Freezing is an effective and time-conserving method for making your cooking experience easier. It also allows for bulk shopping at the start of every month or week – depending on your household needs and setup. Moreover, you can save numerous trips to the store now and then. Freezing various vegetables allows storing in advance for when certain vegetables go out of season.
Why Would You Want to Freeze Vegetables?
So, should everybody freeze vegetables for the sake of storing them for a long time? It is not really straight away a yes or no answer. Some people hate running to the grocery store every once or twice a week and tend to buy in bulk. Other people prefer freezing vegetables as they work throughout the week and need to have neatly cut and washed veggies to cook quickly.
Similarly, there might be plenty of other reasons why people prefer freezing vegetables for long-term storage. Overall, storing vegetables in the freezer help conserve time and energy. You might be spending a lot of time one day of the week preparing to store veggies in the freezer, but the next coming days will be more relaxed and easier.
Five Things to Keep in Mind When Freezing Vegetables
If you want to freeze some vegetables that you got in bulk or before it went off-season, then remember the following five points for successful storage. The main aim and purpose for freezing vegetables become useless, no matter how convenient it is, if the vegetables lose their nutritional value or taste. Therefore, these five points are important for making your vegetable-freezing experience perfect.
Stop Enzymes Activity by Blanching
Enzymes are the natural compounds present in plants that are responsible for regulating the ripening process. To store the vegetables for a long time, it is pertinent that the ripening process is halted. Freezing them puts a stop to the enzyme activity. However, blanching vegetables is important before freezing.
Importance of Blanching the Veggies
- Blanching the vegetables is essential for locking down their nutrition value and taste.
- It helps lock the flavor of the veggies.
- It helps to pause the enzyme activity in the vegetables which also helps in halting the ripening process
- It is important for cleaning dirt and microorganisms from the surface of the vegetables
- It softens the vegetables which in turn helps tuck them away in the freezer
- Most of the vegetables are blanched with water. However, steam blanching is preferable for more delicate veggies.
While storing vegetables in the freezer, it is important to ensure that there is no air in the container or bag in which the vegetables are kept. The air in the food catalyzes the enzyme activity, which in turn results in the speedy ripening process. Moreover, if the air is not excluded from the container or storage bag, it might result in the browning of some veggies such as potatoes.
Do Not Store a lot
One thing essential for effective freezing of vegetables is to consider the space in your freezer. Stuffing your freezer with a lot of vegetables is only going to end up with bad or expired vegetables. Generally, if you store more than 2 pounds of food in your freezer per one square foot, it is going to clog the freezing capacity.
This will result in slowing down of the freezing process, and the food already stored in your freezer will also become warm and soft. So, do not endanger the quality of your frozen food by stuffing a lot.
Good Quality Packaging Materials
Always use a durable and high-quality packaging material for freezing food. Packages that do not close properly result in letting some moisture out. This ultimately dries up the food and thus compromises the color, quality, flavor, or even texture of the vegetables.
High temperatures are quite favorable for inviting various microorganisms to foods. Temperatures, especially between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, are regarded as the most favorable for bacterial infestation.
While freezing the vegetables helps to prevent harmful microorganisms from entering and stops their growth, thawing them again lets the door open for such organisms to enter. Therefore, it is advised that vegetables, once completely thawed, should not be frozen again.
How to Select the Packing Material for Freezing Vegetables
Keep the following points in mind when selecting packaging material for freezing vegetables.
- The material of the containers or bags should be highly resistant to letting out any moisture or vapor
- The material should be leakproof
- The material should be made especially for resisting freezing temperatures and hence should not crack or brittle
- Materials should be airtight and not let flavors or odors of other frozen foods in
- Containers or bags should be convenient to use (easy to seal and label)
How to Pack the Vegetables
- It is best to store vegetables in divided portions according to your future use. This helps in using just the right amount of vegetables you need for one-time cooking and not thawing up the whole packet.
- If you are freezing veggies in containers, always leave some headspace for the items to be stored. However, some vegetables, such as asparagus and broccoli, can be stored loosely.
- If using storage bags, then make sure to vacuum the air from the bag after packing the veggies.
- Always label the containers or bags before freezing.
How to Blanch your Veggies
Blanching is very crucial for successfully freezing veggies for a long time. It keeps them from going bad and losing their nutrition. Following are the directions for blanching:
- Boil about 1 gallon of water (this is instructed for 1 pound of veggies)
- Put the vegetables in the water and let it boil again.
- The blanching time should be counted when the water boils again with the veggies inside.
- When done, vegetables should instantly be cooled in twice the quantity of cold water.
- Chill the vegetables after that and let them be for the same amount of time as they were blanched.
- Drain all the water from the vegetables and put them in packages for freezing.
Blanching Time for Different Vegetables
- Two minutes for asparagus (small spears) and 4 minutes for asparagus (large spears).
- 2-3 minutes for Italian beans.
- Three minutes for the broccoli.
- Three minutes for Brussels sprout (small heads) and 5 minutes for the large ones.
- Cabbage should be blanched in quarters for about 4 minutes. If it is shredded, then it should only take about one and a half minutes.
- Sliced or diced carrots take about 2 minutes while whole carrots should be blanched for about 5 minutes.
- Three minutes for small pieces of cauliflower and 5 minutes for large pieces.
- Whole corn should be blanched for about 4 minutes.
- Small okra pods should take approximately 3 minutes.
- Black-eyed beans or peas take one and a half minutes.
- Zucchini and summer squash should be blanched for about 3 minutes.
- Veggies such as potatoes, spaghetti squash, tomatoes, and pumpkin should not be blanched but cooked before freezing.
- You can always use a colander, a metal basket, or a sieve in place of a blancher.
It is good to think about yourself and look for convenient ways to ease your daily chores. Freezing vegetables is an excellent time and energy-conserving method to help relieve you of some stress of cooking. Furthermore, blanching the veggies is very important to maintain and preserve their taste, texture, and nutrition.
If you love eating healthy and want to preserve fresh broccoli for a long time, then check out our article on Preserving Fresh Broccoli in the freezer.