From the land of La La: Boy, that huge bunch of broccoli sure looks fabulous. Mmmm. There are only two of us for dinner… but just look at it. And look! It’s a twofer – buy one get one, ha!
Common sense talkin’: Wait! You know you don’t intend to cook that much broccoli within a week!
From the land of La La: There will be a bunch of it leftover, but we can just eat broccoli a few times this week. Surly.
Common sense talkin’: So you bought it anyway huh? It sat there until it got limp and funny-looking, right? Uh, waddaya doing? Come on, don’t throw that out!
The scene you have just witnessed is true. For years I’ve been the culprit to such atrocities, I, I… I can’t even speak of it. The shame. Wasting food like that. I can hear my mother telling me about starving children in Africa and the words… “waste not want not”… oh the shame.
Well, those days are over. Mother was absolutely right and so I made a choice to change. Now, ‘Waste Not Want Not’ may as well be tattooed across my forehead. I can say that I use every bit of the food I put into my fridge in one way or another. And I use every lemon in the basket, every apple and orange on the counter, every tomato and head of cabbage that enters my house. Finally, I moved out of La La Land where waste and fairy tales are acceptable. And guess what? I am now going to preach to you about moving out too because the solution to that kind of waste is so easy: Why not take that last handful of corn, asparagus or whatever, and just freeze it? That broccoli you bought last week is just going to sit there because now it’s a little bit limp and no one will touch it, right? Well, it is still perfectly good to use if you get up and act now. And don’t fool yourself into thinking that freezing small batches of food is a waste of time. How easy would it be to grab a handful of broccoli out of the freezer for a quick stir-fry or a half cup of red bell peppers for scrambled eggs? Listen, if you do this, I bet you’ll be kicking yourself for not doing it sooner.
Have I convinced you yet? Awesome! Here’s what you do:
I invested in this amazing little machine… you can do the same (they range from $40 – $90) or use Ziplocks or Tupperware, whatever you prefer. I bought it to save space since we used a tiny little fridge for a long time while building our home.
Cut the bags to size. By the way, when I bought this machine I also bought a second roll of bags. But I have yet to open it because these beauties are reusable! My suggestion is to start with a size that has an extra two or three inches on it and then you can reuse it at least three times. FAB!
For this post we’re using what’s left of what was one of the biggest heads of purple cabbage I’d ever seen. I had to have it. (Yeah, I know.) I also had a couple stalks of limpy-whimpy broccoli all the way in the back of the bottom drawer of the fridge. I cut off the stalks and threw them back into the fridge. Stay with me now, they won’t go to waste. (If you have past-its-prime broccoli I want you to promise you’ll turn it, and any other veggies you have hanging around, into a soup stock… okay? It’s super easy and totally worth it.)
So I cleaned up the veggies and now it’s time to blanch them. Two minutes tops in gently boiling water will do the trick. You don’t want to cook them, just blanch them for better freezing. Do this with veggies only. Fruit is a different story and that info will be coming soon.
You’ll need to immediately cool it off so it doesn’t keep cooking. Some people like to have a bowl of cold water waiting to cool it – maybe add a few ices cubes to it – but I just run cold water over it.
Thoroughly drain/dry it off. The less water the better. That especially goes for this method of freezing (the Seal-a-Meal way). Since the machine draws all the air out, it sometimes will pull out any water too. That can make it hard to seal so be careful. If you find that the food has too much water in it, then “par-freeze” it (as I like to call it) by laying the food on a sheet of wax paper (single layer) and stick it in the freezer for a little while before sealing.
While these buddies are hanging out to dry, get the bags ready:
You want to seal one edge of the freezer bags per the instructions.
You should see a clean line all the way across.
Fill the bag and seal the other end. That’s it… the machine does the hard work for you.
If you are using Ziplocks, it’s probably a good idea to lay the food flat to get as much air out as possible and save space. If you are using a freezer-safe container, I suggest putting the food into a bag anyway, and then put it into the container. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like loose food in containers doesn’t do well; it’s more prone to freezer burn.
So there you go. Out of La La Land and into the freezer. These little handfuls of goodness are a homesteader’s answer to fast food. Not quite grab and go, but real close. It’s… “faster food”. Yeah, that’s it.