So this may come to you as a shock, but I’m not the only culinarian around here (here being Brain Food Industries my test kitchen) generating life-enhancing recipes, tips, and advice for American cooker-folk. In fact, my Director of Culinary Ops, Meghan Splawn, has been working behind my scenes for years. She’ll be sharing wisdom from our test kitchens on a weekly basis — nothing classified mind you, but she can cook up a storm so you might want to pay attention.
It is hot as hell here in Georgia, the kids are starting to go back to school, which means summer produce is at its peak. We’re taking some time this week to stock our test kitchen freezers and fridges with ripe peaches, peas, summer squash and a few pickles.
Freezing produce is the easiest way to quickly store fresh specimens for a long haul with no special equipment. Prepare vegetables like shelled peas or sliced squash for the deep freeze by blanching and shocking: Bring a gallon of water and a pinch of salt to a boil, quickly cook the vegetables, then chill them in an ice bath. Blanching helps the vegetables keep their vibrant colors, but it also kills surface bacteria and enzymes that cause spoilage.
Pat the produce dry with paper towels and freeze flat on a baking sheet. Once frozen, transfer them into a large zip-top bag. Lay the bag flat on a counter and using a straw, suck out any remaining air in the bag. Label and return to the freezer.
This frozen peach application is one of our absolute favorites. Don’t be turned off by the smoked paprika, it helps the peaches keep their peachy hue and adds a smoky sweetness. A serrated peeler can be used to peel the peaches, but we found there’s less waste if you score the bottom of the peaches with an shallow “X” then blanch and shock before removing the skins by hand.
Strawberry Freezer Jam only takes about 20 minutes and requires zero canning equipment.
And after we’ve eaten our weight in watermelon? Pickled Watermelon Rind.
Our favorite way to preserve summer heirloom tomatoes is actually Alton’s Tomato Vodka and Bloody Mary recipes, cheers.