Freezing Vegetables — Even Cucumbers!

Real food rots, and when you can't be sure what's going to be in your CSA box it's sometimes hard to fit it all into the meal plan. To keep the leftover vegetables from going bad I freeze them in plastic zipper-type freezer bags.

Vegetables that will end up in a soup or stew, and most things that would be stir-fried or steamed are obvious candidates for freezing. Keep in mind that anything that can go into a smoothie freezes well too.

The process is simple: make sure your veggies are washed and cut into usable pieces. You don't want to have to try to peel or chop rock-hard vegetables straight out of the freezer! If they're too wet when you put them in the freezer, they will stick together, so either dry them first, or spread them on a cookie sheet in a single layer to freeze for a couple of hours before bagging them.

The cucumbers below are an example of wet vegetables freezing together. I don't mind, though, because I know I will mostly be using them a handful at a time. I didn't tear up the kale because once frozen it becomes brittle and easy to break, and the beets are in chunks because I plan to use them in smoothies. I would have sliced them if I'd intended to cook them.

Kale, of course, is perfect for green smoothies, and beets make smoothies bright pink (like in this cherry chocolate milkshake recipe). Cucumbers pair well with melon to make a mild, refreshing smoothie, but there's also an even simpler use for frozen cucumber slices: infused water.

Adding fresh or frozen fruits or vegetables — like cucumber — to plain, filtered water adds a subtle flavor and even makes the water more hydrating. Toss a couple of slices into a glass for yourself or float a handful in a punchbowl for a party. 

I was excited to discover that frozen cucumber slices work so well for this because I'm not crazy about eating cucumbers fresh. I like them, but I get tired of them easily. I don't always finish a whole cucumber before it begins to go bad, especially the extra-long varieties. Now I don't have to worry anymore! I can eat a few slices, then freeze the rest to use at my leisure.

What is your favorite vegetable-freezing tip?

Have you discovered an unexpected use for a particular frozen veggie?