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Chilling Out

A guide to freezing--and cooking--summer vegetables at their peak.

My experiments with freezing vegetables date back to when I worked as a food stylist; they were inspired as much by necessity as curiosity. After every shoot, I found myself carting home bags of produce, but it just wasn't possible to eat everything before it spoiled. Faced with so much potential waste--unthinkable--I quickly learned a few simple techniques that made my frozen vegetables taste fresher and look better than any I could buy. Blanching, or briefly boiling vegetables in water, stops the enzymes that ripen and ultimately rot vegetables, and it works well with corn, beans and okra. Salting or roasting vegetables such as summer squash and tomatoes removes excess water and discourages the formation of ice crystals, which virtually crush vegetables from inside as they expand and contract. And freezing vegetables in a single layer prevents them from sticking together. These five recipes, which take advantage of both fresh and frozen summer vegetables, are my findings from those early experiments.

If you use frozen vegetables for the following recipes, be sure to prepare them as described in the freezing quide.

Published August 2000
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