Sunday, August 12, 2012

The freezer is my friend...

Frozen Fruit Smoothie

6 oz vanilla greek yogurt
1 heaping cup frozen fruit (bananas, berries, peaches, pineapple...)
1/2 cup juice or milk (I like orange or apple juice)

Puree all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Serve in a chilled glass.

 I hate wasting food. My least favorite chore is cleaning out the refrigerator because it's inevitable that I find some spoiled food item that was purchased or prepared with the best intentions, and promptly forgotten about.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are the worst. I painstakingly troll the grocery store or farmer's market, picking out the freshest, most beautiful, usually organic produce. I come home with my gastronomic booty and put it in the crisper--the drawer where vegetables go to die.
Best case scenario I use anything perishable within a couple of days, but with my new unpredictable Preggo appetites, there's no telling when I might feel like kale again.

Enter the freezer.

My generation seems to have eschewed the stand-alone and chest freezers of our elders for the notion that the only good produce is fresh produce. (There is a growing resurgence in the canning and pickling department, but that's irrelevant here, as there's no way I'm going to spend all day canning tomatoes--maybe when I get that second trimester burst of energy I keep hearing about.) However beneficial fresh produce is, it's worthless when it's wilted, rotten, or moldy. With the proper preparation, frozen fruits and vegetables can retain much of their nutritional value, while drastically increasing their shelf-life.

In On Food and Cooking, Harold McGee recommends blanching vegetables before freezing to limit "the enzymatic breakdown of vitamins and pigments (p 278.)" This is a quick process of immersing the vegetables in boiling water for one or two minutes, draining, and placing in an ice water bath to stop any further cooking. I've personally used this method to freeze green beans, kale, corn (I cut the kernels from the cob after blanching,) broccoli, cauliflower and peas.

There is no need to blanch fruit before freezing. For delicate fruits prone to browning like peaches and plums, you might think about covering them with sugar syrup or making freezer jam--which is generally fruit cooked with sugar syrup, then frozen.
When I have berries that have seen better days (not moldy--just starting to get slightly battered looking) I wash and trim them, cutting any large berries into smaller pieces. Then I dry them briefly with paper towels and drop them in a freezer bag to be frozen. Overripe bananas I simply peel and freeze--blend frozen bananas up with some milk for a creamy confection to rival a milkshake!

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