Freezing vegetables from your garden

Have you tried freezing vegetables at home?

Freezing vegetables that you have grown yourself, or picked from a pick-you-own farm, is both satisfying and economical. Rather than having to pay for out of season veggies, preserving your own in the freezer gives you the opportunity to enjoy them year round.

You will get the best results by picking the vegetables and freezing them on the same day, while they are still fresh and in peak condition.

It is also important to set aside enough time for blanching vegetables that are to be frozen and kept for some time. This process will inactivate the enzymes that will otherwise cause the veggies to lose texture, colour, flavour and nutritional value.

If you expect to use the food within a short period then blanching is not always necessary for the following...

  • peas
  • peppers
  • spinach
  • sweetcorn
  • tomatoes

These vegetables are, best not frozen, as they have a high water content and would end up limp and soggy after defrosting... 

There are also a number of vegetables, such as onions, tomatoes and peppers, that can be frozen, but which lose their crispness and texture in the freezer, and are best used for cooking, rather than being served raw.

Others, such as avocado, aubergines (eggplant) and mushrooms tend to discolour and lose their texture so are best used as ingredients in freezer meals rather than being frozen by themselves.

General Instructions for blanching vegetables

  1. Bring a large pan of water (4 litres/7 pints) to the boil. In the meantime prepare a bowl of cold water, and throw in plenty of ice cubes to bring the temperature down.
  2. Place 1lb (500g) of prepared vegetables into a basket and lower into the water.
  3. Bring the water back to the boil quickly, and then start the timer according to the length of time each vegetable needs blanching for (see below).
  4. As soon as the time is up, remove the basket of vegetables and plunge it into a bowl of iced water for a similar period of time.
  5. Drain well, dry and pack in boxes or bags to freeze.

When blanching, the same pan of boiling water can and should be used for successive batches of vegetables. This helps to retain the vitamins and nutrients. The bowl of cold water will need to be refreshed with more ice cubes frequently.

The following guides give directions for freezing vegetables and cooking them afterwards.

Blanching and Freezing Asparagus

Trim your asparagus stalks to the same length, keeping in mind the dimensions of the container you are going to freeze them in.

Blanch thin stalks for 2 minutes and thicker ones for 4. Pack into rigid containers, rather than bags, to protect the delicate tips.

The maximum storage time in the freezer for asparagus is 12 months.

To cook from frozen, pop them into gently boiling, salted water and cook for just a few minutes or until tender.

How to freeze Green Beans

Green beans, such as runner or French, should be fresh enough to snap when bent, and not stringy if you wish to freeze them.

Slice into 1 inch (2.5cm) lengths and blanch for 1-2 minutes only. They can then be packed in bags and frozen for up to 12 months.

Cook from frozen, by plunging into boiling, salted water for 6-12 minutes.

How to blanch Broccoli and freeze it

Remove the leaves and trim the stalks of broccoli (calabrese) so that they fit in your chosen container. Wash in salted water to remove any insects that might be lurking.

Blanch for 3-5 minutes depending on the thickness of the stalk. Handle carefully to avoid breaking them once blanched. Pack in rigid plastic or foil containers, alternating top to tail.

Use within 12 months.

Cook in boiling salted water until just tender.

How to freeze carrots

Baby carrots can be frozen whole, larger ones will need slicing or dicing.

When freezing vegetables it might be worth packing a mixture of sliced carrots and other root vegetables to create a stew pack.

Blanch for 3 - 5 minutes and pack into bags or boxes. Carrots will keep in the freezer for 12 months.

Cook from frozen until just tender.

How to freeze spinach

Remove coarse stalks and any discoloured leaves.

Blanch just a few leaves at a time, to avoid them sticking together, for 2 minutes. Pack in rigid containers or boiling bags.

Store for up to 12 months.

To cook, pop the leaves into a little melted butter and heat slowly. If packed in boiling bags, pop the whole bag into a pan of water and cook.

Ready to start freezing vegetables from your own garden?

I hope you have found this introduction to freezing vegetables useful. I will be adding more vegetable to this page soon, so please do come back and check regularly.

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