Freezing Fresh Vegetables
Freezing is a simple way to preserve vegetables at home. Here are some tips.
- Select vegetables at their peak of texture and flavor.
- Blanching (cooking briefly in boiling water) is essential. This process inactivates enzymes in vegetables, helping to retain color, texture, flavor, and nutrients. Blanching times will differ by vegetable. The easiest way to blanch vegetables is to place them in a wire or metal colander or blanching basket. Lower colander or basket into boiling water, making sure vegetables are completely immersed. Carefully remove colander or basket from boiling water after blanching is complete.
- Use good-quality freezer containers or bags for maximum quality. A good seal is essential to keep air out and moisture in. We prefer zip-top plastic freezer bags.
- A general rule of thumb is to use frozen vegetables within 6 to 12 months.
General Freezing Instructions:
- Wash vegetables, and if necessary, cut into uniform pieces.
- Blanch in boiling water, following blanching times closely (see recommended blanching times below). Use 1 gal. of water for each lb. of vegetables (2 gal. per lb. of leafy greens). Bring water to a vigorous boil; add vegetables. Cover, but do not reduce heat; begin timing immediately.
- Drain or remove vegetables from boiling water, and plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process. Let vegetables stand in ice water the same length of time they were blanched.
- Drain thoroughly, and pack into freezer containers or bags. If using rigid containers, leave 1/2 inch of headspace. Freeze.
The Cooperative Extension service at Clemson University recommends the following blanching times.
- 1 1/2 minutes: green peas
- 2 minutes: field peas, sliced or chopped carrots, greens (except collard greens)
- 3 minutes: green beans, snap beans, wax beans, broccoli and cauliflower florets, collard greens, sliced summer squash
- 4 minutes: sliced eggplant, whole kernel corn (for whole kernel corn, cut kernels off cob after blanching and cooling)
- 5 minutes: small whole carrots
The following times vary based on size.
- 2 to 4 minutes: asparagus, lima, butter, and pinto beans
- 3 to 4 minutes: okra
- 3 to 5 minutes: Brussels sprouts, new potatoes
- 7 to 11 minutes: corn on the cob
"From Our Kitchen" is from the July 2006 issue of Southern Living.