Archive: Aug 2016

How to Freeze Summer Vegetables

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veggies

At this point in the season the farmers market tables are a riot of color, piled precariously with mountains of perfect produce – succulent heirloom tomatoes in their misfit beauty, corn fit to burst at the touch, luminous summer squash lined up in flirty nonchalance. But you know what will happen. The abundance will slowly dwindle as the apples start taking over, and all of a sudden, it’s roots and kale until spring.

With the canning revival in full swing, sterilized jars and water baths are covering the counters of many a kitchen. But if you shy away from canning or have ample freezer space to supplement the pantry, freezing produce is an excellent way to preserve the local harvest for the bleaker months. Although frozen vegetables have taken a bad rap in the past, I’d take frozen produce in a heartbeat over old produce, commercially canned products, or produce imported from afar. Nutrients aren’t lost, and if frozen properly, neither is texture nor flavor.

The Basics

Blanching

Although freezing slows enzyme action, it doesn’t completely stop it – therefore, most produce requires some method of heat treatment, generally blanching, to inactivate the ripening enzymes and to preserve color, texture, and flavor. To blanch vegetables, place the washed, prepared vegetables in a pot of boiling water. Roughly use a gallon of water per pound of prepped vegetables. Boil water, and time the blanching as soon as the water returns to a boil after submerging the produce. After the recommended time has elapsed, remove the vegetables and plunge them into very cold (you can add ice) water for the same amount of time that you blanched them for.

Most frozen produce should be good stored for nine to 12 months. These are the basic methods for summer’s most popular produce.

Beans

beans

Wash and trim ends, cut if desired. For whole beans, blanch for three minutes, for cut beans, blanch for two minutes. Dry, pack, seal and label.

Corn

corn

For kernels: Remove husks and silks and trim ends. Blanch medium-sized ears, 3-4 ears at a time for five minutes. After blanching, remove kernels from cob, pack, seal, and label. For corn on the cob: Remove husks and silks and trim ends. Blanch medium-sized ears for eight minutes. Wrap each individually, and store in bags. Seal and label.

Eggplant

eggplant

Cut into slices, sprinkle with salt and allow to drain for 30 minutes. Pat dry and sauté gently in olive oil until just tender. Cool, pack, seal, and label.

Herbs

herbs

For basil only, water or steam blanch 1 minute. For other herbs, blanching is not necessary. Freeze in a single layer on cookie sheet. Freezing pesto in ice cube trays and then popping the pesto cubes into a bag for easy dispersion is a handy and popular trick, but Jacques Pepin has a different take on this. He prefers not to freeze finished pesto and opts instead for freezing a basil puree that he then transforms into pesto after defrosting.

Peas

peas

Shell garden peas, there’s no need to shell snow or sugar peas. Blanch for one and a half minutes, dry, pack, seal and label.

Peppers

peppers

Peppers, from bell peppers to all types of chili peppers, are one of the vegetables that don’t require heat treatment. Freeze them whole or sliced.

Tomatoes

tomatoes

Method 1: Wash, cut into halves, quarters or leave whole. Pat dry and pack into freezer bags. Remove air, label and seal.
Method 2: Dip into boiling water 1 minute. Remove and peel. Place on a tray and freeze for 30 minutes. Place in plastic bags, remove air, seal and label.
Method 3: Simmer chopped tomatoes in a pan for 5 minutes or until soft. Push through a sieve or food mill to remove skins and seeds. Cool and pack in plastic containers, leaving headspace.

Zucchini and summer squash

zucchini

Wash, trim ends, cut into slices or strips and water blanch for three minutes. Pat dry, pack, seal, and label.

Summer Punch Recipes

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With Summer here, comes gatherings and parties. Here are some good punch recipes to keep you cooled and refreshed.

Pretty Pink Punch

Pretty Pink Punch Recipe

TOTAL TIME: Prep/Total Time: 15 min.

MAKES: 50 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 cups cold water
  • 2 bottles (64 ounces each) cranberry-raspberry juice, chilled
  • 1 can (46 ounces) DOLE® Canned 100% Pineapple Juice, chilled
  • 1 can (12 ounces) frozen pink lemonade concentrate, thawed
  • 1 liter ginger ale, chilled
  • Decorative ice mold & lemon slices, optional

Nutritional Facts

1/2 cup: 76 calories, trace fat (trace saturated fat), 0mg cholesterol, 5mg sodium, 19g carbohydrate (18g sugars, trace fiber), trace protein

Directions

  1. In a punch bowl, dissolve sugar in water. Add juices and lemonade; mix well. Stir in ginger ale. If desired, top with a decorative ice mold and lemon slices. Serve immediately. Yield: 50 servings (7-1/2 quarts).

Lemon Ice Tea Mix

Lemon Ice Tea Mix Recipe

TOTAL TIME: Prep/Total Time: 5 min.

MAKES: 80 servings

Ingredients

  • 7-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups unsweetened instant tea
  • 5 envelopes (.23 ounce each) unsweetened lemonade soft drink mix
  • ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 cup warm water
  • Cold water

Nutritional Facts

1 cup: 75 calories, trace fat (0g saturated fat), 0mg cholesterol, 2mg sodium, 19g carbohydrate (18g sugars, trace fiber), trace protein

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, tea and drink mix. Divide into five equal batches; store in airtight containers in a cool dry place for up to 6 months. Yield: 5 batches (8-1/2 cups total).
  2. To prepare tea: Dissolve about 1-2/3 cups tea mix in 1 cup warm water. Place in a gallon container. Add cold water to measure 1 gallon. Cover and refrigerate. Yield: about 16 (1-cup) servings per batch.

Banana Brunch Punch

Banana Brunch Punch Recipe

TOTAL TIME: Prep: 10 min. + freezing

MAKES: 60-70 servings

Ingredients

  • 6 medium ripe bananas
  • 1 can (12 ounces) frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 3/4 cup thawed lemonade concentrate
  • 3 cups warm water, divided
  • 2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 can (46 ounces) DOLE® Canned 100% Pineapple Juice, chilled
  • 3 bottles (2 liters each) lemon-lime soda, chilled
  • Orange slices, optional

Nutritional Facts

3/4 cup: 68 calories, trace fat (trace saturated fat), 0mg cholesterol, 4mg sodium, 17g carbohydrate (16g sugars, trace fiber), trace protein

Directions

  1. In a blender, cover and process the bananas, orange juice and lemonade until smooth. Remove half of the mixture and set aside. Add 1-1/2 cups warm water and 1 cup sugar to blender; blend until smooth.
  2. Place in a large freezer container. Repeat with remaining banana mixture, water and sugar; add to container. Cover and freeze until solid.
  3. One hour before serving, remove punch base from freezer. Just before serving, place in a large punch bowl. Add pineapple juice and soda; stir until well blended. Garnish with orange slices if desired. Yield: 60-70 servings (10 quarts).

Orange Lemonade Recipe

Orange Lemonade Recipe

TOTAL TIME: Prep: 20 min. + cooling

MAKES: 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 1-3/4 cups sugar
  • 2-1/2 cups water
  • 1-1/2 cups lemon juice (about 8 lemons)
  • 1-1/2 cups orange juice (about 5 oranges)
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon peel
  • 2 tablespoons grated orange peel
  • Water

Nutritional Facts

1 cup: 136 calories, trace fat (trace saturated fat), 0mg cholesterol, 1mg sodium, 35g carbohydrate (32g sugars, trace fiber), trace protein

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, combine sugar and water. Cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally. Cool.
  2. Add juices and peels to cooled sugar syrup. Cover and let stand at room temperature 1 hour. Strain syrup; cover and refrigerate.
  3. To serve, fill glasses or pitcher with equal amounts of fruit syrup and water. Add ice and serve. Yield: 12 servings.