Tag: vegetables

Vegetables

Can You Freeze Butternut Squash?

Can you freeze butternut squash? Fresh butternut squash is typically enjoyed throughout the fall months but you can have it available all year long by freezing it. Read on to learn more.

Fresh butternut squash is typically enjoyed most throughout the fall months since harvesting usually occurs in late summer early autumn.

However, you can enjoy this delicate fruit, or as some call a vegetable, any time of the year by simply freezing large harvest to enjoy later in the year when you feel like something sweet and savory to eat that provides comfort and nourishment to the body.

How to Freeze Butternut Squash?

Freezing butternut squash is simple. You can freeze the squash using a few different methods too. Below is a step by step guide on how can you freeze butternut squash:

Freezing Raw Butternut Squash

If you want to freeze freshly harvested butternut squash in its organic form, you do have to remove the stem, skin, and seeds from the inside of it first. Then, you can chunk up the squash flesh into bite-sized pieces.

After, lay the pieces out onto a wax paper lined cookie sheet and freeze them in the freezer for about an hour. Once the pieces are frozen, you can place them into sealable freezer bags or containers and store them in the freezer for up to a year.

When you are ready to cook some squash up, simply remove the container from the freezer and cook up the squash the way you desire to.

can you freeze butternut squash

Image used under Creative Commons from Forest and Kim Starr

Freezing Mashed Butternut Squash

One of the most favored ways of eating butternut squash is mashed with some butter and brown sugar blended into it. Some people even add in maple syrup and a pinch of a salt for a sweet and savory side dish.

You can create whatever flavor of mashed squash you desire. To make mashed butternut squash you simply remove the stems, peels, and seeds from some squashes. Chunk up the squash flesh into bite-sized pieces.

Place the pieces into a large steamer pan or shallow pot of water and cook them until fork tender. After, you strain any water from the butternut squash chunks and place the chunks into a large mixing bowl with your favorite seasoning ingredients.

Then, you beat the ingredients together until you receive a smooth and creamy deep mashed butternut squash dish that is full of outstanding flavor. Next, you scoop the mashed butternut squash into freezer containers, place the date onto the container and freeze the squash this way for up to a year or until you are ready to use it.

When you are ready to use up a mashed butternut squash side dish, remove a container from the freezer and dump the frozen squash dish into a small saucepan and heat on low heat until it becomes warm and creamy to eat. You can also warm this dish up in the microwave, but the flavor and texture might change a bit.

Freezing Halved Butternut Squash

If you want to freeze butternut squash in halves, all you have to do is cut a squash in half, scoop the seeds from it and place each half into a freezer bag.

Then, freeze the squash this way for up to 2-years or until you are ready to use it. The best way to cook up frozen halves of butternut squash is by roasting them in the oven at 400 degrees for about an hour or until tender.

You can add seasonings and butter to the halves in order to achieve a flavor you desire too. Some people even stuff the halves with wild rice, nuts, and dried fruits to make a delicious vegetarian dish. You do whatever you feel best for your frozen halves of butternut squash.

Halved butternut squash

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How to Defrost Frozen Butternut Squash?

It would not be best to take frozen butternut squash from the freezer and allow it to defrost in the refrigerator or countertop because it will cause discoloration and possibly even a slimy mushy texture.

It is always best to take frozen butternut squash from the freezer and cook it right away so it still has the same fresh flavor it did on the day you harvested it.

Keeping squash frozen for longer than 2-years can cause frost and may even change the flavor of it so it is always best to use any frozen squash up before the 2-year mark passes.

Summary

Freezing butternut squash is easy and convenient, especially when you’re whipping up quick meals. Now that you know how can you freeze butternut squash, there is no need to worry about wastage when storing this nutritious vegetable for later use. You can take advantage of sales because you can maximize the vegetables to their fullest!

Vegetables

Can You Freeze Spinach?

Spinach has a relatively short shelf life, so it can be challenging to keep it fresh and available. Freezing spinach will significantly extend its shelf life so that you can always keep it stocked in your kitchen. But can you freeze spinach?

Yes, you can freeze spinach. In fact, it actually freezes quite well. Frozen spinach can be easily incorporated into a wide variety of dishes to add lots of nutritional value and very few calories.

It does make sense to freeze spinach, as this will extend its shelf life from only a week to up to 14 months. Because you need to prepare spinach prior to freezing, this means you can work efficiently by preparing large batches at once. Once you portion the spinach into individual bags in the freezer, it will be ready to use immediately whenever you’re ready to cook.

Spinach leaves

Image used under Creative Commons from Rob Bertholf

It is important to note, however, that while fresh spinach is crispy (similar to lettuce), frozen spinach will have a soggy, limp texture after it is frozen. This texture change is how spinach responds to being cooked, so it will not make a difference when incorporating your frozen spinach into dips, soups, casseroles, and other cooked or baked dishes. It also should not matter if you like to eat plain cooked spinach as a side dish.

However, frozen spinach is not suited for being consumed raw. The limp texture of frozen spinach would be very noticeably different from the crisp, leafy texture you expect from raw spinach. So if you are planning on using your spinach to make a salad or as a burger topping, you should stick to purchasing fresh spinach. Below is a step by step guide on how can you freeze spinach:

How to Freeze Spinach?

Prepping the Spinach for Blanching

Because spinach grows directly on the ground, it can be quite dirty when you purchase it. Before freezing or consuming spinach, it is important to thoroughly wash it to remove any traces of dirt. Simply dunk the spinach into a bowl of water three times, changing the water between each time. Once the spinach is clean, you can remove the stems and loosely chop the spinach, if desired.

Blanching the Spinach for Freezing

Blanching spinach helps the leaves preserve their green color and nutrients during the freezing process. It will also soften the texture of the spinach in the final cooked dish. You will notice a significant loss in volume from blanching. Typically, 10 to 12 cups of spinach will result in 1 cup of blanched spinach.

To blanch the spinach, boil it in a pot of water on the stove for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove the spinach using a spider or strainer and immediately place it in a bowl of ice water to halt the cooking process. Leave it in the ice water for several minutes until it is completely cool.

Remove the spinach and squeeze out as much excess water as possible with your hand. Portion the spinach into the individual servings in an airtight container with a lid or plastic zip bags. Blanched spinach will last for 9 to 14 months when kept in the freezer.

If you will be using the spinach within 6 months, you can opt to skip the blanching process to save time. However, in addition to reducing the shelf life, forgoing blanching the spinach will also degrade the texture of the spinach more significantly.

Spinach

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How to Thaw Frozen Spinach?

Thawing spinach is simple. If you plan your meals ahead, you can place the frozen spinach directly in the fridge about a day or two before you need it. To shorten the thawing time, you can place the bag in a bowl of warm water in your sink. The spinach should be completely thawed in an hour or two.

Another technique for thawing spinach in a hurry is to empty spinach into a mesh strainer and rinse using warm water. Use your fingers to separate any clumps. This process is incredibly quick and takes only a few minutes. Once the spinach is thawed completely, press down on it in the strainer with your hand to remove any excess water.

Summary

It’s surprising how spinach keeps so well in the freezer. Now that you know how can you freeze spinach, go ahead and buy this vegetable in bulk! There is absolutely no need to worry about wasting spinach if you keep your supply in the freezer.

Vegetables

Can You Freeze Raw Potatoes?

If you have particularly large potato harvest or just bought more than you can use, you may wonder if can you freeze raw potatoes for future cooking.

Raw potatoes cannot successfully be frozen directly. As with most vegetables, potatoes should be blanched prior to being frozen, to preserve flavor, texture, and color.

This brief cooking process will stop enzyme action which can cause your potato turn black and mushy in the freezer. It will also help clean off any residual dirt on the surface. However, the potatoes will still need to be prepared and cooked after thawing.

Potatoes

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If properly stored, in a cool (40-50┬░ F) dark location, potatoes can last several months to a year. However, at room temperature, most potatoes are only good for 2-3 weeks. There can be a loss of quality when you freeze whole potatoes, as they may seem to disintegrate or become mushy upon thawing.

Blanching can help prevent this to some extent, but if the texture or your final dish requires a firmer potato, you may be better off using fresh rather than frozen potatoes. However, for many potato preparations (mashed, hash browns, and French fries, among others), using frozen potatoes is fine.

If you are unsure, try blanching and freezing just a few potatoes at first to make sure that you are happy with the results of your final dish before freezing the rest of your potato crop. Below is a step by step guide on how can you freeze raw potatoes:

How to Freeze Raw Potatoes?

Aged potatoes freeze more successfully than freshly harvested potatoes. Allow potatoes to mature for 2-4 weeks before attempting to freeze them.

Prepping and Blanching the Potatoes

Scrub your potatoes well, and peel them. Bring a large pot of water to boil. You will need approximately 1 gallon per pound of potatoes.

Put the clean potatoes in a blanching basket, and lower it into the boiling water. Blanch them for 3-5 minutes, remove, and place the potatoes in ice water to quickly stop the cooking process.

Packing the Potatoes for Freezing

Once cool the touch, you can dry and freeze the potatoes in an air-tight container. Potatoes frozen with moisture are more likely to become mushy upon thawing, so make sure to thoroughly dry the potatoes.

As with most foods, frozen potatoes should be stored in an air-tight container. Frozen potatoes will keep indefinitely, but for best taste and texture should be used within a year.

You can prepare and partially cook potatoes for a number of uses. Diced potatoes and pieces sliced for French fries should be boiled until just tender, and then spread in a single layer to freeze. Shredded potatoes for hash browns should also be partially cooked, before forming the shreds into mounds and frozen.

Fully cooked potatoes can also be frozen. Dishes like mashed potatoes and twice-baked potatoes can be prepared as normal and then frozen for later use. Potatoes frozen in soups and stews will likely become mushy when thawed.

Washed potatoes

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How to Defrost Frozen Potatoes?

Frozen potatoes are generally best used without thawing them first. Place frozen French fry pieces directly in the oven on a greased cookie sheet, and bake until hot and browned.

Diced potatoes can be reheated in a pot of simmering water or microwave, or added directly to a soup or stew. Frozen baked potatoes can also be placed directly in the oven for heating. Because you partially cooked the potatoes before freezing, take care to not overcook them.

If you need to prepare whole potatoes from frozen, you may need to thaw it prior to preparing it. You can do this by baking it in the oven for about 30 minutes, or by using your microwave’s defrost cycle. Once thawed, you should be able to prepare and cook your potato as normal.

Summary

As you can see, there are so many ways to freeze raw potatoes. You have different choices in terms of how to prepare the spuds for long-term storage. Now that you know how can you freeze raw potatoes, why not keep lots of spuds for future cooking?