BY KIM HUGHES –
Hearty vegetables from fall and winter gardens can’t all be canned. You can still preserve some of these nutritious veggies though, by freezing them. Before putting fresh veggies into a freezer, be sure you blanch them. Blanching (scalding vegetables in boiling water or steam for a short time) is a must for almost all vegetables to be frozen. It stops enzyme actions, which can cause loss of flavor, color and texture. Blanching cleanses the surface of dirt and organisms, brightens the color and helps retard loss of vitamins. It also wilts or softens vegetables and makes them easier to pack. Blanching time is crucial and varies with the vegetable and size. Under blanching stimulates the activity of enzymes and is worse than no blanching. Over-blanching causes loss of flavor, color, vitamins and minerals. Blanching method and time will vary based on type of vegetable.
You could pickle Brussels sprouts, or if you want to taste them as is, try freezing Brussels sprouts.
Carrots may be canned, pickled, or frozen to produce high-quality final products.
You can also choose to can cubed winter squash or pumpkin, but if you want to preserve it mashed or as a puree, your only option is to freeze it. Directions for freezing pumpkin are only a little bit different from freezing winter squash.
We also do not have recommendations for canning eggplant, but it is simple to freeze eggplant.
Vegetables are low acid foods and when canning, must be processed in a pressure canner, not a pressure cooker. The exception would be when you pickle vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts or cucumbers. They have added vinegar and become a high acid food and can be safely preserved in a water bath canner.
For more information on preserving food (canning, freezing and dehydrating) contact your local County Agent at 479-394-6018 or come by the Extension Office at 211 DeQueen Street in Mena. Reliable online information can be found at: http://preservingfoodathome.com/