Every year around this time I start taking inventory of what I've got in my freezer to get ready for school. I'm a big believer in homemade lunches, snacks, and desserts. However, we don't actually have a deep freezer, so I've gotten very good at both packing the freezer as well as organizing it and keeping in mind what we have on hand.
This late summer seems to show what a banner year it was for gardeners. I, myself, am not a gardener, much to my mother's chagrin. However, I fully appreciate and enjoy the bounty of other people's work. A friend dropped off a bag full of zucchinni, herbs, saskatoons, and snap peas yesterday. We traded for a bag of chicken bones. I feel like I got the better bargain! I'm quite thrilled with all of it.
We enjoy saskatoon berries fresh by the handful, in baking (saskatoon berry and apple crisp- so delicious!), and frozen. My first son especially enjoys eating frozen berries as a snack. You can eat them in a pie, as a jam, or blended up into smoothies. To freeze berries, first wash them lightly in a colander. Shake out the excess water and lay in a single layer on a cookie sheet topped with parchment paper. Once the berries freeze, scoop into a labeled freezer bag, squish out the air, and store until needed.
Zucchinni is a fantastic squash that is fairly bland in flavour. Because of that, you can mix it into just about anything, from muffins, cake, and loaves to spaghetti sauce. I like to freeze it in two ways- in small diced pieces for Minestrone soup, and grated in 1/2 cup portions for sweet breads like pineapple or chocolate zucchinni loaf, or to hide in sauces. Minestrone freezes very well. To freeze as pieces, lay out on parchment paper and freeze like berries before transferring to a freezer bag. To freeze grated zucchinni, I put my half-cup measured portion in a zipper sandwich bag, squish out the air, freeze flat, then put the bag into a large ziplock freezer bag.
To make room in the freezer for my fresh garden bounty, I cooked up my remaining chicken bones in the crockpot the night before last. Today I skimmed off the fat and ended up with five bags of chicken stock. Each bag contains around 2-2.5 cups of stock. I use ziplock medium freezer bags, and fill them about half full with stock before zipping them. It's second nature to me now to make sure to zip out a flat bag- air taking up space in the bag makes it quicker to get freezer burn and harder to store in a space-challenged freezer. Each pot of soup I make usually uses two bags of stock.
Because these foods need their own space to freeze flat, I have to freeze in batches. As we speak, there is a small batch of diced zucchinni and saskatoons taking up residence in the freezer, and three bags of stock laying out just chilling. Once those are frozen the remaining vegetables, fruit, and stock will take their turn. It is challenging to get the freezer ready for fall, and somewhat time-consuming, but once these items are frozen and ready for use it will make my meals so much more easy to plan and prepare. After I get these items frozen and put away I can start stockpiling baking. I have a pretty tasty list in mind, but that will be another post on another day. Enjoy your summer!