It’s my 100th post! That went by way too fast! Also, to my readers.. So sorry for the lack of updates these past few weeks. This past week in particular, was well… full of life’s unexpected moments. Praise the Lord for family and friends Anyway’s, back to preserving!
Have you ever frozen any vegetables and pulled them out 3 months later to find that they look horrible and quite honestly taste like cardboard? This is the work of enzymes and why it is so important to blanch (boil quickly) before freezing them. After so much labor in the garden, it’s well worth the few extra minutes in the kitchen to blanch your veggies for the long winter ahead of us.
Vegetables, as they come from the garden or your farmers market, have enzymes working in them. These break down vitamin C in a short time and convert sugar into starch. By freezing your vegetables they only slow down the process, however, they are stopped by the blanching process. By blanching you will preserve your vegetables taste, texture, color, and nutrients.
Steps to Follow for Freezing Vegetables
- Pick young, tender vegetables for freezer storage. Avoid bruised, damaged, or overripe vegetables.
- Line up everything you will need for blanching and freezing before you start. Time and speed is of the essence when holding on to freshness, taste and nutrients.
What you will need:
- Large pot with boiling water
- Large bowl with ice water or placed underneath running cold water
- Towels to dry vegetables
- ziplock freezer bags or other suitable freezer containers
- Vegetables should be cleaned, cut and then blanched. As a general rule, use at least a gallon of water to each pound of vegetable, preheated to boiling point in a covered pot. When you plunge your vegetables into the boiling water, start timing when the water returns to a boil.
- Cool quickly to stop the cooking process. Veggies that are not cooled quickly are overblanched and show a loss of color, taste, texture and nutrients. Plunge your blanched vegetables immediately into cold water, ice water, or cold running water.
- Towel dry and package at once in freezer bags or suitable containers.
So, what can I blanch and how long does it take?
Select small artichokes or artichoke hearts. Cut off the top of the bud and trim the thorny end down to a cone. Wash and blanch for 8 minutes.
Wash, cut and blanch for 4 minutes.
Wash, snip ends, cut and blanch for 3 minutes.
Wash and blanch for 2 minutes. Drain and shell. Rinse shelled beans in cold water before freezing.
Rinse, peel and trim. Blanch in boiling water for 2-4 minutes. (If there is a chance that the tiny green cabbage worm has invaded the buds, soak in cold salt water for 10 -15 minutes. Rinse well and pick over. Rinse, peel, trim and blanch.)
Pick only green buds. Rinse and trim, cutting off outer leaves. Blanch in boiling water for 4 minutes.
Trim off outer leaves. Shred for tight packing of cut into wedges. Blanch shredded cabbage for 1 1/2 minutes. Blanch wedges in boiling water for 3 minutes.
Trim, wash, peel and blanch in boiling water for 2 – 3 minutes. (smaller pieces, 2 minutes; larger pieces, 3 minutes)
Wash and break into florets. Peel and split stems. Blanch in boiling water for 3 minutes. (If there is a chance that the tiny green cabbage worm has invaded the buds, soak in cold salt water for 10 -15 minutes. Rinse well and pick over. Rinse, peel, trim and blanch.)
Pick ears as soon as they ripen. Natural sugars in corn turn to starch quickly after ripening, so good timing is critical. To blanch whole ears of corn, blanch 3 at a time in boiling water for 6 – 8 minutes. Cool and pack seperately, or pack together enough for one meal. Ears can be wrapped in freezer paper, a double layer of aluminum foil, or in plastic freezer bags. If you are freezing cut corn, blanch with kernels on the cob first. Follow above blanching directions. Then cool and remove the kernels from the cob with a sharp knife or corn cutter.
Clean leaves and blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes. Cool and chop, if dersired, before freezing.
Kohlrabi and Rutabagas
Wash and trim off trunk. Peel and slice or dice into 1/2 inch pieces or smaller. Blanch in boiling water for 3 minutes.
Leeks do not need to be blanched. Just slice and freeze!
Wash and cut off stems. Blanch in boiling water for 2 – 3 minutes.
Onions do not need to be blanched. Just peel, slice and freeze!
Choose smooth roots, woody roots should not be frozen. Remove tops, wash and peel. Cut into slices or chunks. Blanch in boiling water for 3 minutes.
For podded peas, pick when seeds become plump and pods are rounded. Shell but do not wash. Freeze the same day they are harvested, as sugar is rapidly lost at room temperature. Discard immature and tough peas. Sugar or snow peas can be harvested any time before the pods fill out. Blanch both types of peas in boiling water for 2 minutes.
Peppers do not need to be blanched. Just clean, slice and freeze!
Tomatoes do not need to be blanched. Freeze whole tomatoes on baking sheets and, when frozen, store them in plastic bags. The skins will peel off when they are defrosted!
Cut off tops, wash, peel and slice. Blanch in boiling water for 2 1/2 minutes.
Zuchinni and Summer Squash
Clean, Slice and blanch in boiling water for 3-4 minutes. You can also shred zuchinni or summer squash. If shredded, it does not need to be blanched.
So that’s my list so far of vegetables that can be blanched and frozen. If I’m missing anything, please let me know. Have you frozen anything this year? Isn’t it a great feeling to take out fresh, local veggies long after they’ve gone out of season! Always brings a smile to my face