Recipe for August 15, 2009:

Freezing tips

Blanching: Many veggies requires a short heat treatment, called blanching, in boiling water, to destroy enzymes that, over time, break down nutrients and hurt the color, flavor, and texture of food during freezing.

Boil veggies just long enough to stop the action of the enzymes, then bag up and freeze for later.

Blanching times:
Green or wax beans: 3 minutes

Beets: cook to tender
Broccoli (1.5" pieces) 3 minutes
Cabbage (shredded): 1 1/2 minutes
Cauliflower: 3 minutes
Corn-on-the-cob, Large Ears: 10 minutes
Eggplant:     4 minutes
Greens: 2 minutes, 3 for collards
Mushrooms: (steam, don't boil)
  Whole (steamed) 5 minutes
  Buttons or Quarters (steamed) 3.5 minutes
  Slices steamed) 3 minutes
Onion, sliced into rings     10-15 seconds
Sweet Peppers
   Halves: 3 minutes
Strips or Rings: 2 minutes
Pumpkin: cook through, freeze cubed or mashed
Zucchini/Yellow Squash     3 minutes
Squash-Winter   cook through, freeze cubed or mashed
Sweet Potatoes   cook through, freeze cubed or mashed

Don't see what you want here? Google "blanching time (vegetable)."

Freezing Tomatoes: A friend came back from an Italian cooking school with this tip: Put tomatoes into a zip bag straight from the Market, and put them in the freezer. When you need them for cooking later, just pull them out and dunk them in boiling water for a minute. The skins will pop right off. They are ready for cooking.

A nice trick to "save for winter" is to always make twice as much of something you can freeze, and then pack half away into the freezer for another day. Below is a nice fresh chili that can be a  made, frozen, and reheated when you don't feel like doing a lot of dinner prep.

Freezes well.

1 tablespoon oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large root vegetable (potato, carrot, beet, parsnip), diced
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced. (add more for hotter chili)
2 small zucchini, diced
2 large tomatoes, chopped
2 cobs corn, kernels sliced off the cob
2 cups water or beer
1 can (6-ounce) tomato paste
4 tablespoons hot or mild chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon sugar

Heat the oil in a large chili pot over medium heat. Add the onion, root vegetable, bell pepper, celery, garlic, and jalapeño. Cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

Add the zucchini, tomatoes, corn, water, tomato paste, chili powder, salt, oregano, and sugar, and Stir well. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes, adding more water if necessary.

This can be eaten as is, stewlike, or used as a base for a meat chili. When it's time to eat, add to a pound of browned ground beef to this thawed mixture and simmer until ready.