Preserving Peak Produce, No Canning Required

Preserving Peak Produce, No Canning Required

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.  

Alton Brown's Frozen Squash

Alton Brown’s Frozen Squash

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.

How to Freeze Stone Fruit

Alton Brown’s Frozen Peaches

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.

Refrigerator Pickles also require very little hands on time and no canning equipment, we’ve shared AB’s B & B here before, but this week we made a riff on the Kinda Sorta Sours.

Alton Brown's Watermelon Rind Pickles Recipe

Alton Brown’s Watermelon Rind Pickles

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.



Add yours
  1. 1
    christine kantorik

    I have been dehydrating my sliced zucchini. Works great in soup, stews and sauces. It doesn’t mush when rehyrated.

  2. 2
    Cele Durney

    When the tomato vines go berserk and you can’t keep up with canning the tomatoes, an easy way to deal with them is to rinse and dry the tomatoes and put them in a paper bag in the freezer for future use for soups and stews. When you need some, just remove them from the paper bag and run them under warm (not hot) water. The skins will peel very easily. I then usually let them sit for about 20-30 minutes before attempting to dice them and remove the core. Cele Durney

  3. 3
    Va Bushon

    You are better off shredding your zucchini, lightly salting it (helps to rid the squash of its juices), squeezing out the moisture and freezing in a convenient size vacuum pack, then you can use it in soups, breads, etc and it will have less tendency to mush when thawed. You can use the liquid in water (like the cucumber juice when I make pickle relish), straight up or add to your smoothies. I also freeze the zucchini liquid for future use. It is not recommended to can your zucchini. I love giving away my veggies to those in need, too. Can it, dehydrate it, or freeze it and give it away is my motto.

  4. 4

    The Vitamin C, ascorbic acid, is an antioxidant. It serves to preserve flavor and color. You can get unflavored ones. Or, if you like the flavor the Orange flavored tablets impart, you can use those, too.

  5. 5

    I am looking very forward to giving this a try, though not for the purpose of preservation, necessarily. The blanch and shock method gives me a great way to eat nearly fresh fruits that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to eat due to oral allergy syndrome. Stone fruits are an absolute no-no (among many other, unfortunately) as the proteins in them cause an extreme allergic reaction (epi-pen level reactions) for me. However, the flash heating causes the proteins to change just enough to make them edible for me, while actually keeping them in a firmer, more natural state. A very welcomed change from the cooked/mostly mushy consistency of fully canned fruits. Thank you, Alton!

  6. 9

    I little more instruction on the blanching process might actually make your post useful. How long for one, and how long for the other? Seriously. 😐

  7. 10

    Ok, so here is my problem. I have an extremely old recipe for extremely excellent watermelon rind pickles. However, the breeders of watermelons are now going for seedless and, apparently, rindless watermelon. I cannot find watermelon that has rind thick enough to pickle. What to do, what to do?

  8. 11
    Annalee Gilbert

    Mr Brown, this past month, I was able to purchase two lugs of Georgia peaches. The first box, my husband and boys ate up in three days. 25 pounds between 3 men! The second box I was able to use your recipe to freeze. I am so looking forward on the Iowa frozen winter to make peach cobbler to remind me that summer will come again. Thanks again for all your diligence work. Annalee Gilbert.

+ Leave a Comment