Freezing:  preserving the harvest

courtesy of Colleen Joice, P.Dt

Colleen has provided back-to-back blog posts about preserving vegetables and fruits.  Last week in our blog Colleen outlined the canning process as an option for preserving.  Please click here to read the post Canning:  preserving the harvest.

Many Nova Scotians prefer freezing as an option to canning. Freezing is quick and easy and does not require a lot of specialized equipment, so if you have a freezer or even space enough for a few bags of vegetable or fruit, then freezing may be the option that you would like to consider for putting away a bountiful harvest.  Most crops, such as asparagus, broccoli, green beans, peppers, summer squash, dark leafy greens and all types of juicy berries will be preserved very well by freezing. Putting a few bags of various vegetables and fruits away as the season changes from one crop to another, is an easy and less work intensive way of savouring our harvest into the winter months.


Home Freezing Nova Scotia Vegetables


Vegetables will be of optimum quality if frozen when they are in season. If possible they should be frozen the same day they are picked.  Vegetables that are frozen fresh will taste better, retain more nutrients and have a more desirable texture and colour.


Freezing equipment is not as specialized as canning equipment; in fact most of the equipment required for freezing is likely already in your kitchen!

Equipment for Freezing Vegetables:


  • ​Clean work surfaces and knives

  • Clean pot with lid for blanching                                     

  • Clean mesh basket or blanching basket                          

  • Clean towels or salad spinner

  • Basin or large mixing bowl with ice cubes                                               

  • Timer                                                                          

  • Freezer bags or freezer containers 

ONLY VEGETABLES need to be blanched.

When water blanching

  • The vegetables are heated for a short period of time first

  • The vegetables are then quickly cooled in cold water before freezing

A metal mesh basket or hard plastic strainer can be used as a blancher. A blancher is a special cooking pot with holes that can be placed in the pot of boiling water.


Water blanching is the most critical step of freezing and the step that is most often omitted, many home gardeners are interested in freezing vegetables from their garden but they are not aware of ‘blanching’. The quality of a frozen vegetable is significantly improved by taking the time to include this step.  Blanching slows down enzyme activity in the vegetables and helps maintain the colour, texture and flavour of the fresh vegetables. It is also important to realize that the heat in from the blanching water also helps to kill any outside bacteria that could be on the outside of the vegetable.



  • Each vegetable has its own water blanching time

  • It is important to blanch for the exact time

  • Start the blanching time when the water is boiling over the vegetable

Note:  It is necessary to change the blanching water for each vegetable batch that is blanched.


Blanching time for common Nova Scotia vegetables




Green or Yellow Beans                    


Brussels Sprouts                               


Corn (from the cob)                           

Greens (spinach, Swiss chard         




Freezing Nova Scotia Beans

Blanching Time

2-3 minutes 

3 minutes

4 minutes

4 minutes

3 minutes

4 minutes

2 minutes

2 minutes

Enjoy the goodness of Nova Scotia vegetables in soups, salads or as a side dish at mealtime!

Home freezing Nova Scotia Fruits


For most fruits freezing is the easiest and best method of preserving. Frozen fruits are tasty, juicy and nutritious.


Important: Remember that fruits do not need to be blanched!  


Generally, fruits are much more delicate than vegetables.  Blanching berries prior to freezing damages their cell walls, resulting in mushy fruits.


 Equipment for Freezing Fruits

  • Clean work surfaces and knives

  • Clean cookie sheet

  • Clean towels or salad spinner

  • Freezer containers or freezer bags


Dry Pack or Sugarless Freezing of Fruits

Dry pack is the simplest way to freeze whole or cut up firm fruits.


To Dry Pack:

  • Wash the fully ripe fruits

  • Drain and pat or spin dry                                                                    

  • Pack into containers

  • Seal and freeze


  Sometimes frozen berries will clump together, to keep frozen berries loose:

  • Spread the washed and dried fruit in a single layer on a large cookie tray (Step # 4 below)

  • Set the tray in the freezer and when the berries are frozen, pour them into a plastic freezer bag and seal.

Like vegetables, it is most economical to freeze fruits when they are in season.

  • Fruits should be frozen the same day they are picked. 

Freezing Nova Scotia Blueberries - The Dry Pack Method

Enjoy the goodness of Nova Scotia berries as a snack, in a smoothie, muffins, pancakes or parfait!

Learning  to freeze makes it easy to enjoy the freshness of our gardens all year round.  For more information and recipes refer to the following links:

Our blog this week is provided courtesy of Colleen Joice. Colleen is a Nutrition Consultant living in Nova Scotia.  Colleen received a Bachelor of Science with a Major in Dietetics from McDonald College of McGill University in 1974.  In 1996 she completed a postgraduate Certificate in Adult and Continuing Education from the University of Manitoba. She is currently a member of the Nova Scotia Dietetic Association.  


Colleen has done extensive recipe, cookbook and workshop development along with train the trainer facilitator guides for various programs including the projects Strive for Five and Goodness in Many Ways. She has lead many people through workshops to teach cooking skills and share her passion and knowledge for food and food culture.  Colleen also instructed in the School of Nutrition at Acadia University from 1997 through 2001.  


Colleen had the opportunity to live in Europe for many years.   This experience has fueled her passion and knowledge of food and food culture.  Participation in European food preparation classes has enhanced the value that she places on the availability, preparation, consumption and enjoyment of whole foods.  



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