Back to the future – cooking with frozen fruits and vegetables

Or maybe I should call this “confessions of a foodie-locavore-come-lately:” I haven’t cooked with frozen produce very much over the years.  Well, except for frozen peas, corn, and in recent years, edamame. Why cook with anything else frozen?  Whatever it is you feel like cooking this week, it’s all there in any mid-to-upscale grocery store all year round!  And then I discovered farmers markets.  I could write an Ode to Farmers Markets.  I was flabbergasted the first time a friend took me to a *small* farmers market in Menlo Park, CA back in the early 90s.  I had never set eyes on a persimmon before, let alone tasted one, and lo and behold there were SEVEN varieties of persimmons heaped on the tables, and purple carrots, and striped beets, and all sorts of green things and root things that I could not even begin to identify.  OMG.  Oh gorgeous bounty. We cooked an enormous and sumptuous meal, all with ingredients from this little farmers market.

Well, here we are years later, and numerous eye-opening books about the industrialized food system later, and in snowy midwest Michigan…and guess what?  All summer & autumn we too can sing that same ode to gorgeous bounty, even at the *small* Ann Arbor Farmers Market – yellow raspberries, gooseberries, purple cauliflower and purple beans, kohlrabi, and multiple varieties of plums, peaches, apples, and fabulous green leafy things.  It’s truly amazing.  And the taste of this fresh produce is so phenomenal that I start SCOFFING at grocery store, genetically modified, shelf-stable, under-ripe and over-waxed produce.  You call that lettuce?  THAT is not a tomato.  I meet my husband’s challenge (multiple times) to blind taste test and pick which fruits come from the market vs. a store. HA! I TOLD YOU SO!

But then comes winter.

So here we are with Locavorious…an attempt to capture that wonderful Michigan farm fresh taste and keep if for ourselves to eat locavoriously in the winter.  2500 lbs of frozen fruits and veggies our first year.  That’s more than a ton a food we do not need to have shipped from China or South America or trucked from California this winter.  What should we cook first??  And how??  And how to keep it tasting great??  I’ve had to teach myself new ways to cook, so I’ve started keeping a list of recommendations, picked up from great cooks and old cookbooks and our farmers (thank you Deb Lenz & Lynn Meissner!)  Anyone else have tips to share?  This winter I’ll continue to update the Tips & Tricks page.  The best rules of thumb for veggies: 1) cook them directly from their frozen state, i.e. do not thaw them first, and 2) cook them 1/3rd to ½ as long as you would cook a fresh colander full. The best rule of thumb for frozen berries: just eat them, frozen or slightly thawed.
Bring on the winter.

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One response to “Back to the future – cooking with frozen fruits and vegetables

  1. Hi Rena! Great blog…I will add you to my reading list. Glad you could join the Michigan Lady Food Bloggers Group!

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