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Cheap Vegan - stocking up for the winter (zucchinis, eggplants/aubergines and squahes, oh my) [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
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stocking up for the winter (zucchinis, eggplants/aubergines and squahes, oh my) [Oct. 16th, 2011|08:12 pm]
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[coldagain]
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I want to be more prepared for this coming winter than last year (when I ended up eating potatoes, beets, cabbage and beets as the only vegetables available on the somewhat-farmers market) so I've decided to stock up the freezer with some cheap-ish seasonal veggies. My problem: I'm not sure how well these freeze, or what can be done with them when thawed.

First up, zucchinis: I've been pealing and dicing then bagging them, to cook into all kinds of stew or stir-fry like foods. I have a suspicion they'll turn out pretty mush-like, so I haven't shredded more than bag so far. Any ideas about other freezing methods, or what to do with them once thawed?

Next, eggplants/aubergines (we only get the dark purple kind, though I happened on a white one this year and loved its taste, but couldn't find more): can they be frozen, or rather, what will they be like thawed? What else could I do with them? (I made my first ever batch of baba ghanoush from a kilo of eggplants today and it came up alright, but I don't think it'd be good for more than a week in the fridge.) I could bake them/cook them, if that's a better way to freeze them? ...You notice I don't have much idea about what to do with eggplants; stuffing and/or baking them with sliced or diced tomatoes is the most I've done so far. Any help very much appreciated!

And lastly, I like squashes, but they always seem a whole lot of bother -- they have to be pealed, cooked for a while, then one can eat them or use them for making other stuff -- as the ones around here aren't uniformly sweet, so some turn out not so good (expl: I don't add sugar/sweetener to anything unless I absolutely have to, not that my blood sugar appreciates it). Anyways, they're bound to be affordable sometime soon, but I don't know how best to freeze them or use them, really. The market also has pumpkins with light skin and flesh as orange as the squashes, but it doesn't taste as good/needs way more cooking/baking time to not taste raw? Any advice on best ways to use and store/freeze either or both would be greatly appreciated!

We've already baked and pealed large red peppers for freezing, the tomatoes are rapidly going out of season though I'm not a fan of freezing them in the first place, and I can't think of any other veggies to stock up on (other than cabbage and potatoes, but these are also available in the market even in the middle of winter) but if you can I'd love to hear about them. (Note: I'm not a fan of canning as my stomach rebels at vinegar-y foods; I love pickles but I haven't dared touch them all year despite having brought a jar of them, they mess my stomach up something fierce. Anyways, this is why freezing is my go-to method of stocking up.)
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[User Picture]From: beadylady
2011-10-16 07:22 pm (UTC)

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I can't comment a lot on just preparing the veggies and then freezing them. We tend to make up little batches of soups or stews that can be microwaved later. I think I've heard that flash-freezing is the best way to do some of this. Have you a copy of The Joy of Cooking or Putting Food By? I think both of them have some great advice.

Good luck!
[User Picture]From: conscience
2011-10-17 12:28 am (UTC)

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This...freeze half of what you make as a meal, and you have ready-made, long preserved food through winter. Just make sure to mark what it is, and the date frozen...
[User Picture]From: coldagain
2011-10-17 08:40 am (UTC)

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I don't have a microwave and have gotten tired of thawed meals in my uni days when that was a whole food group, but it's still good advice so I'll rethink things.

Oh, I do have a copy of 'Joy of Cooking - All About Vegetarian Cooking' which I've only glanced through so far, I'll give it a good read. Thanks for the tip!
[User Picture]From: kokoronagomu
2011-10-16 07:36 pm (UTC)

google is a wonderful tool

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[User Picture]From: coldagain
2011-10-17 08:50 am (UTC)

Re: google is a wonderful tool

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That looks like a great page, thank you! Though it does seem overly fond of blanching everything...
[User Picture]From: kokoronagomu
2011-10-17 10:14 am (UTC)

Re: google is a wonderful tool

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i noticed that too -- i know you don't have to blanch tomatoes, peppers, onions... i think you don't have to blanch a few others but it's been a long time since i've helped my mother freeze and can things.
[User Picture]From: dodecahedron
2011-10-16 09:24 pm (UTC)

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Not 100% on topic, but I've found this website really helpful in food storage techniques. It's made a real difference in how long I've been able to have my food last:

http://www.stilltasty.com/
[User Picture]From: coldagain
2011-10-17 08:52 am (UTC)

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That looks like a great site, thank you!
[User Picture]From: veganjill
2011-10-16 10:58 pm (UTC)

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Not all canning requires vinegar. Sugar also acts as a preservate. However, if you have a pressure cooker, the point is completely mute. Pickling is the only canning method i know that actually adds acid.
[User Picture]From: coldagain
2011-10-17 08:47 am (UTC)

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All the canning methods, or rather, putting food away in jars methods I know involve either sugar, vinegar, lots of salt, or a preservative (which tends to come in prepacked with one or more of the former) which is why I'm not a fan; I can't stomach vinegar, don't add sugar unless absolutely necessary and always in minimal amounts, don't use salt (I have soy sauce which is salty, plus every store-bought savory food is plenty salty these days) and don't want to start using preservatives when everything I buy is packed with them, anyway.

I'm not sure how pressure cooking would help preserve things? I can kind of understand the principle of cooking a good veggie stew in it, then putting it in a clear jar, sealing the jar by bringing the stew in it to a boiling point, but I do now that in practice without any preservatives it wouldn't keep nearly as well as it seems it would? Or am I missing something?
[User Picture]From: veganjill
2011-10-17 11:03 pm (UTC)

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I should have said pressure canner (which is similar to a pressure cooker). Actually, it is the canning itself that preserves, not the sterilization method. Acidic and sugary foods as less hospitable to bacteria, so can be processed at a boil. Low acid foods need high temps above a boil, so that is were the pressure cooker/canner comes in. Most canning recipes include salt only for flavor, so it can be lowered or omitted. Pretty much only things like pickles require salt, and that is only for drawing out the moisture. This gives some basic info on pressure canning here are some basic recipes and here is some info on salt and sugar free canning.