With all the wonderful fresh summer produce that is in season now, you may want to freeze some to enjoy later in the year. Check out this article by Sara Clement, RD, LDN with the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina, with step by step directions. You’ll also find a wonderful recipe for Tomato Zucchini Salad from the Food Bank.
Taste of Summer
By Sara Clement, RD, LDN
Summer is the best time of year for fresh fruits and vegetables in North Carolina! Great places to find fresh, local produce are Farmer’s Markets, Farm Stands, and Community Gardens. In-season produce has shorter transportation times and is picked at the peak of freshness so it is bursting with flavor and has a lower cost. Produce that is ripened on the vine has more flavor and is shown to be more nutrient dense. To enjoy the Taste of Summer throughout the year, try freezing fresh fruits and vegetables. Freezing allows you to lock in nutrients and flavor to enjoy them months later.
Use these easy steps to freeze your favorite vegetables:
• Wash vegetables thoroughly in cold water.
• Chop vegetables into sizes to freeze.
• Blanch vegetables. Blanching helps keep the vibrant color, flavor, and texture of the vegetables. Blanching times differ depending on vegetable.
• Immediately cool vegetables in cold or ice water for the same amount of time the vegetables were blanched. Drain well.
• Place cooled vegetables in freezer bags or on a tray and place in freezer. If placing on a tray, remove after they are frozen and place in freezer bags. Vegetables frozen on a tray do not freeze in clumps and can be removed individually as needed.
• Label bags with contents and freezing date.
Most vegetables keep for 8-12 months after freezing. By labeling the bags, you can use the first-in, first-out system to ensure you are using the vegetables in the same order as frozen. To get more information about freezing fresh produce, visit your local North Carolina Cooperative Extension, www.ces.ncsu.edu. Whether you grow your own fruits and vegetables, get them from a Farmer’s Market, or your local grocery store, freezing at the peak of freshness will allow you to enjoy those delicious vegetables throughout the year.
Tomato Zucchini Salad Recipe
Following is a recipe for Tomato Zucchini Salad provided by the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina.
About the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina: The Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina is a nonprofit organization that has provided food for people at risk of hunger in 34 counties in central and eastern North Carolina for 40 years. The Food Bank serves a network of more than 900 partner agencies such as soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, and programs for children and adults through warehouses in Durham, Greenville, New Bern, Raleigh, the Sandhills (Southern Pines), and Wilmington.
The Food Bank not only feeds those who are hungry; but also works to benefit community health. That’s why, in 2016, the Food Bank launched a Community Health & Engagement Department. With two nutritionists on staff, the Food Bank shares recipes, healthy tips, and other resources for partner agencies and neighbors in need. The on-site teaching kitchen in Raleigh offers cooking demonstrations and nutrition education to highlight easy, quick, and low-cost recipes using healthful foods like whole grains, fresh produce, low fat dairy, and lean meats.
Monthly Articles from the Food Bank
The Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina shares regular articles about nutrition and health education so we know what to look for when we head to the grocery store and plan our healthy meals.
February 2020 Article: New changes to the food label guidelines
March 2020 Article: Bite by Bite: Small changes can have a cumulative healthful effect
April 2020 Article: Food Planning During the Coronavirus Pandemic