A lot of gardeners feel overwhelmed this time of year because all the vegetables seem to be ripening at once. But this is a time for action not panic. One of the easiest ways to preserve those tasty peppers and tomatoes is to freeze them.
How to freeze:
- Select ripe peppers and tomatoes. Rinse them in cool water, remove any insect or disease damage, and dry.
- With a sharp knife, slice the vegetables. Slices can be as thick as you like, but ¼” to ½” seems to work well.
- Place the slices in a single layer onto cookie sheets and place in the freezer.
- When they are frozen solid, pull the cookie sheets out of the freezer. Allow each to sit at room temperature just long enough so you are able to slide the vegetables off into plastic bags. Squeeze out as much air as possible and close up. Tip: Flexing the sheet a bit often releases the veggies.
- Place the filled bags back in the freezer. Frozen peppers and tomatoes are valuable for winter soups, sauces, casseroles, egg dishes, salsas, and salads. They can be cut into smaller pieces or diced if you like, or you can add them directly to soups and sauces.
Freezing these vegetables is easy-peasy and a great way to stretch the bounty of your hard work. If freezing or other food preservation isn’t on your menu, consider donating your extra produce to nearby food banks, soup kitchens, or other charities that feed the hungry. The Garden Writers Association Foundation’s Plant a Row for the Hungry has a listing of organizations that accepts donated fresh produce.