I have a crush on my freezers. It's true. I entrust them with protecting my home grown produce until I am ready to pull it out gallon bag by gallon bag and turning it into smoothie love for my family. I love them (my family and my freezers just to be crystal clear). In case you were wondering, yes, my freezers have names. They go by Zeus and Apollo.
My favorite freezer is Zeus, a 15 cubic foot chest freezer that is actually wired to be powered by a generator should something happen. I'm serious. I know that is so weird but it's a lot of work to pack that baby full of produce. Should the power go off, the last thing I want is my season worth of work to turn into thawed unusable bags of mush.
Two freezers? Yes, the other is Apollo, a small upright that houses the "last push" of the season. It's generally filled with zucchini, tomatoes and kale because those are the last three things I pack away before winter hits.
I also use the upright to freeze the cookie sheets piled high with produce. This is important because when I put trays of produce in the chest freezer ice crystals form from the moisture in the produce on the sides of the freezer. Thick patches of ice crystals make the chest freezer less efficient. It is also easier to slide trays in and out of the upright freezer. Further, I will be shutting off Apollo after about 5 months of use. As the crystals starts to build up in Apollo (it was 2-3 inches think last year), from all the moisture from the produce as it freezes, I don't have to freak out about efficiency because it wont be on all year long.
My upright freezer is only plugged in from peach season to about January. Peach season on is when I have up to 5 trays a day going in and out to be bagged and packed away. By January we have generally used enough out of both freezers that I can transfer everything into Zeus and pull the plug on Apollo.
WHAT IS MY FREEZING PROCESS?
I couldn't do this without my trusty Silpat. I actually have 4 Silpat's (or any other silicone baking sheet) and they exceed the awesome scale by a million. Siplats are silicone sheets that make it impossible for frozen fruit and veggies to stick to the bottom of your cookie sheet. This process would be a monster without the silicone baking sheet. The process looks like this equation: cookie sheet + silpat + fruit or veggie and place it in the freezer. Once they are frozen solid I break them up and place them into gallon zip top bags and stack them in the freezer. If you just place the produce in freezer bags and stick it in the freezer it's a terrible idea. It will freeze together as a solid brick of love. Except without the love because you will need a hammer and a chisel to pry stuff apart so you can get it in your blender.
I do not parboil and skin tomatoes OR skin anything else I freeze. We grow our stuff organically and I want the skin from the produce in my blender and in my body. The skin of the produce is where a good portion of the fiber is as well as tons of phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are plant based compounds the plant has developed to protect itself from disease, UV rays and pests. Phytonutrients are powerful in our own bodies putting the kibosh on damaging free radicals and strengthening our immune systems. Natural nutrients that can prevent and fight disease are the hidden treasures of goodness are hidden in the plant foods we eat or drink.
Click on the peaches to scroll through examples of the goodness my freezer holds!
The only thing I cram directly into a bag to freeze is kale.
I quarter tomatoes and freeze them. I slice and quarter zucchini. I chop kale and stuff it directly into the gallon bag, it will turn your knife green. I half apricots, well they naturally half themselves it's one of the reasons I love them so much. I usually cut peaches into 8ths. Berries are frozen whole. Plumbs are cut around the pit which is a pain but they are soooo tasty in smoothies and people generally hand you bags of them to just take them away from their yards. Pears are usually sliced into 8ths. You get the picture. Cut it, freeze it, bag it and stack it away in your freezer.
Whatever you can grow wherever you live in the world, it's possible pack your produce away so you can drink it all year long. It will make a powerful difference in your life.