As homesteaders, we work hard to grow fresh produce, harvest at just the right time for optimal nutritional content and flavor, and to preserve or extend the life of the food for our family. There are several options when it comes to food preservation and storage. In this post we will talk about freezing. It sounds pretty simple....just put stuff in containers and freeze them, right? Well, not really. There is an extra step you can and should take before freezing your garden fresh veggies. Blanching. I'll explain more in a moment.
So did you know that after you pick your veggies, there are enzymes in/on them that cause them to continue to ripen or age? Even if you plan to freeze your veggies, the enzymes will still continue to break down the produce, changing the texture/color/flavor of it in the process. Freezing the produce slows the process down but does not stop it completely. To keep your veggies crisp, flavorful, and fresh, blanching will neutralize these enzymes so your produce stays as fresh as it was the day you picked it.
So what is blanching? Blanching is when you drop your produce into a boiling water bath for a short specified amount of time to neutralize the enzymes and then drop it into an ice water bath to quickly cool and stop the cooking process.
Once I have blanched my vegetables and quick cooled them, I like to lay them out on a cookie sheet spread out, and freeze them for several minutes before I add them to a storage container to continue the freezing process. The reason I like to do this is because it helps to dry the outside of the veggies, making it so they don't stick together. This helps in that you don't get a massive frozen clump of veggies, but rather loose, individual veggies which makes it easy to grab a handful or two (or three) vs having to defrost the entire bag.
Don't forget to label/date your bags or containers before you put them in the freezer!
Here is a chart that will give you the recommended blanch times.
BLANCH TIME - MINUTES
Artichoke-Globe (Hearts) - 7
Asparagus -Small Stalk/Medium Stalk/Large Stalk - 2 /3 /4
Beans-Snap, Green, or Wax - 3
Beans-Lima, Butter, or Pinto - Small/Medium/Large -2/3/4
Broccoli (flowerets 1 1/2 inches across) (steamed vs water boil blanch) 3
Brussel Sprouts -Small Heads/Medium Heads/Large Heads - 3/4/5
Cabbage or Chinese Cabbage (shredded) - 1 1/2
Carrots - Small - Diced/ Sliced into lengthwise strips - 5 / 2
Cauliflower (flowerets, 1 inch across) - 3
Celery - 3
Corn - on-the-cob - Small Ears/Medium Ears/Large Ears - 7 / 9 / 11
Eggplant - 4
Greens - Collards / All Other - 3 / 2
Kohlrabi - Whole/Cubes - 3 / 1
Okra - Small Pods/ Large Pods - 3 / 4
Peas- Snap or Edible Pod - 2
Peas-Field (blackeye) - 2
Peas-Green - 1 1/2
Peppers-Sweet - Halves/Strips or Rings - 3 / 2
Potatoes-Irish (New) - 3-5
Rutabagas - 3
Squash-Chayote - 2
Squash-Summer - 3
Squash-Winter - personally, we let them cure and store them whole until needed otherwise we fully cook then freeze.
Sweet Potatoes - (see our post about storing sweet potatoes)
Turnips or Parsnips - Cubes -2
I hope this helps! Please feel free to leave questions or comments below!!
With lots of love
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