Freeze Your Foods for Fall

Preserve harvest-ripe flavor and nutrition by turning fall fruits and vegetables into simple, freezer-ready recipes.

| September/October 2017

  • Tasty veggie burgers make an easy weeknight meal on a bun or atop a salad.
    Photo by iStock/nata_vkusidey
  • Make-ahead veggie wraps are a simple and satisfying meal.
    Photo by iStock/LauriPatterson
  • Savor every last morsel of summer fruit by making a batch of freezer jam.
    Photo by iStock/RonBailey
  • Fruit compote is a quick treat to whip up on a winter morning.
    Photo by iStock/PamelaJoeMcFarlane

The end of summer often comes with a wave of seasonal sentimentality: One last garden party. One last weekend by the water. But although new summer adventures may have to wait until next year, food is a different story. Just as generations have done before us, proactively preserving summer’s bounty is an excellent way to not only avoid food waste, but to savor the superior flavor and nutrition of homegrown produce well beyond the last warm days of fall.

When we hear food preservation, we may first think of canning and dehydrating. But freezing is an ideal tool for storing produce at its peak, along with keeping quick, nutritious, ready-made meals on hand.

The key to successful freezer storage is all in the containment. Prepared recipes are best kept in separate, single-meal portions so they defrost more quickly. Sealable plastic bags can work for short-term storage of a few weeks, but reusable glass containers offer better long-term storage, can be stacked to take up less valuable freezer real estate, and are much better for the environment. Most importantly, frozen foods should always be stored in a container with a tight seal to prevent freezer burn and flavor loss.

There is no mandate of what you can and cannot freeze, and you may be surprised at just how much food you can preserve through the simple freezer method. Overgenerous raspberry bush? Freeze the berries for smoothies. Last eggplants of the season? Make a casserole for a future busy night. Purchase too many farmers market tomatoes? Make a double batch of marinara, and freeze half for a fall or winter pasta dish that will sing with flavor. Fill your freezer full of edible treasures now, and reap the rewards for months to come.

Extra Veggies & Herbs

When the vegetable garden, CSA box and farmers market are bursting with the flavors of fresh vegetables, consider preserving some of those fresh-picked nutrients with these dishes perfectly suited to freezer storage.

Veggie Burgers: Don’t let the end of grilling season deter you from enjoying a great burger. Try whipping up a variety of veggie patties combining legumes such as lentils, grains such as rolled oats, and grated vegetables of all varieties (try beets and zucchini), plus a little bit of flax or chia seed powder as a binder. These can be stored uncooked in the freezer for several months, then thawed and pan-seared when ready to enjoy. Be sure to wrap patties individually to keep them from freezing to one another. Or freeze in a single layer on a pan, and then move them into a container together.

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