We are on the cusp of crossing over into summer, which means official fruit and veggie explosion at the Farmer’s Markets and grocery stores. I am a big believer in knowing who grows your food, knowing where it comes from, and cooking with fresh, seasonal ingredients. Because a cucumber just tastes better when its grown by a nice guy, right? But seriously, farmers put a lot of love, time, and energy into growing your food and watching you purchase it with a smile. Farmers are not exactly raking in the dough, in fact the number of local farmers is shrinking by the day, but I believe we all play a little part in keeping their business alive and thriving. I am a very loyal customer and will search for my favorite vendors; a couple that grows potatoes and has the BEST honey you will ever taste, a greens guy (whose wife is getting ready to have a baby), and a favorite vendor for fresh fruit. Week after week you start a conversation, ask about the produce, and begin producing a symbiotic relationship with your food. It is truly magical, and I feel blessed to have such a wide array of local markets and produce vendors at my fingertips. Saturday mornings would not be the same without heading down to the Market.
After some thought and consideration I see a chest freezer in my future. I am looking for something that is a good size but not HUGE, after all there are only two people living in the house right now! Taking recommendations and suggestions if you are familiar with chest freezers! My goal is to truly take advantage of all the great produce available during the summer and store it for the winter. I will become a local food squirrel, so to speak. Because, let’s be honest, fruits and vegetables that have flown 2,000 miles to the grocery store in the winter do NOT taste as good as their summer counterparts. No matter how much you try to convince yourself otherwise.
I am beginning this journey with the first crop of summer strawberries. Throughout this process I am hoping to bring a series of “how-to” instructions to help you take advantage of the great produce too!
What you will need:
- 1 quart strawberries
- Cutting Board
- Casserole dish or baking sheet
- Quart size freezer bags
Place strawberries in a colander and rinse with cool water to remove any dirt or debris. Drain strawberries of any excess water. These strawberries are as sweet as candy and taste infinitely better than the strawberries I have been buying. Just look at the gorgeous color; how could you possibly resist?!
Slice the green tops off the strawberries and discard.
Arrange the strawberries on a baking sheet, cut side down, in one even layer. It is important to not overcrowd them because we want each individual strawberry to completely freeze through and not stick to the others. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for 3-4 hours, or until the strawberries are completely frozen.
Remove the berries from the freezer and transfer to freezer storage bags. If the strawberries are difficult to remove from the baking sheet apply pressure on them until they pop off; a little muscle may be needed for this step. By freezing the strawberries individually you avoid one big mass of berries and the gooey juice at the bottom of the bag because the fruit does not smash into one another and crush the smaller ones. The result with this method is perfectly frozen individual berries that do not stick together. Perfect for fruit crisp, smoothies, oatmeal, or muffins. Happy freezing!