Every summer when I was growing up, my grandmother and mother would get a couple hundred ears of sweet corn and spend hours shucking them and cutting the corn off the ears to freeze. We’d have that good summer corn with Sunday dinners all winter long.

Freezing slows the growth of bacteria that cause food spoilage. Nearly any fruit or vegetable can be frozen, as long as you pick good quality produce to begin with. Choose young, tender vegetables or well-ripened fruits for freezing. Tomatoes can be cooked, pureed, or juiced before freezing.  Wash, peel, and trim away bruised areas. You may also cut them into serving-sized pieces before freezing.

As soon as fresh fruits and vegetables are picked, they start to undergo chemical changes. They continue to ripen somewhat, but they also start to deteriorate. You’ll want to freeze them as soon as possible after picking, especially if you’re freezing corn. When corn is picked, the sugar in the kernels starts converting to starch, and you lose flavor.

Fresh produce contains enzymes that cause the loss of color and nutrients, flavor changes, and color changes when you freeze the produce.

One way to de-activate these enzymes in vegetables is by blanching them. Blanching is done by exposing the vegetables to boiling water or steam for a brief period of time. The vegetable must then be rapidly cooled in ice water to prevent it from cooking. Blanching also helps to destroy  any microorganisms on the surface of the vegetable and to make some vegetables, such as broccoli and spinach, more compact.

With fruit, the enzymes are responsible for that lovely shade of brown you sometimes see, along with loss of vitamin C.  Since fruits are usually served raw, they aren’t blanched like vegetables. Instead, enzymes in frozen fruit are controlled by using chemical compounds, which prevent the yucky brown color from happening. The most commonly used chemical is ascorbic acid (vitamin C).

Some directions for freezing fruits also include soaking the fruit in diluted vinegar solutions or coating the fruit with sugar and lemon juice.  These also help prevent browning, but go ahead and add the vitamin C – it won’t hurt a thing and it will assure that your fruits will be the color you want them to be.

Use sturdy containers of appropriate size and shape that can be sealed tight and that will not leak. The more nearly moisture-proof and vapor-proof a container is, the better the frozen product will be.

Pack the food in the appropriate freezer container. Allow 1/2 inch head space for dry food and 1 – 2 inches for food covered with liquid.

After packing, wipe the top of each package clean. Seal airtight.

If you’re using freezer bags, force the air out before sealing the bag.

Label the container with the date and the name of the product, and

place in the freezer and store at 0 degrees or below. To thaw frozen foods, let them come up to temperature slowly in the refrigerator or in a cold-water bath.

These tips will help you enjoy the fresh taste of summer all year long. Happy freezing!

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