Freshly Frozen: Eating Well on a Student Budget

Friday, September 30, 2011

Photo credit: I don't know... probably LOL cats... cause the only thing the world really needs are more cats on the internet

It could just be me but there is something about September that just completely drains my energy; blame it on school starting up again or the lack of routine that comes from not working full-time but I just want to sleep and sleep and Zzzz. Maybe it is that I am not eating as much vegetables and fruits because my garden is coming to a close which makes me horrified at what may happen to my energy levels as winter comes.

Fear not fellow students, I have discovered (okay, rediscovered) a magical method for getting our summer fruits and veggies in the cold winter months. Even better, these fruits and veggies could be local! I sense your doubt through the computer screen but bear with me.

Pretend it is winter, you go to the grocery store and pay ridiculous amounts for fresh produce and cringe as it rings through the cash and squirm silently as you wait for “APPROVED” to show up on the debit machine. Terrifying, yes? We have all been there but why not reduce our stress levels and environmental footprint a tad this school year and freeze some local veggies before the frost hits.

Journey to your local farmers market and pick up some of your favourite fruits and vegetables- make sure to pick some that have just ripened or are almost ripe because these freeze best. Find yourself a LARGE, I’m talking MASSIVE, pot to boil the suckers in and another LARGE bowl to chill them in. Gather up some plastic containers to store your produce in, big Ziploc plastic bags will work as well. Now, you’re ready for blanching.

What is blanching? No, not colouring your produce white so put those crayons away. It is ultimately the halting of enzyme activity which allows the produce to stay “fresh” while being frozen.

Prepare your produce as required- this may be include peeling, shelling or cutting and boil 4L of water for every 4 cups of produce (I said “MASSIVE pot” for a reason). Get your large bowl ready with some ice cold water as well. Once the MASSIVE pot of water has been boiled, dump in your veggies/fruits and boil for the allotted amount of time and then immediately cool them in the bowl of ice water for the same amount of time that they were boiled for. After they are chilled, pack them into your containers/bags and freeze. You may want to label the day they were packaged on in permanent marker and with your name if you live with roommates prone to stealing your food!

Voila! “Fresh” and affordable produce all winter long, take that grocery store- trying to sell me tomatoes shipped halfway across the world at ridiculous prices!


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