I cleaned out our freezers last night—the one on our refrigerator and the small freezer chest we bought a few years ago so we could freeze the in-season local produce we cannot can. Like most people who have a freezer, I did find a handful of bags that I had to throw out. Browning cabbage labeled 2008 isn’t appetizing to even think about in 2011.
As soon as everything looked organized and ready to accept more food, I began filling the space. I had prepared yellow squash and greens to freeze. Today the task is to take the cucumbers that have been sitting in a water-vinegar-sugar solution since last night and bag them up. My preservation book says they make for a good winter salad so I followed the instructions and we’ll try it out when the leaves are dropping from the trees.
Although freezing produces different results than canning, it’s less time-consuming and an especially smart move for items you plan to later throw into a soup or stew. You’ll be softening and flavoring then anyway so if the vegetables have lost their crispness when they come out of the freezer, it won’t be a problem. So get the freezer bags ready and after you harvest your garden or bring home a load from the farmer’s market, decide within the first day what to eat and what to preserve. The sooner you preserve it, the more of its nutrients you’ll also save.