Q My daughter has planted her first vegetable garden. Will it be hard for her to freeze the vegetables she harvests?
A: Freezing vegetables is simple as long as you remember a couple of things.
Many vegetables continue to ripen after they are picked. Enzymes in the vegetables continue ripening, converting the sugar into starch. If you just pick vegetables, cut them up and freeze them, they'll taste like cardboard within a couple of months.
To stop that, you need to heat them quickly and then stop the cooking quickly to set the color and texture.
The easy way to do that is blanching: Trim the vegetables as necessary, cutting away the core, and cut them into pieces that will be easy to use later.
Bring a pot of water to boil and have a bowl of ice water ready.
Drop the vegetables into the boiling water for a short time, remove them with a slotted spoon and immediately drop them into ice water.
Drain them and then package them in freezer-safe boxes or resealable freezer bags, pressing out as much air as possible. Label and freeze them.
The blanching time will vary according to the vegetable. It's generally short, ranging from 3 minutes for small pods of okra to 11 minutes for large ears of corn on the cob.
For a good list, go to the University of Georgia's National Center for Home Food Preservation, at www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/freeze/blanching.html.