How to Freeze Fruit & Vegetables

Freezing has advantages over other methods of home preserving of fruit and vegetables. It is simpler and quicker than heat preservation, and it suits small quantities that would be impractical to store by other means. Also, more of the true flavour, colour and appearance of the food is retained by freezing. 
 

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However, the cost of running a freezer must be taken into consideration. Make sure it pays its way by filling it with frozen garden produce: a full freezer will run more efficiently than one that is underused and kept half empty.

What to freeze
Most vegetables will freeze well after blanching. The main exceptions are salad vegetables, whose high water content makes them turn to mush when thawed. Tomatoes can be frozen, but whole fruits will not keep their shape and texture when thawed. Soft fruit and tree fruit can be frozen on their own, in sugar or syrup. You can also freeze several types of herbs, to add directly to a dish during cooking.

The freezer
First decide what type and what size of freezer will suit your needs; if you have sufficient space; and how much money you can allocate to keeping it stocked. Consider the freezer’s energy rating. Also remember that only a certain amount of unfrozen food can be added to the freezer at any one time. No more than a tenth of the total capacity of a freezer should be occupied by unfrozen food during a 24 hour period; a 100 litre freezer will take only 5 kg of unfrozen food in a day. This is enough for small batches of home-grown produce, but the total capacity of such a freezer is quite inadequate for most families.

Where to put the freezer- The kitchen is not necessarily the best place for a freezer, as it will use more electricity to keep its temperature low in the warm surroundings. The ideal place to site a freezer is a cool, well ventilated position. You can buy freezers with locks – a good idea if you have young children. Inside the house, you can fit lights or bells connected to an outside freezer to warn of any failures or power cuts. If you decide to put the freezer in a garage or shed, make sure the electric cables and fittings are sound and also adequate for the load. Follow the manufacturer’s advice, and if in doubt, consult a qualified electrician. The building must also be absolutely dry, otherwise machine parts will corrode.

Getting the freezer ready- Before using a new freezer, wash the inside with a solution of 4 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda dissolved in 1 litre warm water. Be sure to dry the freezer thoroughly, then switch it on and let it run for 12 hours to check that it is working properly before you stock it. Study the manufacturer’s leaflet so that you use the machine correctly. Unfrozen food will freeze more quickly if stacked loosely and packed in small quantities. Do not let it touch any frozen food already in the freezer; this may lead to temperature variations which could spoil the frozen food. Most foods freeze solid in 8 hours, after which they can be transferred to the storage section and stacked with the other contents of the freezer.

 
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