Second to homemade ice cream, the best things in my freezer are the bags of fresh vegetables I keep frozen. Whether from the grocery store or the farmers market, whenever I find a great deal on veggies, I always stock up. I don't necessarily need them when I buy them, but I will eventually, so I freeze them for later.
Before stashing my favorite fresh veggies in the freezer, there's one thing I do that makes them hold up even better.
To really get the most out freezing fresh vegetables for later, blanch them first!
What Is Blanching?
Blanching is a basic cooking technique that involves submerging food in a pot of boiling water, briefly cooking it for a couple minutes, and then submerging it in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.
It's an extra step, but well worth it. Blanching helps vegetables keep their vibrant colors and retain nutrients, and stops the enzymes that would otherwise lead to spoilage. Freezing vegetables without blanching them first results in faded or dulled coloring, as well as off flavors and textures.
After blanching, pat the vegetables dry with a towel, then arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet — just as you would when freezing fruit — before putting them in the freezer to freeze solid. Then, store them in a freezer bag.
→ Freeze vegetables the same way you would fruit! How to Freeze Fruit
The Vegetables That Work Best
When getting ready to store vegetables like beans, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, carrots, and Brussels sprouts, be sure to blanch them first.
When it comes to leafy greens, like spinach, chard, and kale, the choice is yours. You don't have to blanch them, though if you do the greens will cook down and won't take up as much space.
And certain vegetables, like tomatoes, potatoes, and winter squash, for example, don't need to be blanched before going into the freezer.