We all know we should eat more vegetables and partake in the array of nutrients found therein, but it can be tricky to keep fresh veggies on hand. These vegetables freeze well so you can buy them fresh and stash them in your deep freezer for later.
You can’t just chuck the plastic bag of veggies from the store right into the freezer, however, so let’s take a look at how to prep them for the freezer first.
Blanching and Shocking Vegetables
Before putting your veggies in a plastic bag and throwing them in the freezer, it’s essential to understand the process of blanching and shocking first. By blanching and shocking your vegetables, you are partially cooking and then cooling them directly after.
Blanching helps your vegetables keep their color and crunch. Just follow these easy steps.
- Prepare and cut your vegetables to the desired bite-size pieces and set aside. Take a large pot, fill with water, and bring it to a boil. You’ll also need a large bowl filled with water and ice, and a large slotted spoon to transfer your veggies.
- Put your prepared veggies in the water and boil for approximately one or two minutes. Some vegetables need to boil for a bit longer. You want your vegetables to be tender but still have a little bit of a crunch. You can test their doneness by cooling one piece in the ice-cold water and trying it.
- Shock your veggies by quickly and carefully removing them from the boiling water and placing them into the ice-cold bowl of water to stop the cooking process. Keep the veggies in the cold water until they are completely cooled. Dry the blanched vegetables with some paper towels.
Time to Pack and Seal
For best results, pack your veggies so that moisture stays in your plastic bag, and air stays out. When air contacts what you are packing, it causes the flavor and color to change over time.
To ensure you are getting an air-tight package of goodness, use a vacuum sealer. A Food Saver or Ziploc Vacuum sealer removes air from a plastic container before sealing. This process allows for your veggies to stay fresh much longer.
Vegetables that Freeze Well and How you Can Use Them
As you’ve learned, many vegetables freeze well, as long as you blanch and shock them before doing so. Another critical note to factor in is about quality and freshness. Before Shocking your vegetables, always try your best to use the freshest produce.
If you’ve got a flourishing garden with too much broccoli, or carrots to eat, prepare and freeze some just hours after picking them.
Freezing asparagus is possible, although you won’t reach the same crisp texture as if you cooked it fresh. However, the flavor you love will keep well. So, if you plan to use it for a hot winter soup, freezing your asparagus is a great option. Before blanching your asparagus, make sure to wash, dry, and cut the white ends off.
Broccoli is an easy one to take care of. Make sure you pick the freshest broccoli from a farmer’s market or grocery store and follow the process from above. In the fall or winter seasons, make yourself a broccoli cheddar soup, or a chicken and broccoli casserole.
Brussel sprouts aren’t the most popular vegetable available, but some people do love them. Before blanching them, make sure to remove the outer leaves as there may be little insects hidden inside. Wash your sprouts, then blanch them. Small Brussel sprouts only take about two minutes, but larger ones may take an extra minute or so.
Much like asparagus, you can freeze onions to preserve the nutrients and flavor, but the texture will suffer. Use frozen onions for anything that requires them to be cooked like stews or soups. Don’t use frozen onions for salads or anything that calls for all fresh ingredients.
The best part about onions is you don’t have to blanch them. Dice them up before packing and sealing. Make multiple packages filled each with one cup of onions; that way, when you have a recipe that calls for a little amount, you don’t have to cry over a fresh onion.
Preparing corn before freezing can seem like a lengthy process, but there are a few tricks to save you time and clean up. After removing the husks, boil them for about four or five minutes and then transfer the corn to your ice-cold water.
Once the corn is completely cooled, use an electric knife to cut the kernels off with much ease, but watch out for your fingertips. Also, make sure to do so over a large cookie sheet, so the corn doesn’t get everywhere.
Spinach freezes great without blanching, but won’t last for months on end. Typically, you need to consume them within the next two months. The best way to use frozen spinach is for protein shakes, smoothies, or even a quick spinach and artichoke dip.
Much like spinach, your kale can freeze without blanching, especially if you are using baby kale. However, if you are using kale with thick stems, you will want to separate the leaves from the stems and blanch them separately. Blanch the leaves for about one minute, and blanch the stems for about two minutes.
Vegetables always taste best when freshly picked from your garden or purchased fresh from a farmer’s market. Sometimes our gardens yield too many veggies, but rather than viewing this as a problem, take advantage of freezing your vegetables and eat them at a later time.