The bounty of the summer produce department, farmers markets and gardens is something most of us wish we could enjoy all year long. With proper food safety procedures, you can enjoy those fruits and vegetables a little longer.
Freezing is a great way to keep vegetables longer, but freezing alone does not destroy harmful pathogens that cause spoilage and lead to food poisoning. Vegetables should be blanched before they are frozen to keep them safe and protect their color, texture and flavor.
Blanching is when vegetables are subjected to boiling water or steam for a brief period, and then rapidly placed in ice water to stop the cooking process. This process helps destroy any microorganisms present on the vegetables surface. It is important to follow the recommended times for blanching for each vegetable. Overcooking can result in lost flavor, color and most importantly - nutrients. Undercooking can cause the enzymes to continue ripening the food.