Freeze Fresh

The Ultimate Guide to Preserving 55 Fruits and Vegetables for Maximum Flavor and Versatility


By Crystal Schmidt

Foreword by Eve Kilcher

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Capturing the peak flavor of freshly harvested produce and preserving it for year-round eating is easier than ever with Freeze Fresh, the ultimate guide to freezing and enjoying more than 55 popular fruits and vegetables. Author Crystal Schmidt shares her time-tested preparation techniques that ensure color, texture, and flavor are retained in the freezer. From familiar favorites like apples, corn, potatoes, and peas to surprises like lettuce, avocado, and citrus fruit, Schmidt details the best ways to prepare each food for the freezer, including pre-cooking, slicing, blanching, and more. She offers more than 100 recipes that freeze well, such as Blueberry Maple Pancake Sauce, Pickled Sliced Beets, Mango Chutney, and Honey Butter Carrot Mash–as well as delicious ways to cook the frozen food after thawing, including Creamy Parmesan Confetti Corn, Tart Cherry Oatmeal Bars, Broccoli Cheese Soup, and Blueberry-Matcha Latte Smoothie. Home cooks and gardeners alike will love discovering how easy and economical it can be to fill your freezer with produce customized to your own tastes and needs.



To all of the home preservers who have come before me, who have been growing and putting up food for their families for generations—even before the modern marvel of refrigeration—thank you for your inspiration.


Foreword by Eve Kilcher


A Fresh Look at Freezing Food

Freezing Basics

Why Freeze Produce?

Early Cooling Devices

The Science of Freezing Fruits & Vegetables

Essential Freezing Techniques

Steam Blanching

Boiling-Water Blanching

How to Flash Freeze

Types of Freezer Containers

Removing Air from Containers

Labeling Containers

Helpful Tools & Supplies

All about Freezers

How to Manually Defrost a Chest or Upright Freezer

Special Techniques for Freezing & Working with Frozen Foods

How to Make Baked Desserts Using Frozen Fruit

Freezing Produce from A to Z







Bok Choy













Garlic Cloves & Scapes

Ginger & Turmeric


Green Beans


















Sweet Potatoes



Winter Squash & Pumpkin

Zucchini & Other Summer Squashes

Recipes Listing


Expand Your Preserving Know-How with More Books from Storey

Share Your Experience!


By Eve Kilcher, author of Homestead Kitchen and costar of Alaska: The Last Frontier

Growing up on a small family farm in Alaska, gardening and preserving food have been part of my life since childhood. In my twenties, I became inspired to integrate regenerative agriculture and a more self-sufficient lifestyle into my work and started a commercial organic vegetable garden on my family's property. A few years into this endeavor, the Discovery Channel contacted my husband, Eivin, and me to be part of a show they wanted to create about living off the land in Alaska, called Alaska: The Last Frontier. One of the greatest gifts the show has brought to my life is the ability to share with a wider audience our passion for living a healthier, more self-sufficient lifestyle in which we give back to the earth and humanity more than we take (not a small feat). I have always believed that it is important to feel connected to where our food comes from. When we do, I believe our own health and the wellbeing of our community are positively impacted. You could say that food and health are my faith and devotion.

Crystal has been such an inspiration to me, prompting me to try many new things. She truly embodies the homesteading spirit and is always willing to share her knowledge in a way that's easy to understand and approachable. Her love of heirloom beans is contagious and is what sparked our social media friendship. I am now obsessed with growing her beans in Alaska, which, let me tell you, is not easy in our short growing season! It is so neat to trade resources across the country with another food lover and gardener.

As one of the most thorough people I know and an incredible cook, Crystal is the perfect person to write a preserving and recipe book. I trust that if I follow her instructions on how to make anything, it will be successful and taste heavenly. There are few comprehensive resources for preserving food through freezing, and this book fills a huge gap. Freezing is an essential way to preserve food and is much easier and more foolproof than canning. I think the more accessible we can make food processing and home preserving, the better.

The techniques in this book will allow anyone to put up high-quality in-season produce, whether they grow it themselves or buy it in the store, to enjoy year-round. I hope you glean as much inspiration and practical knowledge from this lovely book as I have.


Whether you grow your own food, buy from a local farmer, or are simply looking to put up bulk produce that you got a good deal on, freezing is an excellent way to preserve what's in abundance now and to tuck it away for later.

All my life I've had a spark in me to grow and preserve food. One of my earliest gardening memories is of sitting in the dirt in my grandma's garden when I was just a little girl, unwrapping and eating ground cherries while she weeded. She taught my dad to garden, and he taught me. I grew up eating a lot of homegrown food, and I'm incredibly thankful for that.

There's a grocery store just 10 minutes from my house, but that doesn't stop me from putting my heart and soul into growing my own food every year. My fella, Karl, and I pack a lot of gardening into a short growing season on our homestead in Wisconsin. We preserve all we can, then ride out the winter.

For me, growing food is grounding; it makes me feel connected and whole. I share a lot of our life on social media and on my website, and I find great joy in inspiring others with what we're growing, eating, and preserving. I wish that more people could experience growing their own food. I truly think it could change the world.

A Fresh Look at Freezing Food

In the chapters to come, you'll find three main types of content:

  1. 1. thoughtful, detailed freezing techniques for common fruits and vegetables
  2. 2. delicious recipes that freeze well, letting your produce shine
  3. 3. recipes that use frozen produce

With freezing, it's important to manage your expectations. Frozen food is tasty in its own right, but it's not the same as fresh. Freezing is an exceptional preservation tool, but most fruits and vegetables will change in the freezer, and it's helpful to recognize this. What we can do is be smart about what we freeze and learn to use frozen food in ways that highlight its best qualities.

There is so much joy in taking fresh produce, transforming it into delicious food that your family enjoys, and squirrelling it away. I hope that the ideas in this book are a jumping-off point that inspires you to try freezing food in new ways.

Freezing Basics

Why Freeze Produce?

Over the years, freezing has become my favorite way to preserve food. I still ferment, can, and dehydrate some of our homegrown produce, but the majority gets frozen. I find that freezing has some advantages over other preserving techniques, and when done properly, freezing preserves many of the valuable nutrients in fruits and vegetables.

I value the freedom that comes with freezing instead of canning. While I still follow general food-safety recommendations, it's refreshing not to have to worry about safe-canning rules, acidity, and botulism; this allows me to be more creative in the kitchen. It's almost always less work to freeze food than to can it—no standing in front of a hot canner for hours! Dehydrating can be useful, but rehydrated food, especially vegetables, always falls a little flat for me.

Freezing is a convenient way to tuck away small quantities of produce as well as items that aren't well suited for other preservation methods. A couple of pounds of tomatoes isn't enough to make canning worthwhile, but it is enough to chop up and toss in the freezer.

Early Cooling Devices

Freezing food may seem like a modern invention, but cultures have been preserving this way for ages. For as long as humans have been around, we've been preserving food—it's a basic form of survival. If you didn't grow or forage it, and if you didn't preserve it, you didn't eat. Today's preserving tools may differ from those 50, 100, or even 10,000 years ago, but the sentiment and science behind old and new methods are very much the same.

Karl's grandpa as a young man, cutting blocks of ice from the frozen lake to fill the icehouse. The blocks would provide refrigeration for the warm summer months.

When Karl's grandpa was a young boy growing up on a rural Wisconsin farm in the 1930s, his family didn't have electric refrigeration, so they would fill an icehouse every year. In February, when the lake was deeply frozen, they would use a handheld saw to cut out 18-inch cubes of ice. It took two men to pull an ice block out of the lake and a horse to haul it up the bank. The blocks were loaded onto a bobsled and brought to the icehouse, where they were packed tightly into a 10-foot cube. After about 3 days of work the icehouse would be full, and 2 feet of dry sawdust was packed all around the ice for insulation. Because of its mass, this ice would last all summer long. The family would chip off pieces of ice and place them in the top compartment of a wooden icebox they kept on the porch. Perishable foods (mainly fresh dairy) were stored in the cabinet below. Oh, how life was different back then!

While I've always been drawn to simpler times, I do appreciate our modern technology. Indoor plumbing—inspired! Unlimited information at the click of a button—amazing! Electric refrigeration—glorious!

We sure have come a long way. There were many talented inventors who worked on developing and improving cooling technology in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Frozen food didn't have a great reputation at the time because it could only be frozen slowly, which caused it to become mushy, pale, and flavorless once thawed. In addition, those early freezers were dangerous because of the chemicals used in the cooling elements.

Frozen food as we know it today got its start in 1927, when Clarence Birdseye patented the multiplate freezing machine. This would become the precursor to modern freezing technology. This machine was able to freeze food quickly, thus preserving its quality. While working as a fur trader in northern Canada, Birdseye had observed the Inuit using ice, wind, and temperature to instantly freeze freshly caught fish. Once thawed, the fish were just as good as fresh, which he theorized was due to the speed at which they were frozen. He wondered if this flash-freezing method could be applied to other foods as well.

In 1930, the Birds Eye Frosted Food Company launched its first line of frozen foods, advertising their June peas "as gloriously green as any you will see next summer." (Golly, don't you just love that slogan?!)

During World War II, canned goods were shipped overseas for the troops, and Americans were encouraged to buy frozen foods. The first home freezers appeared during the 1940s, but they did not go into mass production until after World War II. Here we are, nearly a century later, and I have three freezers in my home, which are my most important preserving tools!

In 1930, the Birds Eye Frosted Food Company began advertising frozen foods, like these green peas.

The Science of Freezing Fruits & Vegetables

To freeze food properly, you don't need to understand all the scientific details of how things freeze and the consequences of that process, but there are a few principles that are worth knowing. First, when fruits and vegetables are frozen, the water in their cells turns to ice, expanding and rupturing the cell walls and releasing the liquid inside once they are thawed. This is why frozen foods typically become softer when thawed.

Second, because fruits and veggies are largely made of water, how quickly they freeze becomes important. In the Handbook of Frozen Food Processing and Packaging, editor Da-Wen Sun explains that when water freezes, ice crystals are formed first, and then they increase in size. How large the ice crystals become is determined by the rate at which the object is frozen. Fast freezing will create a larger quantity of small crystals, which are less likely to rupture the cells. Slow freezing creates big crystals that rupture a lot of cell walls and leave your produce mushy once thawed. Freezing fast = good.

Here are some things you can do to encourage rapid freezing.

  • Use a dedicated freezer set to 0°F (–18°C) instead of the freezer attached to your refrigerator, which isn't quite as cold.
  • Make sure that produce is cooled before putting it in the freezer. Many cooked foods can be prechilled overnight in the refrigerator before freezing.
  • Don't overload the freezer by filling it with too many unfrozen items all at once. If freezing a large quantity of items, spread them out inside the freezer instead of piling them on or near each other.

Blanching vegetables before freezing helps retain their quality.

How Long Does Frozen Food Last?

Under ideal conditions, cooked or blanched vegetables will keep for 1 year, and vegetables that were frozen raw will keep for 6 months. The extra longevity is why I almost always blanch my vegetables before freezing. Fruits will easily last a year.

Food kept frozen below 0°F (–18°C) will be safe to eat indefinitely. The question of "how long food lasts" is only a matter of quality, and it depends on factors such as the condition of the food when it was frozen, how it was prepared, what type of container it was frozen in, and the temperature of the freezer.

I try to freeze enough produce to last 1 year's time plus a little extra. Nutrients will slowly degrade over time, even when perfect freezing conditions are met, so keeping produce for more than a year isn't ideal.

Essential Freezing Techniques

Successful freezing is all in the details! While freezing is certainly not difficult, mastering these techniques will ensure that your frozen produce turns out exceptional. Everything from choosing the right type of freezer container to selecting the right blanching method and even thawing your food properly will impact its quality.


If the produce is dirty, wash and scrub it until clean before freezing. If the produce is not obviously dirty, it's up to you whether or not to wash it.

All produce should go into the freezer as dry as possible. Because fruit won't be blanched, washing and drying it is a time-consuming extra step. If we grew the fruit ourselves and picked it with clean hands into clean buckets, I don't wash it unless it has visible dirt. If the vegetables will be blanched, I typically give them a quick rinse first, as rinsing doesn't take much time and they're going to get wet anyway.


All fruits and vegetables contain enzymes that cause them to deteriorate over time. Freezing slows this enzymatic activity but does not stop it completely. The higher acidity of fruit naturally neutralizes the enzymes, but most vegetables need to be heated briefly (blanched) to deactivate these enzymes. Blanching is typically done by quickly steaming vegetables or submerging them in boiling water, then cooling them rapidly to stop the cooking. Not only will blanched vegetables have better color and flavor, but they also retain more nutrients over time than raw.

There is no one-size-fits-all blanching protocol. Each vegetable should be treated differently based on its individual characteristics—some do better with steam, for instance, and some with boiling water. In this book, blanching methods and times, as well as whether or not to use an ice bath, are listed for each vegetable and are based on the vegetable's size, density, and amount of exposed surface area.

Trim and cut veggies before blanching. For example, green bean stems should be snapped off and broccoli should be broken into florets.

Food Quality Matters

Only freeze the highest-quality fruits and vegetables. If something's mushy, rotten, or moldy, it isn't going to improve in the freezer. Rule of thumb: If you wouldn't eat it fresh, don't freeze it.

Produce starts to lose nutrients soon after it is picked, so get processing as quickly as possible while produce is at its peak! While freezing is sometimes a last-ditch effort (ever throw brown bananas into the freezer?), I try to freeze produce before it starts going downhill if I know we won't be able to eat it in time.

Steam Blanching

  1. 1. Prepare the steamer. Place a steamer insert in a pot, then fill with enough water to cover the bottom of the pot but not so much that the water touches the steamer insert. A pot that comes with a fitted steamer insert works best, but you can also use a steamer basket that sits loosely in the pot. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil over medium heat.
  2. 2. Prepare an ice bath, if indicated. Fill a large bowl with approximately equal parts ice and water. If you don't have ice readily available, you can use very cold tap water, although it will need to be replaced between each batch. Vegetables that are chopped into small pieces or are prone to becoming waterlogged may not need an ice bath.
  3. 3. Add the vegetables to the steamer. When the pot is filled with steam, place the prepared vegetables into the steamer insert. Don't overcrowd the pot—about half full is a good amount. Replace the lid.
  4. 4. Start the timer.


  • “A clear, concise guide to freezing (almost) anything with mouthwatering recipes that will ensure you put your frozen bounty to good use. If you’re looking to create a healthier home food supply and save money in the process, this is your book!” ​
    —Jill Winger, author of The Prairie Homestead Cookbook 

    “Invaluable information about the art of freezing— a must-have homesteading resource!” ​
    —Deanna Talerico, creator of Homestead and Chill 

    “So many possibilities! You’ll welcome the recipes for foods such as potatoes and squash that can be tricky to preserve with other methods. And who knew you could freeze cucumbers?” ​
    —Sherri Brooks Vinton, author of Put ’em Up! and The Preserving Answer Book 

    “This friendly, in-depth guide is packed with helpful info, unique recipes, and stunning photos to help you turn your freezer into a well-stocked pantry.” ​
    —Stephanie Thurow, Certified Master Food Preserver and author of Can It Ferment It

On Sale
Jul 5, 2022
Page Count
208 pages

Crystal Schmidt

Crystal Schmidt

About the Author

Crystal Schmidt is the creator of Whole‑Fed Homestead ( and the author of the bestselling book Freeze Fresh. She is devoted to sharing the skills of growing, preserving, and cooking with whole foods with her many followers online (110k on Instagram). She lives in Wisconsin.

Learn more about this author