Monday, November 24, 2014

Freezing Produce #3: Zucchini & Stewed Tomatoes

While I am doing childcare and on the USDA food program (monthly 'reimbursement' check for feeding balanced meals by their guidelines & turning in completed paperwork) I have to freeze to preserve anything I plan to feed the children later.  No Home Canned items --boo! as I have more cupboard space than freezer space but I do what I can. 

This year, I have frozen produce such as; pumpkin, green beans, zucchini, stewed tomatoes, bananas, pear butter, & applesauce.

Stewed Tomatoes: I have seriously simplified my tomato processing steps. I used to blanch, peel, de-seed, simmer, make sauce, then can.  Now, I simply chop & simmer, pour into jars & chill overnight then freeze for childcare.  I chop into small enough pieces that when the skins come off either in the simmering, freezing or thawing process, they aren't big enough to be choking hazards & after all the processing, the seeds are barely recognizable for those who don't like them.  Often I will put a frozen jar out to thaw overnight in the fridge then put it on to simmer mid morning & add italian seasoning to it & maybe some garlic & finely diced onion if I am feeling generous (really, the kids don't care either way) if I want to serve something w/a sauce-usually a baked pasta dish to use up some leftover ground meat & pasta.The tomatoes & seasonings will simmer for a while, maybe an hour or more depending on how watery it came out after thawing, then pour over the rest & pop it in the oven. Yummmmy. 

Zucchini: We are not fans of baked or fried zucchini, so I don't cook any of it fresh, I only get it to freeze for muffins & bread later in the winter. Of course, I don't peel my zucchini, so I wash them off before cutting the ends off, then I cut into big spears.  Then I cut off the pointy side with the seeds on it & run the rest through an electric shredder.  I loved my salad shooter I had for years, man, I used that thing for shredding every.thing. from zucchini, carrots, cheese, radishes, & I am sure I am forgetting some things. Then when my second one broke, I used a hand me down food processor that had a shredding blade, it never worked as efficiently as the shooter, but it was faster & easier than shredding by hand so I would fight with it to get it all done.  Once the Zucchini is shredded, I put it into containers by 2 cup measurements (again, that's what my recipe calls for) to put in the fridge overnight then freezer the next morning. I have heard of people using baggies & freezing it flat then standing them upright for more efficient storage & that's a great idea, if you like to use baggies.  A couple of times this year, I would shred up to 11 cups of zucchini for the freezer from those donated by childcare families.  It was a great year for zucchini around these parts.  

2 more items for your freezer, only 2 left to talk about unless you want me to talk about other things I prep for the freezer.  I have done beef stock but can talk about chicken & homemade refried beans (I don't think I have done that one yet).  :) 


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