Tips for Freezing Fresh Herbs, Garden Tomatoes, and Vegetables
I’ve been gardening for more years than you can imagine, and this post shares my Tips for Freezing Fresh Herbs, Garden Tomatoes, and Vegetables! If you have a good tip yourself, please share in the comments!
If you’re growing your own vegetables and herbs, you’re probably starting to feel that longing to keep the garden produce around a bit longer. My favorite way to preserve garden goodness is by freezing things like tomato sauce, fresh herbs, pesto, and other garden sauces to use during the winter. I’ve written a lot of posts about freezing things from the garden, and since it’s a big holiday weekend when folks have extra time I’m collecting them all here into a round-up of Tips for Freezing Fresh Herbs, Garden Tomatoes, and Vegetables. I hope if you have a garden you’ll find one of my tips useful, and after I finish this I’m taking the rest of the weekend off to have fun!
(By the way, I know there are other vegetables or herbs that can be frozen that I haven’t tried yet, so if you’re a blogger with different tips than mine about freezing garden produce, please feel free to share share those links in the comments.)
Let’s start with How to Make and Freeze Tomato Sauce. My method doesn’t require a food mill, although you can strain the sauce if you want to. I love to use this plain tomato sauce in soups and stews during the winter.
If you have fresh tomatoes and basil in your garden, I recommend making Sausage and Basil Marinara Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes and freezing it in containers to eat over pasta or use to make lasagna when it gets cold outside. If you really have a lot of tomatoes you might prefer my Roasted Tomato, Italian Sausage, and Basil Sauce that doesn’t use any canned tomatoes.
If you’re growing Roma tomatoes, you’ll want to read How to Make Slow Roasted Tomatoes. This is something I love to have in the freezer and your house smells amazing while you’re making them. You can also use these to make Chunky Pasta Sauce with Sausage, Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic, and Basil. (That sauce could be frozen if it’s made with freshly-roasted slow roasted tomatoes and fresh basil, although in the post linked above I made it with frozen slow roasted tomatoes and frozen basil.)
One of the most popular posts on my blog is How to Freeze Fresh Basil. I use this chopped frozen basil that’s coated with olive oil all winter long in soups, stews, and pasta sauce. (I bought these little containers at a store that’s no longer in business, but any small container with a snap-tight lid will work.)
If you have an abundance of basil you might also want to make Basil Pesto with Lemon for the freezer. (That post also has Ten Ideas for Using Basil Pesto, so make a double batch so you can eat some right away!) I also love to freeze Spinach and Basil Pesto, Kale and Basil Pesto, and Chard and Garlic Scape Pesto.
Another sauce made with fresh basil that freezes beautifully is French Pistou Sauce. This doesn’t contain nuts or cheese, and it’s often used as a topping on vegetable or bean soups in France.
If you have an abundance of fresh sage, you can make Sage-Pecan Pesto, which is nice for serving over roasted vegetables or stuffing chicken breasts. (Sage is a pretty strong flavor, so be sure to taste the pesto at the end and decide if you want to add more cheese.)
Something new that I made for the first time this year and loved is this Chard and Garlic Scape Pesto, shown here in mini-muffin tins ready for the freezer. This is good on pasta, but I also like it stirred into rice or scrambled eggs. (If you have chard but no garlic scapes, the recipe has a suggestion for making it with minced fresh garlic.)
Another popular post (despite some pretty horrible old photos) is the one on How to Freeze Fresh Herbs: Rosemary and Thyme. I never have to buy fresh rosemary or thyme in the winter, because I always have it in the freezer!
I also have a post about Freezing Thai Basil, Sage, Tarragon, and Mint. (All froze very successfully, but I didn’t find the frozen Thai Basil to be something I used nearly as much as the frozen sage, frozen tarragon, or frozen mint.)
If you’re lucky enough to have an abundance of green, red, or yellow bell peppers in your garden, read my post about How to Roast Red Bell Peppers on a Barbecue Grill, and then chop up the roasted peppers and freeze them. (I’m not that great at growing bell peppers, so if anyone has pepper-growing tips lay them on me in the comments, please!)
And if you’re growing any kind of spicy chile pepper just follow the instructions for How to Roast Anaheim Green Chiles on a Barbecue Grill, and they can be frozen once they’re roasted. I didn’t grow any hot chiles this year, but I think Poblanos are on my list for next year’s garden!
My Favorite Freezing Tool:
Finally, one of my best freezing tips no matter what you’re freezing is to seal the food inside a plastic bag using a FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer before you put it in the freezer. I’ve had a FoodSaver for more than 20 years and couldn’t imagine how I would get by without it. (Blogger Disclosure: FoodSaver probably doesn’t even know I’m alive, and the company has certainly never paid me or given me free merchandise to mention their products on my blog. I’m now on my second FoodSaver, a standing model that holds the bags inside, and I like it even more than the original one I had for many years.)Happy Labor Day everyone, no matter where you are . . .
That’s all my freezing tips for now, so let’s get this Labor Day Weekend started! If anyone is planning to have Labor Day parties instead of freezing their garden produce, you can see my favorite summer party foods in the Recipes for Summer Holiday Parties. Although Labor Day is the symbolic end of summer in the U.S., there are also good reasons why we celebrate it. And if you have a good job and maybe even get Labor Day off, this might be a nice weekend to make a donation to help others who are not quite so lucky.