Test Kitchen Tips
16 Farmers Market Foods You Should Stockpile & Freeze
You might be surprised to learn which summer staples are freezer-friendly. You can enjoy them all year long!
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We all have favorite fruits and vegetables that we can’t seem to get enough of during summer. By winter we start to miss ’em, especially when it’s near impossible to get our hands on the good stuff. Luckily, many fleeting summer foods are freezable. So stock up on that summer harvest! You can find our basic freezer tips here, plus the best ways to freeze all sorts of produce below.
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Ready to harvest in early summer, oh so good year-round. To freeze asparagus, wash the stems thoroughly, then blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes, until tender when pierced with a knife. Drop them in an ice bath to cool quickly. To keep them from sticking together, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze for one to two hours. Transfer to freezer bags. Blanched asparagus will keep in the freezer for up to a year. (Here’s the best way to prep fresh asparagus.)
You can freeze avocados, but they’ll lose some of their buttery creaminess. The best way to freeze an avocado is in puree form. Puree with lemon or lime juice and freeze in tightly sealed containers. It may not taste fresh enough to be avocado toast-worthy, but you can use them in smoothies, baby food or salad dressings. (Here are more delish avocado recipes.)
Ripe bananas freeze very well. Peel off the skins and freeze in freezer bags. Next time you’re ready to make a smoothie, plop one in for extra creaminess. They’re also great in banana bread and other treats.
Most berries freeze like a dream. Think strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. For the most part, they don’t lose too much flavor or texture, so frozen fruits taste great atop yogurt or oatmeal, whirred into smoothies or baked into a crumble or pie (yep, you can definitely bake a pie with frozen fruit). To ensure they don’t clump, spread them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and freeze in a single layer. Once firm, toss into bags to store.
Dark Leafy Greens
Dark greens such as kale, spinach and chard do well in the freezer. (They are superfoods, after all!) Blanch in boiling water, shock in a bowl of ice water, then squeeze out as much of the water as possible. Pack into tight small balls and store in freezer bags. Thaw before adding to stir-fries, soups or sautes.
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While drying herbs is the most common way to preserve them, freezing them in ice cube trays is another genius way of saving your bounty. Finely chop the herbs, place them in ice trays, cover with olive oil or water, and freeze. You can keep them in the trays and cover with plastic wrap, or remove them and store the cubes in a freezer bag. Frozen herbs are great to drop in sauces, soups and stews. (We’ve got another 50-plus ideas here.)
Frozen grapes make the best snack! If you don’t believe me, you’ll have to try for yourself. To freeze grapes, wash, let dry thoroughly, and spread out on a baking sheet to freeze overnight. Transfer frozen grapes to an airtight container or bag. Grab a handful for a quick, frosty snack.
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Green Beans and Peas
Green beans and peas freeze well, retaining their snap and crunch even after a few months under frost. Wash, drop in boiling water, drain and cool quickly in a bowl of ice water. (For peas, shell before blanching.) Then freeze in bags. Toss green beans right into a skillet or another tasty recipe to heat them back up.
Lemons and Limes
You can freeze the zest of lemons and limes in an airtight container. For the juice, squeeze into ice cube trays and freeze. (Try these other ice-cube ideas now!) Alternatively, you can quarter lemons and freeze them tightly wrapped. The thawed lemons may be a little mushy, but their juice will be fine.
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Peppers lose a bit of pep if frozen raw, but they’ll still taste delicious on top of a pizza or in a stir-fry. (Just wash and chop or slice the raw peppers before freezing.) Roasted peppers freeze very well. Roast halved peppers until soft, peel away the skins and seeds and freeze the peppers in an airtight container. Pour in any roasting juices; these will help preserve the tender texture.
If you’re ever craving rhubarb in winter for those delicious cobblers and pies, you’ll be thankful to know that you can indeed freeze it. All you need to do is wash and peel the tough outer skin of the rhubarb, remove the ends, and dice into small pieces. Store in freezer bags. Pro tip: if you always make a particular rhubarb recipe (maybe one of these favorites), bag up the exact quantity of rhubarb needed for one batch, and feel like a genius at prep time!
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Stone fruits such as peaches, nectarines and cherries also freeze well. For fruits with a thicker skin, peel first and slice into quarters before freezing. This makes thawing speedier. For cherries and other fruits without noticeable skins, remove the pit or stone before freezing on a baking sheet.
While Grandma probably saved all her tomatoes using canning recipes, you can freeze tomatoes too! For a classic method, quickly blanch in boiling water, shock in ice water, and peel the skins. Freeze the results, and they’ll be ready to use in your next sauce, soup or stew. You can also freeze whole tomatoes, skin on-just wash them and pop them, double-bagged, in the freezer. Frozen tomatoes are best for cooking, not for slicing into a tomato sandwich. You can also roast tomatoes in big batches, then freeze in bags or jars.
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You can freeze zucchini, but it’s very watery, so it doesn’t freeze well unless prepared correctly. Chop zucchini and blanch in boiling water for a couple minutes. Blanching deactivates the enzymes that would otherwise make the zucchini mushy and discolored. Freeze zucchini in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat; transfer to a freezer bag or container once frozen. You can also freeze raw grated zucchini to add moisture to baking batter, like in this chocolate zucchini bread.
With a freezer full of produce, you’ll be able to enjoy a taste of summer all year long!