I’m not suggesting that you’re lazy. Or that I’m lazy. But with everything you and I have to do every day, it’s nice to have the luxury of being lazy for once.
If you would like to preserve the fresh bounty from your garden, farmer’s market, or CSA share, but don’t want to add any more items to your to-do list, here are some vegetables and fruits you can freeze with minimal (if any) preparation. No blanching or freezing on cookies sheets here! Some of them don’t even involve chopping!
I hope these tips will help you make time in your life for other important things, like cooking dinner or taking a shower.
Eight Fruits and Vegetables You Can Freeze the Lazy Way
1. Bell Peppers
How: Just chop and throw into a freezer bag. Lay bag flat so they don’t all freeze in a clump (and if they do clump, just bang them on the counter).
Use in: Chicken Chili, Taco Soup, Omelets, Beef and Veggie Skillet, (un) Refried Beans
How: If your berries are organic or at least unsprayed, don’t even wash them! Just pick out any stems and leaves and throw into a freezer bag. No need to flash freeze on cookie sheets because the dry berries won’t stick together.
Use in: Crumbles, Muffins, Blueberry Banana Bars, Smoothies, Blueberry Banana Quinoa, Blueberry Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream, Blueberry Balsamic Vinaigrette
How: Grate them in the food processor, and freeze flat in a bag. Pull out just a handful to add to things. (This is great to do if you have some carrots getting mushy in your fridge!)
Use in: Sourdough Quiche, Carrot Apple Walnut Muffins, Carrot Cake, or add to eggs, spaghetti sauce, soup, or rice.
How: Anytime you need part of an onion for a recipe, chop the whole thing and throw what you don’t need into a bag in the freezer (that you keep in a readily accessible place – doesn’t do any good if it gets lost in your freezer!). Add to it whenever you have extra onion. When you’re in a hurry and you don’t want to dirty a cutting board and a knife just for onion, pull some out of the bag instead!
Use: Wherever you would use chopped cooked onion, such as Salmon Patties, Clam and Oyster Chowder, or Saucy White Beans with Zucchini.
How: I know strawberry season is long gone for most of us, but hold onto this one for next spring. If you’ll be using the berries for smoothies, you can gently wash them and freeze them whole, with tops intact! Again, lay bags flat to freeze.
Use in: Smoothies, with a high-powered blender (my KitchenAid blender does okay but I’m sure a Vitamix would be even better)!
How: You’re going to love this! Place whole tomatoes in gallon sized freezer bags. Lay bag flat and freeze. When you want to use them, allow to thaw at room temperature, then slip the skins off.
Use in: Tomato Sauce, Tomato Soup, Ketchup
7. Winter Squash
This one takes a little more work than the others, but is much easier than normal squash preparations.
How: Cook whole squash in your crock pot until tender. Allow to cool. Cut open, remove seeds, scoop out flesh with a spoon. Puree with an immersion blender. Freeze in 1 cup portions in bags or jars.
Use in: Sprouted Pumpkin Bread, Pumpkin Cake Bars, Pumpkin Pancakes, Pumpkin Pie Smoothie, World’s Best Pumpkin Soup, Pesto Squash and Chicken over Rice, Coconut Curry Rice with Butternut Squash
(See also: Cook squash the safe and brainless way)!
How: Grate it in the food processor and portion into bags or jars. Make sure you freeze it in convenient quantities for the recipes you’ll be using.
Use in: zucchini cakes, zucchini mini muffins, chocolate zucchini cake, chocolate chunk zucchini muffins
You may never do things the hard way again. Now go take a shower.