Monday, August 13, 2012

Preserving: What I Choose To Freeze

Maybe it goes without saying, but I'm an incurable squirrel.  There is this insatiable instinct that kicks in from summer to fall where I have to put food up for the year, whether it's home-grown or not.  I find great satisfaction filling our pantry and freezer with nourishing, homemade staples.  Depending on what I can get my hands on or grow, every year looks a little different.  Since I don't have a pressure canner, I mostly stick to high-acid items to can, like jam, salsa, and tomato sauce.  But I'm not a strict canner, and with the purchase of our first beef cow last February, we put a chest freezer in the barn to expand our freezing capabilities.  Here's a breakdown of what fills our freezer and why:
  • Beans.  Because of BPA and lack of flavor, I stopped buying canned beans years ago.  It is extremely cheap to buy dry beans and they are easy to make.  About once a month, I make a new batch of refried beans to stick in the freezer and pull from.  I'll also soak and cook big batches of black, navy, and garbanzo beans to freeze in batches and pull out for soups, side dishes, and hummus.
  • Berries.  We pick most of the berries we eat ourselves.  We have plans to plant many blueberry bushes, raspberry canes, and a huge strawberry patch, but for now we frequent the no-spray strawberry stand down the road while they are in season.  Some are made into jam, some are eaten fresh, and some are frozen (here's how to freeze them).  There is a you-pick blueberry farm we can utilize for our blueberry stash.  I use some for fruit leathers and freeze the rest.  Wild blackberries grow everywhere up here so we usually choose an August morning to pick as many as we can.  Some are dehydrated and put in scones or snacks and the rest are frozen for smoothies or frozen treats.
  • Beef.  Twice a year we go in with three other families on a grass-fed cow.  This takes up the majority of our chest freezer.
  • Fruit slices.  We'll stock up on peaches, nectarines, and apricots.  After washing, pitting, and slicing them (you may also want to peel them), I lay them out on a cookie sheet, not touching, let them freeze, and put them in an air-tight container and back in the freezer.  They are used for smoothies and crisps.  My kids also like to eat the frozen slices by themselves.
  • Nuts.  We glean walnuts with a friend every October.  The kids and I shell them (they can't be stored in their shells), then I soak, dehydrate, and freeze them for use throughout the year.  We also buy bulk pecans and almonds and I soak, dehydrate, and freeze those too.  Freezing prevents their oils from becoming rancid.  They are used to eat by themselves, put into raw dishes, for pies, or nut butters.
  • Almond flour.  We buy it by the 25-pound box when it's on sale and I freeze it in 5-pound containers to make a plethora of grain free dishes like blueberry banana bars and apple cinnamon coffee cake.
  • Spelt Flour.  After milling spelt berries with my handy dandy WonderMill, I store it in the freezer to keep it fresh.  I use it to make sourdough flatbread and many other baked goods.
  • Seeds.  If you haven't noticed, bulk-buying is my jam, yo.  I soak and dehydrate seeds too, and pull them out when I need them.  I use: sunflower seeds for salads, butters, and raw dishes, sesame seeds for baba ghanoush or anything I feel like sprinkling them on, and chia seeds for smoothies and many other dishes.
  • Coconut flour.  I buy bulk coconut flour here (usually 2-4 bags at a time), pull out one bag at a time to store in the fridge and make things like zucchini chocolate chunk muffins, orange muffinsmaple pecan cupcakes, and pigs in a blanket with it.
  • Corn.  While corn is in season, I boil the cobs, cut off the corn, and freeze it to make things like creamed corn for the oncoming holidays.
  • Green beans.  This is another crop I'm freezing to make our favorite green bean casserole (now modified to be gluten-free) for Thanksgiving.
  • Pies.  Speaking of Thanksgiving, this year I tucked a couple grain-free apricot pies away in the freezer to lighten the load once holiday baking mania hits.
  • Cobblers.  I also made a couple cobblers using the same ingredients of the pie mentioned above sans the pie crust.  Those will be nice to pull out as a treat on a cold winter's night.
  • Cacao.  Another bulk item that resides in the freezer for raw hot chocolate, raw samoas, and other yummy treats. 
  • Leftovers.  They don't happen often these days with all these growing kids running around here, but when we end up with leftovers, I freeze them to pull out on a busy night.  This prevents the urge to fall prey to becoming dependent on drive-thrus or take-outs.
  • Tortillas.  Once I get my tortilla press, I'll start making them again.  For now, I buy them in bulk and freeze those guys, too.
  • Bone stock.  Chicken and beef stock take up a lot of space in the freezer.  We use it for nourishing potato cheddar soup, creamy tomato bisque, warming butternut squash soup, slow cooker beans and greens, slow cooker beef & root veggie stewenchilada sauce, and for cooking rice.
  • Enchilada sauce.  We usually go through one batch of this enchilada sauce a year, frozen in 1-pint mason jars.  Each pint is enough for one batch of these enchiladas.
There ya have it, folks.  These are the things that fill the Riddle freezer.  Please ignore the sounds of squirrel chirps.  Sometimes it escapes me without notice.  What do you like to freeze?


  1. I just had a conversation with my Pastor's wife the other day about freezing food. I would like to start freezing food but am unsure of what can be frozed and in what type of container. Thanks for posting this, it gives me some ideas :)

  2. Wow. I'm impressed! Once we move, we're planning on getting a small chest freezer, which will help me be able to freeze more things. Thanks for the inspiration, and way to go storing up so much food!

  3. Thanks for all your wonderful recipes especially the raw ones. Love your blog!
    When creaming corn I used this gadget (below) to take the kernels off the cob. It will make creamed corn and the whole kernel variety as well. The corn cobs do not have to be boiled first, and once the corn is creamed, it can be frozen raw. When you take out of the freezer, you can cook just a little bit and it tastes so fresh! Try it with butter and salt and pepper.

  4. i have been trying to put more stuff away this year (now that we have a chest freezer!). i am loving it. made my 1st jam too which was so rewarding. i have made both blackberry and strawberry. next year i want to make a bunch more, but i am happy with what i have done so far. i have got to say that i am really hoping bill gets a deer this year so we can fill the freezer with the meat!

    my recent post: did you look into their eyes today?

  5. I must share the squirrel gene. This time of year I can hardly keep myself from preserving everything in sight. It's almost like that uncontrollable nesting feeling you get right before you go into labor. While I was up to my elbows in peaches, I told my husband I wanted to get a bunch of tomatoes this week at the farmers' market to make enough salsa to last all winter, and I think he thought I'd gone crazy. :)

  6. This is such a helpful post. I absolutely love you blog. Thanks so much for sharing

  7. I just went through my freezer to figure out what I actually have in there. It's been great because I've used up lots of things that I'd forgotten about. How do you keep track of everything in your freezer? And how do you get it all to fit?

  8. There are print outs you can use to keep track of what's in your freezer like this one:

    We have a chest freezer as well as the one in the house, but it's still quite the jigsaw puzzle! :)

  9. I'm so glad. And than you so much. :)

  10. It is totally like prenatal nesting! I love it. Enjoy your salsa session. :)

  11. Thanks for the tip! I'll for sure look into that fun tool.

  12. what a fabulous post! :)

    i think you're totally right - preserving food is important, especially
    for little squirelers like us. haha. particularly with respect to
    berries. i think winter bought berries are such a tragedy and if we can
    save them year round from when they were in season locally, they are so
    much better for everyone/thing. love it.

    p.s. i'm cohosting the wednesday fresh foods blog hop @ gastronomical
    sovereignty if you want to stop by - this post is right up our ally. :)

  13. I also freeze plenty, do you have any tips for unfreezing meats, veggies, etc. rapidly without using a microwave? Thanks for all your tips!

  14. We don't use the microwave either. When I write my menu plans, I have a to-do section that reminds me to thaw frozen meat two days before I use it so I don't end up with frozen meat at dinnertime. :)


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