To effectively freeze fresh produce, you must first begin with vegetables at the peak of ripeness. Once you have collected your bounty, the next step is to thoroughly wash and prepare the produce for frozen storage. This can include peeling, shelling, chopping and removing outer layers, spears or stems.
After the vegetables are prepped, there are two more important steps to take: blanching and shocking. Blanching is placing the vegetables in boiling-hot water for a certain amount of time and shocking is plunging the blanched vegetables into ice cold water for one minute to stop the cooking process. This process deactivates the enzymes within the vegetable’s cell structure and protects the produce from deteriorating while frozen.
How to Blanch Vegetables
- Fill a stock pot half-way with water and bring to a rolling boil.
- Place prepared vegetables into a heat proof wire basket, such as a round fry basket, and lower into the water.
- Start your kitchen timer to the specified amount of time for the type of vegetable (see table below.)
- Remove the vegetables when the timer goes off and immediately plunge the basket of produce into a large bowl of ice water.
- Drain and dry off vegetables, pack, label and freeze.*
*Certain vegetables, such as bell peppers, will do well to freeze on a sheet pan first and then package for storage after they are frozen solid. In the table below, we highlight which vegetables to freeze on a sheet pan first.
Different types of vegetables are blanched for different lengths of time. Below is a cheat sheet for how to prepare and blanch popular vegetables before freezing.
Before you get started be sure to have the following items on hand:
- Cutting board
- Sharp chef’s knife
- Stock pot
- Large mixing bowl
- Sheet pan
- Paper towels
- Wire basket
- Air-tight food storage containers
- Freezer bags
- Vacuum pack machine
|Artichoke Hearts||Asparagus||Bell Peppers|
|There are two ways to store mushrooms: Saute or Steam|
|Tomatoes do not freeze well in their whole state. For optimal results, puree the tomatoes first.|