Freezing Produce and Baked Goods/ Ice Cream Cake Vegan Vegetable Recipes

To wrap-up frozen foods,(pun intended), let’s talk about fruits, vegetables, and baked goods.
Fresh fruits and vegetables have enzymes which cause them to break down badly when frozen; most need to be cooked or at least blanched before freezing. [To blanch, take produce and plunge it into boiling water for a few minutes. Times for different fruits and vegetables can be found in canning books, cook books and online] Grapes and some berries can be frozen individually, but must be eaten frozen or, in the case of berries, folded into batter, as they will be quite soft when thawed. Soft fruits and berries can be macerated, that is, broken down by sprinkling with sugar and allowed to sit until they have release much of their juice. They can be then frozen without being cooked. As in all attempts to successfully freeze, as much air as possible must be removed.
Place firm fruit, cored and sliced in simple syrup, that is equal parts sugar and water boiled for 5 minutes, (or heavier syrup, 2-to1 ration of sugar to water), after it has cooled to ‘warm’. A little lemon juice can be added; vanilla extract rum or brandy can be substituted. Submerge all of the fruit. I seldom bother to try t freeze fruit, except when it comes to berries, then I use the syrup or macerating technique. Don’t even think about trying to freeze watermelon,(although I knew someone who used to dehydrate it).
We have a peach tree behind my garage. It has broken several times from the sheer weight of the fruit. A few years ago I trimmed off every branch under 3″ in diameter and every leaf I could find, hoping to put it out of its misery. It came back and flourished. We never spray it and it becomes buggy; my husband harvests most of the fruit, cutting away the bad parts… and I have wanted no part of it. This year I have quite a number of badly frozen bags of peaches taking up a great deal of space in my freezer. Never one to admit defeat, my husband has been trying his hand at eating the mushy fruit . He has finally deciding it is best in oatmeal. I cooked one package down and made glaze with honey for pork. My ex-daughter-in-law’s grand mother brought something akin to apple butter to me a few years ago and it was delicious. It was made with peaches and I think I may try to throw some of the bags of peaches into my slow-cooker and see what comes of it…then I may freeze it.
I have made apple pies and frozen them, both baked and unbaked. I was surprised that the baked ones actually were not soggy but the unbaked ones were after they came out of the oven. Freezing fruit is not for the fearless.
Fresh vegetables can suffer the same fate; they usually break down. It is best to at least lightly cook, or blanche these, as well. I personally have no success with freezing corn. I came up with a few recipes that are easy to make and freeze well; a few will be posted at the end.

Now on to baked goods. I like to have different kind of bread on hand. I pack two sandwiches a day in my husband’s lunch and there is no excuse for bad lunches… (I will have a post on lunches in the future). Breads, rolls, flavors and textures make a big difference between choking down food and being nourished in body and soul. Food should give you energy in body and in mind, so I buy different types of rolls, (Kaiser, or sourdough; hamburger or wheat; potato or hoagie) and freeze some of them, so there is a rotation .I wrap the rolls in ones or twos in plastic wrap, and then pop them into a zip-close bag, squeezing all the air I can out; I do the same the same with Italian or French breads, or rye and pumpernickel. I find that slice breads to not work as well; too much surface is exposed to air no matter how well it is wrapped.
I freeze cakes the same way, usually un-iced, ready to be turned into dessert when the weather is too hot to bake, time gets away or I have unexpected guests. Mini cakes, cookies, (iced or not), I layer in plastic wrap; seal as tightly as I can and put into freezer bags. I have a couple of types of cookies and about three types of mini-muffins in the freezer right now… (Gee, I better eat them since ‘baking season’ is almost upon us again… I guess I didn’t have much company this summer to use them up.) I had to scramble for a cake this summer, though. My husband’s birthday is at the end of July and his favorite dessert is my ice cream cake, but the granddaughters ate the cakes I had ready and frozen. At the last minute I spotted a perfectly nice Pepperidge Farm coconut cake in my freezer and used that .It worked. [Directions below.]
Remember, air is the enemy of frozen foods
I do, at times, use my vacuum sealer for baked goods, but there are drawbacks. The bags are stiff and there can be a lot of air left around the goods, or conversely, if you really suck the air out from around your baked goods, they can be easily crushed and that is not good. If you have the time, you can place your baked goods in the freezer, unwrapped or lightly wrapped and as soon as they are relatively hard, vacuum seal them. However, if you have a million things on your mind and people in and out of your house like I do, you’ll end up leaving them there too long and they will freezer burn. That, too, is not good, trust me.
Pie and pastry crusts freeze well, and should be thawed slowly in the refrigerator.
Most cookie dough freezes well; cake batter would not. I know people who risk yeast-rising dough, but I have not. Buttercream icing freezes well, but sticky icings do not. Whipped cream freezes well but only if it is kept frozen as in an ice cream cake. Droplets, small dollops or piped rosettes of whipped cream can be frozen, (on a tray, then placed in a zip-bag as soon as they are solid solid), can be placed on top of hot cocoa, coffee drinks or on desserts immediately before serving. Dairy products and sauces made with them often break down and do not freeze well. Neither do non-dairy milks, such as rice, soy and almond. Cream cheese and also, hard cheeses freeze well, but some tend to get crumbly. Sliced cheeses want to stick together upon thawing. Shredded cheeses are good in the freezer. If thawed slowly in the refrigerator, they should stand up nicely. Shredded mozzarella over lasagna or stuffed shells, shredded cheddar in layered casseroles or cheeses made into sauces are good uses for frozen cheese.
Now, try your hand at these:

Ice Cream Cake

One cake, any flavor, any shape {I usually make a deep one-layer cake and split it, as in
Easter Egg-shape, or I have a Lamb mold I also use for Easter; or other
times I use two
thinner layers. I usually make a citrus flavor “Fiore di Sicilia”, light spice or
Chocolate
Ice cream {any flavor; I usually use vanilla
Whipped cream, lightly sweetened

Make cake, (or buy cake), split in two.
Slightly soften the ice cream. Cut it and place a thick layer between cake layers, leaving a short margin before the edge. (If the ice cream is too soft, freeze the cake at this point). Prepare whipped cream and thickly cover all the surfaces of the cake, filling into meet the ice cream inside; it can be piped on if you are familiar with the technique. (In the case of the Pep.Farm coconut cake, I only iced the sides where the cake was split to fill in to the ice cream.) Freeze unwrapped just until hard. Cover tightly with foil and if possible, place in freezer bag.
One New Year’s Eve I made individual cakes by pre-slicing a sheet cake and layering ice cream and cake; I iced them completely with whipped cream and threw candy confetti on them before the whipped cream froze. You can decorate the cake in that manner, (with jimmies or decors, edible glitter, candies, etc), before the whipped cream is set hard, or pipe edging with more whipped cream. Use standard icing or decorator tubes to write on the cake AFTER it is frozen. Do not use the gel type; it may run on the whipped cream.

Fresh Carrots and Chinese Pea Pods, or Italian Flat Beans (Vegan)

Place one package of each vegetable in a strainer or colander over salted, boiling water.
Sprinkle with no-salt herb blend (optional)
Cover, cook until slightly softened. Remove from heat, cool. Freeze in freezer bag.

Carrots in Glaze (With Vegan options)

One cup + of sliced carrots or (more) of baby carrots .Boil in salted water until tender,
Or use canned sliced carrots. Reserve.

Sauce

1 Tbsp. butter (or margarine)
½ cup orange juice or preferably, 2 Tbsp. orange juice concentrate and ½ cup of water
2 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. ground Ginger
¼ tsp. nutmeg
1 Tbsp. Brandy, (optional)
1 Tbsp.corn starch mixed in 2 Tbsp. water

Melt the butter; add the orange juice or concentrate and water. When warm, add the honey and spices, plus brandy, (if using).
Simmer for 10 minutes, add the corn starch mixture and stir constantly until the mixture is thick. Add carrots and stir to coat. Remove from heat but allow the carrots to remain in the warm glaze until all are cool. Seal in container or bag and freeze.

Vegan: Omit honey and use 1 Tbsp. sugar, corn syrup or other sweetener

Baked Autumn Vegetables en Croute (in crust) (With Vegan options)

Vegetables: One large sweet potato
Two large parsnips
One large turnip
Two large carrots or 1 cup of baby carrots
Boil individually until barely tender; peel and slice into short, thick strips.

Glaze:
¼ cup butter
2 Tbsp. Honey
dash of salt
1tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Vegan: omit butter and honey; use margarine and sweetener of choice.

In a saucepan, melt the butter with honey; add salt and ginger, plus vanilla extract. Pour over the vegetables, toss them to cover. You can bake these as they are and freeze them to serve them alone or to fill pastry with them later. You can also place them in the pastry, bake it and freeze it, ready-to-go.

Rustic Pastry

1 cups of flour
6 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. cream
Egg wash (white of an egg, beaten with 1-2 tsp. water)

Mix all the four and butter, (in processor or with pastry cutter). Add the salt and cream. Knead into smooth dough and roll into a round-ish shape, keeping the pastry about ¼ inch thick. (It should not look perfect; it’s ‘rustic’. Brush the inside with the egg wash. Place glazed vegetables in the middle. Pull the sides up toward the middle, pinching in as needed. DO NOT TRY TO MAKE IT MEET IN THE MIDDLE. Press the ends down and around and press down on the top’ brush with more of the egg wash. Wrap well and freeze, or bake at 375F until the pastry is well-browned. Cool completely and wrap well, zipper-bag store and bake warm to serve.

Vegan: Substitute margarine for butter, 1-1/2 Tbsp Almond or Rice milk for cream.
Omit egg wash, use melted margarine.

Italian Baked vegetables (Vegan)

Three medium-large potatoes, baked or microwaved until barely tender (approx. 35 minutes @400F in oven or approx 3 minutes on high in microwave)

Two bell peppers, seeded, cored and cut into eighths

Two large onions, cut into eighths

3-4 med-to-lg tomatoes, seeded and drained and quartered,
6 halved Roma tomatoes, seeded or approx 6-8 canned tomatoes, drained and halved

3/4 cup olive oil,(regular or Extra Virgin)

Salt and pepper, preferably coarse ground

Place vegetables alternately in a large, flat baking dish,(pie plate may do; do not crowd them).
Pour oil over all surfaces of the vegetables; sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bake in a hot oven,(400F), basting occasionally, (spoon the oil over the vegetables), for about 40 minutes or until the vegetables are very well done. Serve as a side dish; the remaining flavored oil can be used as a dipping oil for crusty bread, or reserved in the refrigerator to use over wilted greens, (gently pan-sautéed lettuces, or spinach), as salad dressing , or a dressing over baked or boiled, cubed potatoes. These freeze cooled and well-wrapped. Heat and serve.

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