With the farmers market in full bloom, I'm often guilty of going overboard when it comes to buying produce. After years of (sadly) throwing out moldy strawberries and brown bananas, I've learned a simple trick that saves money, reduces waste, and ensures that there are always fruits and veggies in my house. Instead of throwing out rotting fruit, I now freeze my produce, which preserves its nutritional content and also halts the ripening process. Frozen produce can last in the freezer for up to a year, and the actual freezing process is remarkably simple to do.
If there's an abundant amount of produce in the house, estimate how much you'll need to last the week and then freeze the rest. Keep in mind that produce is best frozen when it's perfectly ripe.
When it comes to fruit, wash, peel, and dice before freezing. Put the fruit slices onto a cookie sheet and freeze overnight, then transfer the frozen fruit pieces into moisture-proof containers. By first freezing fruit on a cookie sheet, you avoid ending up with a massive block of frozen fruit later. Although I freeze fresh fruit as is, you can use sugar to maintain a fruit's flavor, color, and texture if you won't be using it soon after freezing. Lemon juice can also be used to preserve the color of fruits that would normally brown when exposed to air, like apples or pears. There's a ton of ways to use frozen fruit, but I love adding it to smoothies, oatmeal, and in fresh sauces, marinades, or salad dressings.
Before freezing vegetables, it's highly recommended that you blanch them first. Blanching halts the action of vegetable enzymes, which cause veggies to lose their color, flavor, and texture. Keep in mind that blanching time varies depending on the vegetable, and you want to make sure that veggies are cooled before you freeze them. Vegetables that you freeze at home can be cooked in the exact same way you would use frozen vegetables from the grocery store.