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Savor Deliciousness & Avoid Food Waste: Freezing Tips for Fruits & Veggies

Now’s the perfect time to savor the flavors of summer before it’s too late. The end of summer is always bittersweet for me – the promise of cooler weather, yet the end of the season for my favorite fruits and veggies.  There’s nothing better than a juicy peach from Ham Orchards or a handful of plump East Texas Blueberries to make my heart sing.

Guests Enjoying our Farm to Table Buffet

If you have yet to savor our freshly prepared, Farm to Table dishes, you’re in for a treat. Our guests rave about our healthy and delicious meals, prepared with lots of love – from locally sourced produce and meat to homemade rosemary and garlic breads. Best of all, you don’t have to lift a finger. No chopping, no cooking, no cleaning up – just relaxing, chatting and enjoying the flavors. Hungry for homemade meals alongside yoga, laughter and wine? Book here.

Not only do we source ingredients locally, we are striving for ZERO food waste.

According to Feeding America, a non-profit organization dedicated to diverting food waste from the landfill to feed hungry families, our country’s food waste and hunger looks like this:

  • 25 to 40% of food goes into our landfills.
  • Rotting food contributes to methane (far worse than carbon dioxide in affecting global warming) in our atmosphere.
  • Food accounts for more waste in our landfills than any other waste product.
  • 1 in 7 Americans do not have enough to eat on a daily basis.
  • It’s 1 in 5 for children.
  • Children struggle with learning without enough food for energy.
  • Children who do not eat enough in the first three years, suffer delay of physical and mental development.

What can you do?

You can join me in supporting Feeding America, by making a donation (they are rated highly by Charity Navigator – 98% of the money that is donated goes to the cause of reducing hunger and food waste) or closer to home, donating to the North Texas Food Bank (94%).

You can also begin to reduce food waste at home using the following tips. By freezing, you have the opportunity to enjoy juicy goodness of summer fruits and veggie all year round.

Helpful Freezing Tips:

  • If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, it’s important to squeeze out all of the air before sealing the freezer bag.
  • Once frozen, you want to keep the bags in a place where ity won’t thaw out until you are ready to use.
  • I like to freeze things individually so I can quickly thaw out what I need. For most of these you can simply rinse, cut, and spread out on a cookie sheet to freeze individually. Once frozen, store in a freezer bag.
  • If you plan on using large quantities for sauces, stews, smoothies, etc., skip the instructions for freezing individually and simply toss in a freezer bag for quick freezing.

East Texas Blueberries

Berries – Individually frozen berries will hold their shape better and make it easy to grab a couple for smoothies or yogurt. I like to defrost for 30 seconds and enjoy with Greek Yogurt, granola, and cinnamon as my go-to when I need something quick and healthy.

Peaches/Nectarines/Plums – Enjoy frozen in a peach-fizz or white wine sangria, or heat them up and serve them with greek yogurt and cinnamon for a healthy dessert.

Watermelon – Instead of chopping, scoop out with an ice cream scoop. Enjoy in smoothies or, my favorite, Watermelon Mojitos.

Peppers and Onions –Perfect for those weeknight dinners when you just don’t have time to chop everything.

Potatoes – For fully cooked potatoes, simply chop and freeze them and add to another dish upon thawing –  a frittata, stew or soup. To freeze raw potatoes you must first blanch them.

Tomatoes – Freezing tomatoes can take a little work, but when you reach into your freezer for a bag of fresh tomatoes for spaghetti sauce or chili, you’ll still be able to taste the tomato flavor –  in my opinion, most store bought tomatoes never taste that good. First place the tomatoes in a large pot of boiling water for one minute, then put into ice water for the skins come off. Then cut the tomatoes in half and shake out the seeds. You can also drain the water from the tomatoes for a more intense tomato flavor.

Avocados – Wash and slice the avocado in two and remove seed. Peel and remove skin. You can tightly wrap each half in cling wrap and then place in a freezer bag or you can mash with a bit of lemon or lime juice and put in freezer bag. Most important is to make sure there are no pockets of air touching the avocado.

My favorite breakfast is our Everything but the Kitchen Sink Frittata. We use leftover vegetables (everything from bell peppers to tomatoes to asparagus – whatever we have on hand), add eggs, freshly ground chicken sausage and cream cheese and top it with the rest of the Tomato Feta Dip from Saturday snack. Not only is it fun to combine all of the different ingredients we have on hand (I’ve even added quinoa or black beans), it’s easy to make (you can even prepare it the night before and just pop it in the oven). As many as our guests will tell you, it’s one of their favorites too.

At Retreat in the Pines we are committed to reducing food waste however we can. This is what happens over a typical weekend retreat:

  • Leftovers from retreat – Kaycee & I take home any leftovers for our families (a great perk!).
  • Cooked food from the retreat (such as quinoa, chicken, beans, veggies) – we freeze to use in future soups, curry, etc.
  • Fresh vegetables – Kaycee cuts up and freezes in freezer bags for future use in meals.
  • Table scraps – goes into compost pile (Kaycee’s chickens get first pick).
  • Everything else, such as fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds, tea bags, paper napkins – all go into compost pile.

Won’t you join me in making a difference in what goes into our landfills? The effort is minimal, yet the rewards will impact our future generations.