The other day, I made a trip to my local farmer’s market to pick up some fresh produce. With prices so low, I decided to stock up on my favorites, such as strawberries, pineapple, zucchini and potatoes. With my boyfriend and I the only two people in the house eating, we obviously can’t eat all of these fruits and vegetables before they turn rotten, so I decided to do a little research on how to properly freeze these foods.
I wanted to make sure that my fresh produce stays in good shape while in my freezer. I didn’t want to risk freezer burn, nor spend a lot of money on an expensive vacuum seal system, so I bought the Ziploc Vacuum starter kit at my local grocery store for a mere $4.29. The kit comes with a vacuum pump and 3 quart sized vacuum freezer bags, especially made for use with the pump. I also purchased a box of 8 gallon sized vacuum freezer bags.
First, I decided to freeze my strawberries. I washed and cut the tops off of each berry, then placed them on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper, and placed the cookie sheet in the freezer. After about 4-6 hours, the strawberries were frozen and ready to be stored in bags.
Before storing the strawberries, I labeled the bags with the contents and date. It’s important not to skip this step, or else it would be difficult to keep track of how long a certain food was sitting in the freezer. I divided the strawberries in half, placing one half into one quart sized vacuum freezer bag, and the other half into the other bag. After I zipped both bags, I used the Ziploc pump to “suck” the air out of each bag. It was so simple to do. All I needed to do was place the pump over the white square on the bags, and pump, just as I would any other pumping device, until all of the air is out of the bag. Now, my food was protected against freezer burn and ready to be stored.
Not only is this method great for preventing freezer burn, but using a vacuum, such as the Ziploc vacuum, for freezing foods also makes bags of food smaller, therefore, using less space in the freezer.
Next, I wanted to prepare homemade French fries with the russet potatoes I purchased at the farmer’s market. Again, my boyfriend and I would not be able to consume a 10 lb bag of potatoes before they started to sprout, so I decided to use half the potatoes for freezing. I washed, peeled and cut up the potatoes into French fries, then put them in a pot of salted water to simmer for about 5 minutes. Then, I drained them and put them into an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Once they were drained and cooled off, I placed them into one gallon sized vacuum freezer bag. I placed them in one layer, instead of all bunched up at the bottom. Then, I proceeded to use the pump and remove the air from the bag. The bag was flat, so it was easy to store in my freezer. So, instead of paying $3 to $4 a bag for name brand French fries at the grocery store, I now have healthy, homemade and dirt cheap fries ready whenever I need them.
Overall, I plan to use the Ziploc Vacuum pump for freezing more foods in the future, and would recommend it to others. The possibilities are endless for freezing foods. I’ve found that this method is super easy and inexpensive, and quite helpful for stocking up on fresh produce for use in the months to come.
For more information on freezing foods, and the guidelines to follow, visit the US Department of Agriculture’s Freezing and Food safety website at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/factsheets/focus_on_freezing/index.asp or the National Center for Home Food Preservation at http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/freeze.html