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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Bulk freezing of Onions, Celery and other aromatics

 You want a great soup, stew, dinner and you want it quick. If you keep fresh celery and onions always on hand you know you throw most of them away. Their shelf life is limited as they get rusty and limp. Also, who wants to cry every time you make a stew?  If you start your stew, like I do,  in the crock pot in the morning - you don't want to go to work smelling of chopped onions. That's a good way to spend the morning alone.  So here's a solution: your freezer! I chop and freeze 5 to 10 lbs  of onions at a time, less of celery and peppers. One gallon freezer bag will hold 5 lbs. It's easy and will take under 30 minutes to prepare and chop large aromatics like celery and onions, 5 minutes to wash and freeze leafy herbs. The key to this is the oil, it keeps the vegetables from clumping and seals them from freezer burn and taste change.

Having these aromatics on hand at easy reach will change the way you make dinner and save you time and frustration.

Drizzle oil over the top 
I keep bags of chopped celery, peppers, onions, Parsley, Thyme, Basel, and Sage frozen in my freezer. They will keep for 3 to 6 months and are a real timesaver not to mention they taste like fresh. What you need beside your freezer:
Freezer bags ( either Glad® or Ziploc® they have the best seal)
Pompeian Extra virgin olive oil (If you like the buttery taste of olive oil use the dark green oil, if not use the light oil)
Large jellyroll pan or cookie sheet with sides

break up Onions and store in bag
Next step: Onions, Peppers, Celery
Coat the bottom of the pan with a generous amount of oil
Place onions in cold cold water to clean and peal. The cold water will revive the freshness of the onion.
Chop the onions and place on cookie sheet or jellyroll pan.
When all the Onions are chopped, drizzle oil over the top and place the pan in the freezer to freeze overnight. Next day break up and place in freezer bags. That's it.
Follow the same procedure for peppers and celery
The oil will prevent freezing into lumps. To use simply measure and place in your dish.

Leafy herbs freeze as is - remove large stems when frozen
Parsley, Thyme, Basel, Sage or any leafy herb
The procedure is somewhat similar with the exception of the chopping.
Place in very cold water,
Coat the bottom of the pan with oil
take out of the water and pat dry then place on the pan one layer deep.
Do Not add more oil.
Set in freezer overnight
Next morning remove large stems from Thyme and Parsley,  place in freezer bags.
To use, crumble frozen herbs into stews and soups for a fresh herb taste.

Happy cooking

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