Preserve the taste of summer

PCC Taste | August 2013

So much goodness, so little time to enjoy it. If you're wondering what to do with the rest of your peaches, plums, berries and other summer produce, look to your freezer. It's the simplest way to store some sweetness for later, at least through Thanksgiving.

herbs

Culinary herbs

Choose firm, fresh herbs such as rosemary, sage, thyme and oregano. Chop fine or leave in larger sprigs. Pack ice cube trays about 2/3 full of herbs, then cover in olive oil or melted, unsalted butter. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and freeze overnight. Remove cubes and store in containers or small bags. Heat a cube in your pan to start your next recipe.

Blueberries, raspberries and blackberries

raspberries

Select ripe berries and remove stems. Freeze on a tray or cookie sheet and then pack into bags or containers as soon as they are frozen to prevent freezer burn. Wash before using (washing before freezing toughens skins).

Pie filling

Prep your fruit as usual for peach, blackberry, cherry or other summertime pies, mix with other filling ingredients, then store in a gallon-size zip-top bag in the freezer until ready to bake (leave 1/2 inch headspace to allow for expansion). Tips: Freeze first in a pie pan for a perfect fit. For cobblers, bake filling until hot, then add the biscuit topper and finish baking.

Smoothie blend

Cut favorite fruit such as melon, pineapple and peaches into similarly sized pieces, measure into the right amount for your smoothies, then freeze in a container or zip-top bag, leaving 1/2 inch headspace to allow for expansion.

corn

Fresh corn

Husk, then blanch on the cob for about 5 minutes. When cool enough to handle, cut kernels from the cob and freeze in an airtight bag or container with 1/2 inch of headspace to allow for expansion.

10 foods to freeze in ice cube trays

Once frozen, pop cubes into labeled bags or containers and start your next freezer project.

freezer
  1. Basil: Tear or chop and freeze with a bit of water. Pop into stir-fries, pasta sauce and soups.
  2. Sauces: Save that last bit of coconut milk, salsa or tomato sauce for quick and easy seasoning.
  3. Pureed fresh berries: Pop them into smoothies, top oatmeal or fill crepes.
  4. Coffee or iced tea: Chill drinks on hot days or blend into frappes.
  5. Citrus juice: Include the zest. Add a cube to vegetables or pasta for a bright kick.
  6. Leftover yogurt: Add the cubes to your next smoothie.
  7. Leftover wine: Use in your next sauté or to flavor stew.
  8. Sliced strawberries and basil, or lavender and mint: Add these combos to your ice water for a flavor infusion.
  9. Pesto: Check pccnaturalmarkets.com/recipes for fun variations.
  10. Pureed watermelon: Add to lemonade or cocktails.

More about: cooking tips, produce, summer

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