So you have finally decided that this is the year you’ll plant a vegetable garden. If you do it right, you’ll probably have more vegetables than you can eat in one season. That is why it is important to know what vegetables freeze well and how to do it correctly. Freezing vegetables allows you to have fresh tasting vegetables all winter. It also helps reduce your grocery bill.
The majority of freeze-worthy vegetables need to be blanched first. Blanching means to plunge the vegetables into boiling water for a few minutes, remove, and freeze. Before blanching, be sure to clean, peel, and cut your vegetables. You want to be able to take them from freezer, to stove, to table in the future with no worries. To blanch properly bring a large pot of water to boiling. Then take your prepped vegetables and put them in either a large hand-held strainer that you can lower into the water, or just drop them in by the handful. The water should begin to boil again within a minute. If it doesn’t, you are trying to blanch too many vegetables at one time. Follow the approximate times below for some common vegetables for blanching.
- Asparagus – 2 to 4 minutes depending on thickness
- Green Beans – 3 minutes
- Broccoli – 3 minutes
- Brussels Sprouts – 3 to 5 minutes depending on size
- Carrots – 3 minutes
- Cauliflower – 3 minutes
- Corn – Blanch for 3 to 6 minutes on the cob. Remove the kernels after blanching if desired
- Peas – 1 to 2 minutes
- Bell Peppers – 2 to 3 minutes or just freeze
- Zucchini – 3 minutes
Onions and tomatoes do not need to be blanched to be frozen. Onions can simply be chopped and frozen. Tomatoes need to be peeled, cored, cut, and dried slightly before freezing. Bell peppers are an optional vegetable for blanching. If you want to blanch them follow the guidelines above or just prep them and freeze. Once you have blanched for the recommended times, place the vegetables into ice water to stop the cooking process. After they’ve cooled, let them dry and then pack them into freezer bags or containers. You can dry them easily by just laying paper towels onto a baking sheet and laying the vegetables on them. Make sure to squeeze all of the air out of freezer bags before freezing. Most vegetables will keep for up to six months.
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