Lately, in this In Season series, we're taking a look at what I take home from Crooked Sky Farms each week and see what I've done with my CSA share, or part share. This week I'm doing a home IQF project using green bell peppers and okra.
IQF stands for individually quick frozen, an industry term for frozen foods that aren't all clumped together. Each piece has been frozen separately so that you can portion out however much you need and it also defrosts quite a bit faster than a giant frozen mass.
Find out how Jen froze her veggies after the jump.
I knew I wasn't going to get to the green peppers and okra I had in the fridge. So I decided to add to my freezer "pantry" that already includes frozen cooked beans, frozen cooked brown rice and the like. It's the convenience food you pay way too much for at the supermarket. You can do it yourself at home and save yourself time and money in the future -- and it doesn't take too much time to do. High fives all around.
Equipment I used:
Container for foods once frozen, I used some nifty deli-style containers (you could use freezer baggies)
Permanent marker or grease pen
Food you want to freeze, like extra peppers and okra
Clean and chop the vegetables into the size you'll probably need them in when you want to cook them later.
I anticipate using the green peppers in a chili, so I chopped them into about ¾" pieces. The okra will probably become cornmeal fried okra or it's possible that they will go into a gumbo. Either way, okra gets chopped crosswise into ¾" pieces, too.
Make sure that the pan you're using can fit into your freezer easily. I have a chest freezer so my big ol' cookie sheet gives me maximum surface area for spreading out the veg into their own spot on the sheet pan. I used two sheets of waxed paper to make it easy to pour into my designated containers and to separate the two vegetables while freezing.
Start to finish, this took me about 15 minutes to chop, spread, freeze (the inactive time is about 2 hours or overnight), pour, store time. Not too bad.
When you are are ready to use the vegetables, you may want to defrost them by putting the container in the fridge, running cool water over them in a colander or just adding them to the dish frozen if you know it won't cause too much of a misstep in the recipe - like in a stew.
Do you do this at home with your extra foodstuffs?