Saturday, May 14, 2011

Freezing Vegetables Preview

Most you don't have fresh produce from your gardens just yet, but for the past week, I have been busy picking and putting up snowpeas or sugar snap peas as they are sometimes called. The same friend who encouraged me to start this blog, suggested that I post how to freeze vegetables properly so here goes:

First of all, use produce that is not over or under ripe. The fresher the vegetable is, the better. I generally put mine up within a few hours of the time I pick or purchase them. If you cannot get to them within that time frame, refrigerate them but allow them to warm up to room temperature if you can before processing them. Do not soak them in water though they should be washed and well drained.

Prepare your vegetables as if you were going to cook and eat them right away. Vegetable must be blanched (a process of quick short time cooking and cooling very quickly to stop the cooking process). I will describe how to do snowpeas but check the chart below for other blanching times.

First fill a large pot with hot water and bring to a rapid boil. Add the vegetables and once it resumes boiling, cook for about 1 ½ minutes. Immediately drain in a colander and rinse with cold tap water. (If you have a wire basket, that works very well instead) Then plunge them into cold water (ice cubes are preferred) and gently stir them to make sure they cool evenly. It usually takes the same amount of time to cool them as it does for the cooking. This stops the cooking process and will aid in retaining nutrition as well as color.


Drain them well and pack into freezer bags (or other freezer containers) squeezing out any excess air and leaving some head space for them to expand as they freeze. Label with the date you process them. Spread them out as flat as you can so that you can stack and freeze them using as little freezer space as necessary.

Most fruits and vegetables should be used within 8 to 10 months for optimum results. Now wasn’t that easy?

Asparagus                  Blanch small spears 2 min. medium 3 min. and large for 4 min.

Beans; butter, lima    Blanch small beans for 2 min. medium 3 min. & large for 4 min.
Or pinto                     

Beans; green, Italian      Blanch for 3 minutes
Wax or snap

Beets                           Beets should be fully cooked, then peeled and cut into desired
                                    Shapes or pieces.

Broccoli                      Cut into pieces no thicker than 1 ½ inches – blanch 3 min.

Brussels sprouts         Sort according to size and blanch 4 minutes

Carrots                       Blanch tiny whole carrots for 5 minutes; cut carrots for 2 min.

Cauliflower                Cut into 1 inch thick pieces – blanch 3 minutes

Corn, cream style      Boil whole ears for 4 minutes. Cool quickly; use a sharp knife to cut
                                    Off the kernels then scrape corn with a dull knife. Fill containers
                                    And leave ½ inch head space

Corn, whole kernel   Cook ears for 4 minutes, then cut off kernels. Do not scrape ears.

Greens                        Wash thoroughly, cut and discard large stems
            Beet/Chard    2 minutes
            Kale                2 minutes
            Mustard/Turnip  2 minutes
            Spinach          2 minutes
            Collards          3 minutes

Mixed vegetables       Prepare and blanch separately according to the right times, then
                                    Mix together after blanching

Peas, edible pods       See above

Peas, English or         Blanch 1 ½ minutes

Peppers, hot               Simply package in freezer containers – no blanching is needed

Peppers, sweet           Spread prepared peppers on a baking sheet and freeze firmly, then
                                    Quickly fill containers and freeze

Potatoes, sweet           Cook until tender with skins on . . . peel and cut as desired, dip in a
                                    Solution of ½ c. lemon juice per quart of water OR
                                    Mash with 2 T. lemon juice per quart of sweet potatoes – this is to
                                    Prevent darkening

Squash, summer        Cut into ¼ inch slices – blanch 3 minutes
            , winter           Cook until tender, mash and cool (about 15 minutes to cook)

Tomatoes                    (Personally I do not care for frozen tomatoes)
                                    Prepare and fill containers.

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