Spring has quickly turned to summer, and I’m realizing (with great pleasure!) that seasonal flavors are back in full force. Sure, I’m a huge fan of strawberries year-round, but there’s nothing like the taste of a freshly-picked, perfectly ripe strawberry in June. It’s juicier, sweeter, and brighter in color than its off-season counter-part…and I want to savor that goodness as long as I can.
Plus, in-season produce means LOTS of harvest will be available, for a limited time only (I’m still waiting for another too-good-to-be-true deal like last year, when I picked up 8 pints of delicious in-season strawberries for a dollar.)
Today I have an incredibly useful technique to share which allows you to preserve your food in a way that you’ll be able to easily use the exact amount you need later: flash freezing.
Take last week’s bananas, for example. Jon and I didn’t eat as many of them as I expected, and they were starting to get very ripe. Now, you know I don’t like to waste food. If I put all the peeled bananas in a freezer bag and froze them, they’d freeze into a solid lump, forcing me to thaw all seven at once when I was ready to use them (or alternately, bang the frozen bunch of bananas against the counter until it breaks into the size I want to use…not the safest endeavor, for me or my countertop.)
This is where flash freezing comes in. I placed the peeled bananas on a thin cutting board (any flat tray will work), and made sure they weren’t touching. I put the entire tray in the freezer for about two hours. Once the bananas were already frozen*, then I put them together in a freezer bag.
The next time we want to make a smoothie, we just pull one or two bananas out of the bag—no need to thaw the whole group or risk breaking god-knows-what in an attempt to break the clump.
This works spectacularly well with any food you want to freeze, but want to choose your quantity to thaw later. In fact, this is how store-bought peas, corn and carrots are frozen in such a way that you can open the bag and pour out one piece at a time rather than a large mass.
Use flash-freezing for:
- Individual pieces of uncooked chicken or other meat
- Portions of cooked meat like cubed chicken or ham
- Berries of all kinds
- Grapes and other fruit (bonus: frozen grapes make a great summer snack)
- Brats or sausage links
- Bread and buns
- Vegetable pieces like broccoli, asparagus or carrots (in most cases, you’ll want to blanch them first, aka submerge in boiling water for 30 seconds to 2 minutes to cook)
- Raw veggies to use for future meals like onions or peppers
You get the idea? Now, go find some juicy summer flavors and try it out yourself.
* My friend asked if I would like a frozen banana. I said no. But I would like a regular banana later, so….yeah. NAME THAT COMEDIAN without cheating and using the internet (honor system!) and I’ll give you a 10% off coupon for my Etsy shops.