Home Freezing, Preservation Ideas: Fruits, Veggies (cont.)
If you want to cut down on sugar in your jam or fruit preserves, you can buy packages of pectin made especially for "less sugar" or "no sugar" recipes (they work for freezer recipes as well as cooked ones). Sure-Jell and Ball Fruit Jell are the two brands available in most supermarkets. Inside each box is an instruction sheet. Don't lose this; it's your go-to guide for making your less-sugar jam.
You'll also need some freezer jars. Many companies that make glass jars for canning also make plastic jars for freezing. Ball, for example, sells a five-pack of 8-ounce plastic freezer jars. Ideally, you want containers that have a screw top so the top won't pop off when the mixture freezes and expands. Rubbermaid sells a "twist & seal" plastic container three-pack, with each container holding about 1 1/2 cups of jam or sauce.
Fruits other than berries may require a bit of cooking for turning them into jam. You can either buy the "less sugar" or "no sugar" pectin described above, or, if you've got time, you can boil the fruit pulp for a longer period of time and eventually it will thicken into a fruit butter or preserve. Apple butter is often made this way. (Check out the recipe for 1-Hour Apple Pie Apple Butter below.)
And how do you cook yourself a batch of fruit jam in the winter months? Simple -- use the fruit you froze last summer. Just partially thaw the fruit in the refrigerator, until a few ice crystals still remain. But, because fruit tends to collapse during thawing, use the measurement of the fruit before it was frozen (you could label your bag with this measurement before freezing.) Three cups of unfrozen fruit might measure as 2 cups after partial thawing.
Basil is one of the most popular herbs with home gardeners, in part because it grows so quickly. There's nothing better than fresh basil, if you ask me, but dried and frozen basil will get you through the winter months. One of the best ways to preserve your fresh basil is to chop it up and make green ice cubes. Here's how you make them:
Freezer Tomato Sauce
Homemade tomato sauce tastes great on pasta, pizza, and meat dishes, and is a great way to preserve all those extra tomatoes from your garden. Health-wise, it's best to cook tomato sauce or tomato puree for a short while and add some olive oil to the mixture, because these steps enhances your body's ability to absorb the healthy phytochemicals from the tomatoes. You can choose to cook your homemade spaghetti or marinara sauce before or after you freeze it. (See the Blender Marinara Sauce recipe below.)
Freezer Recipes for Preserving Fruits and Vegetables
Ready to start freezing? Check out these three recipes featuring fresh fruits and vegetables.
Strawberry Orange Freezer Jam
Yield: Makes at least 6 1-cup containers of jam
1-Hour Apple Pie Apple Butter
Yield: Makes about 3 cups of apple butter (24 servings of 2 tablespoons each)