Whenever I have an excess of vegetable that will spoil and can be frozen, I prefer to blanch first.
What’s blanching? Basically, you plunge the vegetables into boiling water for a minute or so, and then plunge them into ice water to stop them cooking any further.
I freeze a bunch of vegetables this way, most often:
- Fresh corn – loses flavour fast, and I tend to forget after the first day in the fridge how long it has been. So I blanch a bunch of cut corn if we don’t eat it the same day. Well, mostly. 🙂
- Broad beans – although these have an outer shell, they still benefit from blanching. I rarely use these on the day we harvest, and we get a *lot* at once, hence the freezing.
- Celery – I only do this if the celery is likely to go bad. For example, I got the celery on the cheap and it looks a bit suspicious! Otherwise I store on the counter in a glass of water with the bottoms cut off.
At first I figured that blanching was a bit of a nuisance extra step, and just froze my vegetables straight from the garden. But I noticed with the broad beans and celery that after a few months, the celery (particularly) would be quite brown compared to when it was just frozen. Blanching is supposed to improve the colour, flavour, and texture of frozen foods. So I gave it a try. 🙂
Now it takes many months in the freezer before I start seeing browning. Great! This is enough to motivate me to do it every time. I like adding frozen celery to soups and stews, and it’s much less appetising for the food to look old and brown, even if it is still nutritious!
How to do it
First, prepare your vegetables for the freezer. I like to dice my celery for soups and stews:
Then, get a suitable sized saucepan boiling vigorously on the stove.
At the same time, prepare a big bowl or small sink of water, with a bunch of ice blocks.
Take your prepared vegetables, and plunge them into the water. I think I used too much in one batch this time: it took a while to come back to the boil. You really want it to boil vigorously again in under a minute.
Once the water is boiling again, wait another minute or so – until the vegetable looks brighter in colour. Some veg takes longer, so if you want to take some proper advice, try this article, with the recommended times for each type of veg.
Once the short time is up, take the vegetables out of the boiling water, and straight into the read-made ice water bath. Give them a good swirl around so they cool quickly.
All you need to do now is dry them on a tea towel to remove as much moisture as possible (they will freeze better and stick to each other less if they are dry). Then you can snap freeze them on a tray or just go straight into their box for storage in the freezer.