Feb 6, 2019

Freezing Fresh Produce

Living Well: 11 Secrets To Properly Freezing Produce

May 29, 2013
How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom

Images and text by Lindsey Johnson for Design Mom.
When I was a little girl, I loved going to my Grandma Maxie’s house. There was always something yummy to eat, especially during the summer when her garden was brimming with strawberries, rhubarb, peaches, and all sorts of veggies. I used to pass by the giant (ancient) freezer on my way through the garage to the backyard and I would stop, open it, and gaze at the stacks and stacks of square freezer containers with green or yellow lids. Each had tape around it and was labeled with the contents. My favorite, no surprise, was her strawberry and raspberry freezer jam.
How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom
Now that I’m a mom, I enjoy taking my kids to local pick-your-own farms to pick fruits and vegetables. Along with the harvest from our garden and stops at roadside stands and farmers markets, we end up with a lot of summer fruit and vegetables that we want to preserve and enjoy throughout the year, not just during the summer. While I really enjoy canning now and again, I’ve really been channeling my grandmother the past few years and taken freezing food to a new level.
How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom
There’s a reason for that. I find that some things are quicker to preserve when freezing, like berries. And other produce is fresher tasting and the quality is a bit better when freezing instead of canning. Plus, confession: I just don’t like canned veggies all that much. So, freezing it is!
How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom
Remember last summer when we covered the basics of washing and storing produce? Consider this the companion to that post.
As with canning, freezing produce requires a little bit of planning and gathering the proper equipment. While canning relies on heat to kill microbes, which then also destroys some of the nutritional value, freezing delays the growth of bacteria and slows the work of enzymes, which keeps the food preserved. That’s not to say that frozen food isn’t as safe as canned food. It’s just a different way to do it.
How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom
A big plus for freezing produce is that it ends up tasting much fresher and contains more nutrients than canned produce.
But there is a draw back as well. The texture of thawed veggies and fruit can be undesirable. In the process of freezing, the water within the fruits and veggies turns to ice. As it does, it expands which causes cell walls to burst. This can equal mushy texture when thawed.
But there are steps you can take to ensure higher quality frozen fruits and veggies — similar to the ones you buy at the grocery store. And we’ll cover those below.
How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom
First let’s talk about the materials you’ll need to assemble before you start.

How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom
GATHER MATERIALS
Secret #1: Something great thing about freezing fruits and vegetables is that you don’t really need fancy equipment. Freezer bags come in handy for “dry pack” freezing that doesn’t involve using syrups or purees. Rigid plastic (and sometimes glass) containers and jars come in handy for liquid or semi-solid foods, sauces, jams, and other preserves.
I stocked up on both sorts of containers (including some pretty awesome jars for freezer jam) and plastic freezer bags at Target.
How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom
In addition to containers, I also recommend freezer paper, freezer tape, and heavy-duty foil. They come in handy for packaging certain foods and for long-term storage. Long term means longer than the typical 6-12 months. The longer you store the food in the freezer, the more the quality declines, but it is still perfectly fine to eat.
Another essential for me is a rimmed baking sheet. I use it to quickly freeze individual pieces of whole or sliced produce. More on that in a bit.
Again, I found all the materials I needed for this post — from bowls, to markers, to baking sheets — at Target.
How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom
PREPARE THE FOOD
You’ll want to wash all fruits and vegetables well, especially if you don’t plan on peeling them, and pat them dry with a paper towel or dishtowel. Some fruits and vegetables can be frozen whole, while others need to be peeled, pitted, and/or cut into smaller pieces. A bit of it is personal preference, but some produce definitely does better in the freezer when cut into smaller pieces.
How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom
Secret #2: Fruits and veggies that do exceptionally well frozen whole:
Berries (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, currants, cranberries, etc.), bananas, chili peppers, beans, asparagus, tomatoes, and corn.
How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom
Secret #3: Produce that does well sliced or diced:
Bell peppers, avocado, mango, pineapple, melon, peas, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, stone fruits (peaches, nectarines, plums, cherries), apples (yes, you can freeze apples!), summer squash, and winter squash.
How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom
Cut broccoli and cauliflower into florets. Shell peas, trim the ends of green beans and asparagus. Dice or slice peeled carrots, squash, brussels sprouts, and large leaves of spinach, chard, and kale. Rhubarb should be trimmed of woody ends and diced.
How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom
Potatoes can be frozen, but benefit from being shredded. Think: hashbrowns. (Note: I personally don’t like freezing potatoes at home. The quality just isn’t as good.) Zucchini is another veggie with a high water content. It can be sliced or diced and frozen, but I prefer shredding it instead.
How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom
Corn and bananas are pretty versatile when it comes to freezing. Corn can be frozen whole or cut from the cob.  It’s totally up to you!  I think it’s one of the best veggies for freezing because the quality isn’t as affected by the cold temperatures.
How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom
Bananas can be frozen whole and unpeeled, or peeled and whole, or peeled and cut. They’re pretty fabulous that way! I can’t resist adding a frozen banana to my daily smoothie to sweeten it up without adding sugar.
How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom
After fruits and veggies have been peeled, sliced and diced, as needed, there are a few more preparation steps.
Secret #4: Most vegetables also need to be blanched before freezing. Blanching is nothing more than plunging vegetables into a pot of boiling water, letting them cook briefly (3-4 minutes max), and transferring them to a big bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.
Why is this important? Remember that mushiness I mentioned earlier? This will help with that, but it also helps maintain the color and nutrients, as well as killing any surface organisms that could lead to spoilage.
Corn (though you could), tomatoes, onions, potatoes (including sweet), and winter squash don’t need to be blanched. And neither do fruits.
How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom
Leafy greens don’t have to be cooked, but they can be. But one thing is for sure, quickly sauteing spinach, for instance, really saves on space! Pictured above is four ounces of spinach cooked and fresh.
How to: Pureed Spinach Cubes for Green Smoothies
Something I saw a few months ago (and a few of you lovely readers mentioned to me) that I think is brilliant, is making spinach ice cubes to add to smoothies. I usually just put the greens into my smoothie packs, but I finally tried this and I’m hooked! Simply add a whole bunch of leafy greens to a blender with enough water to make a smooth puree and freeze. Easy peasy!
I also like to roast some foods before I freeze them. I’ve done this with tomatillos, plums, tomatoes, and peppers. I will either puree them into a sauce or freeze them as is, juices and all.
How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom
Secret #5: In canning, foods are treated with citric acid, lemon juice, or ascorbic acid to help kill microorganisms and prevent discoloration. The same rings true with freezing. Think of all of your favorite fruits that turn brown after being cut — bananas, avocado, peaches and nectarines, apples, etc.  They benefit from a quick dip into acidulated water.
How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom
Make a solution of 1/2 teaspoon ascorbic acid (found in the pharmacy or canning section of grocery stores) per 3 Tablespoons of water, or 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice in 4 cups (1 quart) water. Sprinkle or dip the fruit with the solution and let dry.
How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom
FREEZING
First up, Dry Pack freezing, where we start by talking about IQF, or Individually Quick Frozen. The idea behind this is simple: if a fruit/veggie is frozen in a single layer (whole or sliced), it will freeze more quickly. Secret #6: Freezing quickly is great because a) fruits and veggies are easy to thaw out if they aren’t frozen together in a big lump, and b) the quality is better after thawing.
How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom
All you do is place everything you want to freeze in a single layer on a lined baking sheet. Lined, so that what you’re freezing doesn’t stick to the pan.
The goal is to freeze the food as quickly as possible. Adjusting the temperature of the freezer ahead of time is a good idea. You want to ensure that it’s as cold as possible — at least 0 degrees F or lower. You also want to make sure there is plenty of air circulation for even freezing, so it’s better not to layer a bunch of bags or containers in the freezer at once. Doing it over the course of a day or a few days is a good idea.
Be sure to not open the freezer as the produce is freezing on the baking sheets. You really want them to freeze as quickly as possible without fluctuating temperatures. When the food is frozen, transfer to containers or bags and place the bags back in the freezer.
Removing air from containers and bags will help keep frozen food last that much longer and help prevent hoar frost from forming.
How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom
Secret #7: Another option is Wet Pack freezing, or freezing fruit in a sugar syrup. The recipe for the syrup is the same as you’d use when canning. All of the steps are the same as with canning, except no cooking needed. It’s so easy to do!
How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom
Of course I can’t talk about freezing produce without talking about freezer jam. In the winter months, it’s really wonderful to pull out a jar or container of freezer jam made from summer fruit. We really enjoy making jam at our house and it is another great way to enjoy frozen fruit.
I also freeze fruit and vegetable purees (including baby food when my kids were tiny), soups, sauces and other condiments, like fresh salsa.
How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom
LABELING & STORING
Secret #8: You’ll want to label the bags and containers with the date and the contents. You might think you’ll remember what it is, but six months down the road it might be more difficult to remember what was in each bag or container.
How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom
Freezer tape will stay on the containers despite the cold temperature and the moisture. I like to run tape around the containers too, to keep out air and prevent hoar frost. Wrapping bags and containers in foil and taping will also help with that.
How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom
I like to use resealable freezer bags a lot when I freeze produce. They’re easy and inexpensive. Secret #9: Both bags and containers should be packed full. Remove as much air as possible. A trick I learned is to use a straw to suck all of the air from the bag and then quickly close it.
How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom
For containers, removing air is a bit challenge without the help of a vacuum device. A vacuum sealer is definitely the way to go for long-term storage — both for bags and containers. It is worth the extra expense to purchase a device if you do a lot of freezing. Removing the extra air and sealing fruit and veggies individually in plastic packaging yields a lot better results than the freezer bags alone. (My grandma swears by it!)
Secret #10: When using containers, be sure to leave enough headspace to allow for the liquids to expand as it freezes.
How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom
STORAGE TIME & THAWING
Typically in a basic freezer, frozen fruits and veggies will last a very long time. As time passes, the food doesn’t become inedible, but the quality does deteriorate. If you plan on keeping frozen foods for a long time, a deep freeze might be a better bet as it has lower temperatures and is opened less often.
Secret #11: Fruit will keep well for a year, and veggies will keep for about 18 months. (I’ve had some keep for much, much longer.)
How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom
When thawing, know that fruits are better eaten when still a little frozen so they aren’t completely mushy. Or you can cook them into sauces, or add them to smoothies. Vegetables are best cooked straight from the freezer, no thawing.
Some vegetables suffer no ill effects from freezing — corn and peas, particularly. Others will be better in recipes where they will break down and be consumed in smaller pieces, like soups, stews and sauces. There’s nothing easier than pulling a bag of broccoli, carrots and cauliflower straight out of the freezer and toss them right into a Thai curry.
How to Properly Freeze Fruits & Veggies. 11 Secrets!  |  Design Mom
Well there we have it. Everything you need to know to get your summer harvest stocked away for the winter.
What about you? Does all this talk about freezing fruits and veggies take you right back to summers at your grandma’s house? Do you prefer canning? Any tips or secrets you’ve learned along the way? I’d love to know!
P.S. — Love secrets? You can find all of the other posts in the Living Well series here.

Feb 10, 2015

BugOut Bag and Gear to Survive




The Survival Gear You Need


Leaving your shelter, leaving your home during a crisis is counter to your instincts and to what many experts recommend. However, there may be situations where staying in your home or even in your community is life threatening.
Making the decision to leave your home may well be one of the most difficult decisions you make during a disaster. Situations that may force you to leave your home can include a nuclear detonation where radioactive fallout is a threat along with a chemical or biological attack. Natural threats that can force you from your home can include the threat of tsunamis, flooding from heavy rains or tidal surges and destructive winds.

Create a Bug Out Plan

Some individuals and families will convince themselves they would never leave their home under any circumstance. This means they have not planned for evacuation because they refuse to accept the fact they may have to. Once reality strikes however, and the disaster is looming, people will evacuate.
Without the proper planning, you can flee one crisis only to be thrust into another. Start now looking at alternative locations (bug-out-locations). Use online mapping software that shows terrain and natural resources along with population density to help you find an area to evacuate too.
State and federal parks are one option as well as using property that friends or family may own. Once you leave your area because of a disaster you simply cannot drive aimlessly around you must have a destination in mind. You should be able to get to the location using only have of a tank of fuel and the other half is for getting back home or moving from the alternative location. Service stations may not be in operation, and if they are, there may be a fuel shortage, so do not assume you can refuel along the route.
Locate parks that are far enough away from large metropolitan areas to be safe from nuclear, chemical or biological fallout.
Map out various routes to your destination, and make sure you avoid bridges, tunnels and elevated highways because you can become trapped in these areas. Use back roads as much as possible because most people will use the most logical routes, which will result in traffic jams.
In some circumstances, either you may have to travel on foot the entire way or part of the way if you find the highways and roads are blocked. Have bug-out-bags at the ready even if you can make your way out of the area by vehicle because you will need a way to carry supplies if your vehicle breaks down or the roads are blocked half way to your destination.
bug out map
Your bug out bag would be in addition to any supplies you have stockpiled in your home. Individuals and families tend to focus their efforts on stockpiling supplies in their homes and then find they have a problem if they have to evacuate. They simply do not know what to do with their supplies other than to leave them behind. You may have to leave quickly so having bags at the ready is critical. You will not have the time to begin packing if the situation in your area becomes hostile or otherwise dangerous.
You cannot depend on motels and hotels because they will fill up quickly. You should have the means in your packs to survive using your vehicle as shelter as well as tents and tarps if you find yourself at a national or state park.
This points out the importance of gaining knowledge and the skill sets to live away from your home during a crisis. Once you find yourself at a national or state park you must have the supplies, materials, skills and the knowledge to survive using the natural resources available. State and federal parks typical have areas ideal for camps, and will usually have surface water sources. In some cases, the parks may have structures throughout the park that can be used.
For more information on national parks, please visit http://www.nationalpark-adventures.com/united-states-national-parks.html

The Bug Out Bag Checklist

Each member of the family should have their own bag if they are old enough to carry one. Avoid having one person carry the water and one the food and so on. If a member becomes separated, from the family, you do not want them to have items critical to the entire family and the person lost must have emergency essentials so they can survive on their own as well. Make the packs identical.
  1. Each pack needs three days’ supply of water, which for hydration only is 1.5 gallons (two quarts daily)
  2. Three days’ supply of food such as protein bars, Meals Ready to Eat ( two per day for adults), beef jerky and peanut butter and crackers, avoid canned goods or foods that require water for preparation such as freeze dried or dehydrated foods
  3. Small one person tent or two tarps for shelter
  4. Two thermal (Mylar) blankets
  5. Rain poncho
  6. Whistle/signal mirror
  7. Communication device
  8. Knife/multi-tool
  9. Waterproof matches, lighters and alternative fire starting materials such as a magnesium stick or Ferro rods
  10. Lensatic compass and maps of the area, state and country
  11. Sleeping bag if room allows, roll tight and secure on the outside of the pack
  12. 50 feet of nylon rope
  13. Small camp axe/machete or folding wood saw
  14. Insect repellent and/or netting
  15. Person hygiene items and include hand sanitizer and bath wipes to avoid using water for bathing and hand cleaning
  16. Hat, work gloves, several bandanas, sun screen, lip balm and sunglasses
  17. First aid supplies and common over the counter medications for pain, stomach upset and allergies
  18. Water purification tablets
  19. Two stainless steel canteens that can be worn on a belt (can also be used to boil water for purification)
Bug Out Bag Checklist
Once again, the items in your bug-out-bag are in addition to any supplies you place in your vehicle and have stored inside your home.
Src:  http://homesteadandprepper.com/bugging-out-and-the-survival-gear-you-need/

Dec 23, 2014

Food Fails, Bad Food Managment


10 Most Common Emergency Food Fails
























Source: http://prepforshtf.com/top-10-common-emergency-food-fails-infographic/#.VJnj3uAN0DA

Prepare your Garden to Produce!



How To Prep Your Garden for ProDuce

 Source:http://www.foodstoragemoms.com/prepare-garden/

How To Prepare Your Garden so you are ready for planting next Winter or Spring by FoodStorageMoms.com
We all want to know how to prepare our garden so next year we can produce a great deal of fruit and vegetables for ourselves. It’s hard to believe it’s that time of year when we need  to clean out the garden, the flower beds, prune the trees, and fertilize. I will miss my fresh tomatoes, lettuce, basil and cucumbers. I didn’t get a lot of squash this year, it usually goes gang busters. Not this year though. I have a really small yard but it still takes time to clean out the garden and cut back shrubs that are overgrown. I have a few flower pots with perennials that I enjoy in the spring and summer. There is something amazing when you see those flower buds just about to bloom. Gotta love it! Do you love watching for the vegetable seeds to start peeking out of the soil? Life is good!

How To Prepare Your Garden so you are ready for planting next Winter or Spring by FoodStorageMoms.com
In case you are wondering, I live in the desert and therefore I chose to buy raised garden boxes. I used to have large gardens with a tiller and rows and rows of vegetables. I still grow enough vegetables for my family and a few neighbors. I would like to add some more raised garden boxes next year to grow even more vegetables. Let’s get started with what to do with your garden spots, etc. I love to “put my garden to bed” for the winter, so to speak. I believe if you take care of your yard you have respect for your neighbors. It is our responsibility to keep the neighborhood clean and weed free where we live. It helps with the values of our properties as well.
The first thing we need to do is remove the plants that are finished producing the vegetables we enjoyed through this last season. Add some extra soil, manure or compost to make your soil more productive next year. Till or cultivate the new products into your soil. You will notice I have coffee grinds shown below from a local coffee shop. They are FREE and you can pick them up all year round. They give the garden some extra nitrogen, but they also keep the neighbor cats out of my flower and raised garden beds. I sprinkled the coffee grinds on the top of the soil so the cats will stay out of my flower pots and garden areas.
How To Prepare Your Garden so you are ready for planting next Spring by FoodStorageMoms.com

Free Coffee Grinds

This picture below shows the clumps of the coffee grinds. They worked great for the entire summer to ward off the local cats from using them as a litter box. Yay!
How To Prepare Your Garden so you are ready for planting next Spring by FoodStorageMoms.com

Fresh Soil Then Coffee Grinds

Here I added some fresh soil to my flower pots and sprinkled the local coffee shop coffee grinds over the soil to keep the local cats out of my flowers. Coffee grinds keep the cats from using your soil as a litter box. I wanted to use something safe because I love animals. Just not in my garden and flower beds.
How To Prepare Your Garden so you are ready for planting next Spring by FoodStorageMoms.com

Cut Back Perennials-Prune Trees-Weed

It’s always sad to cut back my perennials, but if I cut them back now they will bloom and and have beautiful flowers to enjoy next year.
How To Prepare Your Garden so you are ready for planting next Spring by FoodStorageMoms.com

Take Care Of Garden Tools

Lastly, take care of your garden tools and they will last for years. Wash and dry them all before storing them for the winter.
How To Prepare Your Garden so you are ready for planting next Spring by FoodStorageMoms.com
Have you cleaned up your yard, pruned or weeded your yard yet? Its just starting to get really cold here….share some tips and I will add them to my list. Check out the garden areas of your local stores, this is a perfect time to pick up garden gloves half price.
Please visit Prepared-Housewives there is an article about Kohlrabi written by Mike the Gardener