I saw Roma tomatoes on sale at Safeway this week for 79 cents lb, which is an excellent price, so I wanted to stock up on them but knew they’d go bad before we could eat all of them so I decided to freeze them. I’ll use them for sauces, stews, soups and casseroles. Of course once I decided to spend an afternoon freezing them, I thought, why not just load up on all the vegetables on sale this week and freeze everything. It took me an afternoon but now I have weeks of fresh vegetables I can pull out of the freezer and cook quickly and they are healthy because there’s no added preservatives or tons of sodium.
“Loss leaders” are items priced at cost or even at a loss to the grocery stores as an incentive to get you into the store. When you see these specials, stock up on them and you’ll save tons of money. I think the Roma tomatoes would be considered a “loss leader”. And if you freeze these specials, you’ll save money down the road when they aren’t on sale.
Here’s some tips on how to take advantage of sale prices on produce and freeze them…very easy!
Just a few of the fresh produce I found on sale….
You’ll need a big pot of salted boiling water and a big bowl of ice water for these freezing tips.
We eat tons of pasta, casseroles, stews and soups in the fall and winter so I went crazy with the Roma tomato sale! These are so easy to freeze and you can freeze tomatoes whole, chopped, sliced or pureed. I decided to chop most of my tomatoes which I’ll mostly use in sauce and soup.
- Wash your tomatoes and with a sharp knife, score the bottom of them (cut a small x).
- Put tomatoes in a big pot of boiling salted water. When the skin begins to peel back from your “x” spot, scoop out and plunge in to a bowl of cold ice water. (This stops the cooking process). Leave them in the ice water for about 5 minutes.
- Drain the tomatoes and when cool enough to handle, peel the skin off. (You can leave skin on but it tends to be tough…most freezing tips suggest you take it off.)
- At this point, you can leave your tomatoes whole or slice, chop or puree them. I prefer chopping mine for the recipes I’ll later use them in.
- Place the tomatoes in a freezer bag, make sure you get all the air out of the bag and label with the vegetable and date.
Tammy’s Tip ‘O The Day
Once you’re ready to freeze a bag of vegetables, place the bag flat on a cookie sheet and pop in the freezer for an hour or so. Once they have started to freeze, remove from the cookie sheet and put back in the freezer. This will help the bag stay flat and easier to store in the freezer.
Sweet corn on the cob is the best tasting this time of the year and usually on sale. I like to freeze the kernels and add them to soups and casseroles.
- Remove the husks from the ears and drop in boiling salted water for a few minutes and then cold shock them.
I saw this great tip on The Rachael Ray Show for removing the kernels….place a small bowl upside down inside a larger bowl.
- Steady the end of the corn on the bottom of the smaller bowl. Take your knife and cut downward on the cob and the kernels will fall into the larger bowl. No mess!
- Spread the kernels on a cookie sheet, let dry and then bag and label. Keep your cobs and freeze them in a bag for future homemade stock.
For other vegetables you can freeze, this is a great link. You’ll notice they say you can freeze tomatoes, onions and bell peppers without blanching them first. It often depends on how you’ll later use the vegetables. I personally don’t like the consistency of tomatoes frozen without blanching.
I prefer freezing onions without blanching them first because I like to cook them up with garlic to add to recipes. Onions are in season year round but when they are on sale for a great price, I buy them and freeze. I saw a 3-lb bag of purple onions on sale for $1.99 at Safeway (they weren’t an advertised special-there were only a few bags and they were slightly getting soft so I think that’s why they were on sale.)
When you peel or chop off the ends of vegetables, if you do it over a bowl, you can toss all the scraps in a freezer bag for a great vegetable stock (or meat stock if you add bones). Simply keep the vegetables in the freezer bag and add to it until it’s full.
Here’s my bag of scraps. I’ll cook these in a pot of water with whatever herbs I have on hand for about 40 minutes, strain the scraps out, and freeze the broth for any recipes that call for vegetable stock. Saves TONS of money! By using the scraps that most people throw out, this is free!
Here’s my bags of frozen bell pepper, carrots, onion, zucchini, squash, eggplant, corn and tomatoes. By freezing them first on cookie sheets, look how flat and easy to store they are!