor.
Stem, pit or slice fruit as necessary for the recipe you are using. Prepare only enough fruits and vegetables for a few containers at a time.
Blanch (scald in boiling water) vegetables to stop the action of enzymes that can cause loss of flavor, color and texture. The amount of blanching time will vary with the types of produce. Cool the vegetables quickly by plunging them in cold water and drain them after completing the cooling.
You have several ways to pack fruit for freezing: syrup pack, sugar pack, dry pack or unsweetened pack. To make syrup, dissolve sugar in water and pour it around and over fruit packed into a container. For a sugar pack, simply sprinkle sugar over the fruit and gently mix the fruit and sugar until juice is drawn out and the sugar is dissolved.
To dry pack, pack the fruit into containers, seal and freeze. This method works best with berries and smaller fruits that have good flavor without sugar.
Some fruits, such as peaches, apricots, pears and apples, darken quickly when exposed to air and can darken when thawed. Adding ascorbic acid will prevent that discoloration.
When packing food into containers, leave space between the food and lid to allow the food to expand as it freezes. Make sure to label the containers with the name of the food, the date it was packed and the type of pack used.
The quality of most fruits and vegetables will remain high if they’re used within 12 months. As long as the food remains solidly frozen, it will be safe much longer.
For more information about freezing fruits and vegetables, visit the North Dakota State University Extension website at www.ag.ndsu.edu/food.
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