The Fall season is a good time to stock up on freezable produce. some of the Fall produce that you will find inside WA state grocery stores include squash, potato, eggplant, artichokes, broccoli, persimmons, apples, cranberries, figs, and grapes; they are all easy to freeze and inexpensive when purchased during their peak season time. Cut them up and place in gallon sized freezer bags. Artichokes need to be steamed before frozen and it is a good idea to peel the potatoes before they go in as well. the other items can typically be frozen without blanching but will depend on how you plant to cook with them.
Potatoes: Not only are they less expensive during the Fall season but there are also more varieties to choose from. Potato is lower in calories and higher in fiber making it a great dinner or breakfast choice. Scrub well, poke holes into it with a fork and pop it into the microwave for several minutes and then cut open and top with Greek yogurt, beans, chives , pink salt and a little shredded cheddar cheese.
Eggplant: You can get this deep purple spongy vegetable for $1 each during a good sale. Safeway and Fredmeyer have them 10 for $10 all the time. for best results you should grill eggplant before freezing to help prevent it from being mushy once thawed. turn your broiler on, cut eggplant lengthwise and place on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle sea salt or pink salt on top and then Italian cheese and broil.
Artichokes: These are bit on the spendy side but there is no substitution for them, they just have a unique taste that cannot be beat. Blanch artichokes before freezing and for faster preparation complete the process of getting to the hearts before putting them into the freezer. Throw a package of fresh basil, fresh artichoke hearts, olive oil, sun dried tomato and your favorite Italian cheese and blend well; this makes a delicious party dip.
Squash: A Fall staple, squash is at nearly every grocery store right now but it’s not always on sale nor is it always inexpensive. It definitely matters which variety you choose and when you plan to purchase it. For best price wait until a store has a sale or go directly to a farm store where they typically charge less than store price as a way to complete with surrounding stores. Chop squash into chunks or boil it down to a puree and then freeze, either way freezes well. Stir fry squash with salt and pepper in olive oil for a tasty afternoon snack.
Broccoli: You can get broccoli for as low as .79 cents a pound during a good sale and once in a while you can get it at Chuck’s Produce for even lower. This is a vegetable that freezes quite well and comes out nearly the same as it did going into the freezer. Broccoli is delicious is soup or steamed with a little salt. It is also a favorite in our family and we serve it with T-Bone steak once a month when I get the steak on mark down.
Persimmons: They are just now coming into season here in Washington and are currently on sale at Gateway Produce 3 for $1, which is an excellent price for these. They give a great boost to shakes but I like to slice them and eat them raw. If you freeze them you have two choices; you can toss them in whole or cute them up into chunks. They will come out a different consistency so once frozen they will typically be used for shakes or desserts.
Apples: In Washington state you can get apples for around .19 cents a pound, sometimes you can even find them lower than that. You can blanch apples and then freeze immediately but it is not necessary. Cut an apple lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and steam, poke with a knife or form and put in the microwave for 2 minutes. Sprinkle with sugar or honey and cinnamon for a delicious healthy treat.
Cranberries: It is best to go directly to a farm to get cranberries if you can but if you can’t you just need to pick a time when a store is having a sale on them. You will find fresh Ocean Spray cranberries 2 for $5 at Safeway and there are coupons all the time, especially around Thanksgiving and Christmas but cranberries aren’t just for these holidays, they are really good added to nutritional shakes and even desserts or salads.
Figs: These are just ending here in Washington, or at least I am not finding them as often in the stores as I did. Figs can get expensive, especially if you are buying organic but if you wait for a good sale you will find them 2 for $5 ( they come in a plastic container, fresh). I eat them whole with a little honey or add them to dessert bread right before baking.
Grapes: You can get them for .99 cents a pound at Safeway and once in a while you will find a 5 lb container at Grocery Outlet for $3.99! Grapes freeze well but do change consistency after they thaw out, as do most fruits that are higher in water. Again, these are good for desserts, pureeing or shakes.