Sealing in Summer

Despite my crushing love for good food and an ongoing affair with Williams-Sonoma, I’m actually not much of a kitchen gadget fan. I’m a firm believer in getting the best kitchen basics you can afford and using them to death. Why do I need an asparagus stripper thing when I have a perfectly good, sharp knife? Or a flour sifter when a basic strainer does the same job? On the other hand, there is a time and a place for certain gadgets and appliances.

While I use my stand mixer quite frequently, I only succumbed to the magical powers of the food processor about 2 years ago. And in thinking about the summer bounty of local foods coming our way, I have to sing the praises of another recent acquisition: the vacuum sealer. I haven’t made the step to canning. But I’ve been creeping up on freezing. And that darned vacuum sealer has been such a great investment – I buy the bags on a roll so I can make them any size I’d like. No more freezer burn. The bags lend themselves to the efficient flat-as-a-pancake freezing technique. Best of all, I get to enjoy a little bit of summer throughout those long, cold winter months inevitably heading our way. This year I’m going to do it up right. I’ve been cleaning out my freezer of bagged veggies that I bought at the store to be replaced with the market-fresh local goodies.

There is nothing better than whipping together a quick pasta sauce using tomatoes from my mom’s garden ... in the middle of January. Or adding sweet summer corn kernels into my infamous beef stew, anytime. It takes very little effort to figure out how to best freeze berries, peas, corn, tomatoes and whatever else you may have at hand (or is overflowing out of your CSA share). Peas? Shell them, freeze on a sheet tray first and into the vacuum bag they go. Tomatoes? A quick swim in boiling water to remove the skins, a whirl in the food processor and then into another vacuum bag. Basil taking over? Pesto (sans cheese) freezes like a charm. Corn ridiculously cheap at the market? Blanch, shock, slice off the kernels and seal ‘em up. The possibilities are endless. And my mouth is watering.

Tracy Morgan is a Twin Cities foodie and the owner of Segnavia Creative, a marketing services consulting company located in St. Paul, MN.