The Ultimate Guide: Choosing, Storing and Freezing Summer Produce

The Ultimate Guide: Choosing, Storing and Freezing Summer Produce

Peaches, strawberries, corn, oh my! Now's the time to enjoy summer produce while it's cheap, fresh and oh, so abundant. But sometimes it's confusing knowing what to look for to guarantee the sweetest, ripest batch of the bunch. And then preventing spoilage before you can enjoy them is your next challenge.

Fear not. We've gathered all you need to know about choosing, storing and freezing your best-loved summer produce to enjoy them at its freshest all year round!

Asparagus

Guide to Freezing and Storing Produce

  • What to look for: Firm stems, bright green or purple spears, spears closed tightly, squeaky when bunch is squeezed together.
  • Best way to store: Trim the woody ends. Place spears upright with stems in a container with water and cover with a plastic bag.
  • Best way to freeze: Trim the woody ends and cut into 1-inch pieces. Blanch your asparagus by boiling for 30-60 seconds and quickly transferring to an ice bath. Let completely dry and freeze in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet, about 1 hr. Store in an air-tight freezer-safe container or bag up to 1 year. Thicker asparagus freezes best.

Blueberries

Guide to Freezing and Storing Produce

  • What to look for: plump and firm, even colour, light dusty coating called "bloom" (less bloom might suggest too much handling during transportation).
  • Best way to store: Remove any spoiled or moldy berries ASAP! Keep refrigerated in a partially closed container lined with paper towel. Don't wash until just before eating. Delay spoilage further with a hot water bath or vinegar solution.
  • Best way to freeze: Wash, let completely dry and freeze in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet, about 4 hrs but no longer than a day (freezer burn!). Store in an air-tight freezer-safe container or bag up to 3 months.

Cherries

Guide to Freezing and Storing Produce

  • What to look for: Deep dark red colour (except for "rainier cherries"), firm, stems intact and bright green
  • Best way to store: Refrigerate in a plastic bag. Don't wash until just before eating.
  • Best way to freeze: Wash, let completely dry, remove pits, slice (if preferred) and freeze in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet, about 4 hrs but no longer than a day (freezer burn!). Store in an air-tight freezer-safe container or bag up to 3 months.

Corn

Guide to Freezing and Storing Produce

  • What to look for: Stored away from heat or direct sunlight at time of purchase, fresh and green husks (not dried out), husks snug around the ear, plump and tightly packed kernels
  • Best way to store: Eat same day of purchase or refrigerate in an air-tight container or tightly wrapped plastic up to 3 days. Keep the husk on until read to eat.
  • Best way to freeze: Blanch your corn by boiling for 5 minutes and quickly transferring to an ice bath. Let completely dry and freeze whole ear corn in a freezer bag up to 1 year. For whole kernels, slice off the cob after blanching and freeze in a freezer bag up to 2-3 months.

Nectarines

  • What to look for: Medium to large in size, sweet smell, orange-gold glow near the stem, plump with some yield when gently squeezed (no bruising, brown spots or wrinkled skin)
  • Best way to store: If already ripe, refrigerate in a plastic bag unwashed. To further ripen, place upside down at room temperature.
  • Best way to freeze: Wash, let completely dry, remove pits and skin (if preferred), slice and freeze in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet, about 4 hrs but no longer than a day (freezer burn!). Store in an air-tight freezer-safe container or bag up to 3 months.

Peaches

Guide to Freezing and Storing Produce

  • What to look for: Medium to large in size, sweet smell, orange-gold glow near the stem, plump with some yield when gently squeezed (no bruising, brown spots or wrinkled skin)
  • Best way to store: If already ripe, refrigerate in a plastic bag unwashed. To further ripen, place upside down at room temperature.
  • Best way to freeze: Wash, let completely dry, remove pits and skin (if preferred), slice and freeze in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet, about 4 hrs but no longer than a day (freezer burn!). Store in an air-tight freezer-safe container or bag up to 3 months.

Peas (green peas and snow peas)

  • What to look for: Bright green colour, snaps when bent in half (not limp), no cracks
  • Best way to store: Refrigerate in a plastic bag up to 4 days. Wash and remove strings just before eating.
  • Best way to freeze: Blanch your freshly shelled peas by boiling for 1.5 minutes and quickly transferring to an ice bath. Let completely dry and freeze in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet, about 1 hr. Store in an air-tight freezer-safe container or bag up to 1 year.

Raspberries

  • What to look for: Plump, slightly soft (not mushy), rich colour, dry and clean container (no signs of moisture or mold)
  • Best way to store: Raspberries spoil very quickly, so it's best to eat them as soon as possible. Remove any spoiled or moldy berries ASAP! Keep refrigerated in a partially closed container lined with paper towel. Don't wash until just before eating. Delay spoilage further with a hot water bath or vinegar solution.
  • Best way to freeze: Wash, let completely dry and freeze in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet, about 4 hrs but no longer than a day (freezer burn!). Store in an air-tight freezer-safe container or bag up to 3 months.

Strawberries

Guide to Freezing and Storing Produce

  • What to look for: Deep red colour, firmness (no bruising), sweet smell. Strawberries from local farmer's markets tend to be sweeter.
  • Best way to store: Remove any spoiled or moldy berries ASAP! Keep stems in and refrigerate in a partially closed container lined with paper towel. Don't wash until just before eating. Delay spoilage further with a hot water bath or vinegar solution.
  • Best way to freeze: Wash, let completely dry, remove stems, slice (if preferred) and freeze in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet, about 4 hrs but no longer than a day (freezer burn!). Store in an air-tight freezer-safe container or bag up to 3 months.

Tomatoes

Guide to Freezing and Storing Produce

  • What to look for: Plump with some yield when gently squeezed, bright red colour, smooth even skin (no bruising or wrinkling), bright green stems and leaves, sweet woody smell.
  • Best way to store: Keep at room temperature up to 2-3 days. To ripen, place in paper bag with an apple
  • Best way to freeze: Wash tomatoes and remove stems. Tomatoes can be frozen in chunks, slices, pureed or left whole in an air-tight freezer-safe container or bag up to 8 months. For tomato chunks and slices, freeze in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet first. (Note: tomato skins slide right off after thawing!) To freeze peeled tomatoes, boil for 1 minute to make it easier to peel off the skin. Cut tomatoes and drain excess liquid before freezing. Roma tomatoes are best for freezing.

Watermelon

  • What to look for: Firm, symmetrical, no bruising, dark green rind, feels heavy for its size, a creamy yellow (not white or green) "ground spot" where the watermelon had been sitting before picked, hollow sound when tapped, dull finish (not shiny)
  • Best way to store: Keep whole at room temp up to a week. After cutting, refrigerate in an air-tight container or tightly wrapped plastic up to 3 days.
  • Best way to freeze: Frozen watermelon is great for smoothies, agua fresca or as ice cubes to flavour your water. Slice into chunks and freeze in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet, about 4 hrs but no longer than a day (freezer burn!). Store in an air-tight freezer-safe container or bag up to 8-12 months. Use within 4 days of thawing.

Zucchini

Guide to Freezing and Storing Produce

  • What to look for: Rich and vibrant colour, smooth, no blemishes or wrinkles, even colour, 6-8 inches in length, glossy skin (not dull), firm and slightly flexible, stem isn't damaged
  • Best way to store: Refrigerate unwashed in a paper bag or loosely closed plastic bag in the crisper up to 1 week.
  • Best way to freeze: Cut into half-inch slices. Blanch your sliced zucchini by boiling for 45-60 seconds and quickly transferring to an ice bath. Let completely dry and freeze in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Store in an air-tight freezer-safe container or bag up to 3 months.

Have you tried any of these methods for storing and freezing summer produce? What seasonal fruits and vegetables can you just not live without?

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