Friday, June 12, 2009

Freezing Veggies

You knew that was coming, didn’t you? The suspense is staggering, as is the garden, under the weight of the greenies. Harvesting spinach and peas has occupied much of my outdoor time this past week. What to do with the bounty? Many frozen veggies are as fresh tasting and as good nutritionally as fresh market produce. To obtain an excellent product:
• Use proper varieties
• Harvest at the right time, when vegetables are young and tender.
• Adequately blanch and cool
• Package correctly

The fresher the vegetables are when frozen, the more satisfactory the product will be.
Before you pop those veggies in the freezer, they must go through the blanching process.

• Slows or stops the action of enzymes that can cause loss of flavor, color, texture, and nutrients.
• Cleans the surface of dirt and organisms.
• Wilts or softens veggies to make them easier to pack.
• With the exception of green peppers and onions, vegetables maintain better quality during freezer storage if they are blanched

Blanching time varies by vegetable and by size of food pieces. For one pound of veggies, use at least one gallon of boiling water. Put the veggies in a blanching basket, colander, sieve, or deep fryer basket and lower into the actively boiling water. Put the lid on the blancher or kettle, wait for the water to return to a boil, then start counting the blanching time. Times for specific vegetables are listed in Freezing Fruits and Vegetables PNF 214, available from your Extension Service Office.

Many veggies can be blanched in steam. This is slower, requiring 50% more time than water blanching. Put a small quantity of vegetable in a steamer basket and suspend over one inch of boiling water. A clam steamer makes an acceptable steamer basket. Cover the pan and steam the required time. Broccoli, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and winter squash are best blanched in steam.

Immediately after blanching, plunge your veggies into ice-cold water to stop the cooking process quickly. A dishpan or one side of a sanitized double kitchen sink works just fine. Then package in meal-size, airtight, moisture-proof containers, label, and store in the freezer. Happy Freezing!


  1. Karen, what about asparagus? I know the thin new stalks cook differently than the fat mature stalks, so I'm guessing the blanching time is different for each. Or is asparagus even a good candidate for freezing?

  2. You're reminding me that I never cook anymore... EEEk

  3. Karen, what's the best veggie to freeze? BF has too many potatoes and pumpkins. Can we freeze them?

    In Quest of Theta Magic

  4. I'm an avid veggie freezer. One quick tip:

    Don't bother removing tomato skins (depending on your planned use). They float to the top, usually, in soups and stews when you use them later. You can skim them off. Or, if the tomatoes were super tender, you won't notice them anyway!

  5. Great comments and questions. Hold on a bit and I'll spend a blog answering these and others!


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~ I'm the author of Headwind: The Intrepid Adventures of OSS Agent Katrin Nissen. If you're a WWII buff, you'll like it here!