What's in the box? July 14, 2015

When writing these posts every week, my goal has always been to suggest ways you can use the produce in your box at its freshest. But this week I'm all about preserving that freshness for later, as I'm heading out of town for a few days, and in this heat nothing lasts for long.

I have had a few adventures with canning and pickling, but the night before heading out on a two-day road trip with my three small children did not strike me as the right time to embark on another such adventure.

Instead, I discovered I could blanching and freeze just about everything in the box in about an hour—and without having to break out the canning equipment. With any luck, I will have my week's worth of produce still waiting for me when I get home.

So here's what was in the box this week:

Juliette tomatoes, 2 pints
Large tomatoes, 6
Eggplants, 3
Squash, 3-4
Bell Peppers, 3-4
Onions, 4-5
Garlic, 1
Basil, 1 bunch

And here's how I've "put it by" for later:

Freezing Tomatoes
I separated mine by type into large gallon-size freezer bags, and put them in the freezer. That's all there was to it! My plan is to turn them into tomato sauce when I return. Apparently, freezing then thawing tomatoes makes their skins slip right off. Who knew?  Here's a little background about how freezing tomatoes works.

Freezing Peppers
Following these instructions, I washed and seeded my peppers, and cut them into thin strips. Then I spread them on a cookie sheet and placed them in the freezer for about an hour before transferring them to a freezer bag. This is to help the pieces freeze individually, so that I can take out just what I need later for use in chicken fajitas or vegetable soups.

Freezing Eggplant
I tried P. Allen Smith's instructions for freezing breaded eggplant last week with great success in Will's recipe for Breaded Eggplant Subs . I'll make a few more of those satisfying subs in the coming weeks, as well as this recipe for Eggplant Parmesan. I love that breaded and baked eggplant tastes just as good as fried eggplant but it's much healthier and far less messy.

Freezing Pesto
There are so many great recipes for making fresh pesto out there. I like this one for explaining the whys and wherefores of ratios and substitutions, as well as the trick to storing it in the freezer: 1) Use the smallest container, and 2) fill the container with a little extra olive oil.

Freezing Squash
This was the first time I have attempted to blanche and freeze squash. I used these instructions, and plan to use the thawed squash in a vegetable soup.