It's August, and that means I'm busily trying to figure out a way to preserve the smells and flavors of my favorite vegetables. I enjoy stocking my freezer with the vegetables I've grown or bought in large quantities from local farmers.
Your freezer is one of the best ways to preserve the color and flavor of summer produce all year long. Here's some great tips for freezing the best selection of your favorite summer vegetables and herbs:
Can tomatoes be frozen raw?
Like peppers, tomatoes can be frozen raw. Frozen tomatoes are best used in cooked foods such as soups, sauces and stews as they become mushy when they're thawed.
Select firm, ripe tomatoes with deep red color. Wash and dip in boiling water for 30 seconds to loosen skins. Core and peel. Freeze whole or in pieces. Pack into containers, leaving l-inch headspace. Seal and freeze.
How about freezing fresh herbs?
Wash, drain and pat the herbs dry with paper towels. Wrap a few sprigs or leaves in freezer wrap and place in a freezer bag, then seal and freeze. The frozen herbs can be chopped and used in cooked dishes. After freezing, the herbs usually are not suitable for garnish, as they become limp when thawed.
This wonderful recipe for Gazpacho is a great way to use a variety of your favorite herbs and summer vegetables.
6 large tomatoes
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely diced
1 large green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 medium-sized red onion, minced
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 medium avocado, peeled and diced, for garnish
1 cup herbed croutons, for garnish
1. To peel the tomatoes, submerge them in boiling water for 15 seconds. (Dip just a few tomatoes at a time or the water temperature may be lowered too much to remove the skins without overheating the tomatoes.) Place in a colander and rinse under cold water. The skins should slip right off. Core the tomatoes and gently squeeze out the seeds. Chop half of the tomatoes coarsely and puree the other half in a food processor. Combine the puree and chopped tomatoes in a large mixing bowl.
2. Add the cucumber, bell pepper, onion, vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice and zest, parsley, basil, hot sauce, salt, pepper, sugar and nutmeg to the tomatoes. Mix gently to blend the ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for several hours before serving.
3. Serve chilled. Garnish with the avocado and herbed croutons, if desired. Makes 6 servings.
Angela Shelf Medearis is known as The Kitchen Diva and is the executive producer and host of "The Kitchen Diva!" cooking show on Hulu.com. Visit her website at www.divapro.com. Her new inspirational book is "Ten Ingredients for a Joyous Life and a Peaceful Home -- A Spiritual Memoir," co-written with Pastor Salem Robinson, Jr. (www.dunnsmemorial.com).
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.