So you lucked out at the grocery store or farmer’s market and got a great deal on some fresh produce — congrats! You may soon realize, however, that you can’t possibly consume it all before it goes bad. Not to worry! You can freeze your finds so they’ll stay fresh and you can consume them later. Some foods retain their taste and texture better than others, though, so follow these tips to get the best results when freezing foods.
Vegetables that hold up well to cooking, such as corn, peas, and green beans, generally freeze well. For best results, blanch vegetables by boiling them for one minute in salted water, then submerge in ice water to stop the cooking process. Dry thoroughly before transferring to the freezer. You’ll want to keep the amount of air surrounding your food to a minimum to reduce freezer burn, so fill containers to the top, or use freezer bags with the air squeezed out.
You can freeze fresh herbs like cilantro, parsley, and basil. Remove the leaves from the stems and put them in an ice cube tray, fill with water (or olive oil) and pop in the freezer. When they’re fully frozen, transfer the herb cubes to a freezer bag. When you need to add herbs to a recipe, just thaw a cube and add them to your mix. These herbs will be limp, so they won’t work as garnish but are just fine for cooking.
When frozen, the water in fruit expands, so you may find that frozen fruit loses its texture and gets mushy when thawed. Colder temperatures allow the food to freeze more quickly and reduce these effects, so make sure your freezer is on the coldest setting when you put the fruit in. You can also consider eating your frozen fruit before it’s completely thawed. Frozen berries and grapes are refreshing treats, or you can add them to a smoothie.
Whole or sliced avocados don’t freeze well because they lose their texture when thawed. Instead, keep it fresh by squeezing some lemon or lime over any exposed flesh, cover with plastic wrap, and keep in the refrigerator for up to five days. You can, however, freeze mashed avocado mixed with lime juice, or guacamole that does not contain other vegetables (diced tomato and onion will make the guacamole watery after thawing). For best results, store in a plastic freezer bag with the air bubbles squeezed out. Transfer your frozen guac to the refrigerator the day before you plan to consume it.
Dairy products often don’t freeze well. If freezing all or part of a recipe that includes milk products, it’s preferable to freeze the rest of the ingredients cooked together and add the dairy after thawing. In many dishes, the dairy is added toward the end, so it’s easy to add after you take it out of the freezer.