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A Cheat Sheet on Preparing Vegetables for Freezing

A Cheat Sheet on Preparing Vegetables for Freezing

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
  1. Fill a stock pot half-way with water and bring to a rolling boil.
  2. Place prepared vegetables into a heat proof wire basket, such as a round fry basket, and lower into the water.
  3. Start your kitchen timer to the specified amount of time for the type of vegetable (see table below.)
  4. Remove the vegetables when the timer goes off and immediately plunge the basket of produce into a large bowl of ice water.
  5. 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:

Artichoke Hearts Asparagus Bell Peppers
  • Remove leaves, stem, crown and choke
  • Wash heart in cold water
  • Blanch the heart in boiling water for 7 minutes 
  • Plunge into ice water for 1 minute
  • Dry off and pack in air-tight, food storage container
  • Store for 10 to 12 months
  • Wash the spears in cold water and trim stems 
  • Separate thick and thin spears
  • Cut each group of spears to a uniform length
  • Blanch the thin spears for 2 minutes
  • Blanch the thick spears for 4 minutes
  • Plunge each batch into ice water for 1 minute
  • Dry off and pack in air-tight food storage containers or in vacuum sealed bundles
  • Store for 10 to 12 months
  • Wash the peppers under cold water
  • Cut off the stems and trim off the inner white membrane and remove all seeds
  • Chop the pepper into halves or slices
  • Blanch the pepper slices for 2 minutes 
  • Blanch halves for 3 minutes
  • Plunge each batch into ice water for 1 minute
  • Place peppers on baking sheet lined with parchment paper
  • Put baking sheet into freezer for 2 hours
  • Remove peppers from the freezer and place into an air tight container or vacuum sealed package
  • Store for 10 to 12 month
Broccoli Brussels Sprouts Cabbage
  • Remove leaves and woody sections
  • Wash in cold salty water 
  • Chop the head into manageable pieces
  • Blanch small sections for 3 minutes and large bunches for 5 minutes
  • Plunge each batch into ice water for 1 minute
  • Dry off and pack into an air-tight food storage containers or vacuum sealed bunches
  • Store for 12 to 18 months
  • Remove leaves and wash sprouts in cold water
  • Separate small, medium and large sprouts from each other
  • Blanch small sprouts for 3 minutes
  • Blanch medium sprouts for 4 minutes
  • Blanch large sprouts for 5 minutes.
  • Plunge each batch into ice water for 1 minute
  • Dry off and pack into an air-tight container or vacuum sealed package
  • Store for 12 to 18 months
  • Wash cabbage under cold water
  • Shred cabbage leaves
  • Blanch for 2 minutes
  • Plunge into ice water for 1 minute
  • Package in air-tight food storage bags or vacuum sealed packages
  • Store for 12 to 18 months
Carrots Cauliflower Green Beans
  • Chop off the tops of the carrots
  • Wash carrots with cold water and peel first layer away
  • Chop large carrots down to 2 inch pieces, cubes or slice into strips
  • Blanch small cubes and strips for 2 minutes
  • Blanch 2 inch pieces or whole baby carrots for 5 minutes
  • Plunge into ice water for 1 minute
  • Dry off the carrots
  • Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and spread carrots out onto the pan
  • Place into freezer for 1 to 2 hours or until carrots are frozen solid
  • Scoop carrots and place into an air-tight container, bag or vacuum sealed pacakage
  • Store for 12 to 18 months
  • Remove leaves and wash under cold water
  • Chop or break apart the florets into small sizes
  • Blanch for 3 minutes 
  • Plunge into ice water for 1 minute
  • Dry off and pack into air-tight storage containers or vacuum sealed packages
  • Store for 6 months
  • Wash under cold water
  • Trip the ends
  • Blanch for 3 minutes
  • Plunge into ice water for 1 minute
  • Dry off
  • Pack into airtight food storage containers, freezer bags or vacuum sealed packages
  • Store for 12 to 18 months
Mushrooms Peas Spinach
There are two ways to store mushrooms: Saute or Steam

Saute
  • Wipe mushrooms clean with a damp paper towel
  • Slice bigger mushrooms into small halves and leave small mushrooms fully intact
  • Saute in butter
  • Allow time to cool and pack in airtight containers, freezer bags or vacuum sealed packages
  • Store for 3 months
Steam
  • Wipe mushrooms clean with a damp paper towel
  • Steam sliced mushrooms for 3 minutes and whole mushrooms for 5 minutes
  • Allow mushrooms to cool off and pack them into air-tight containers with a little room left at the top
  • Store for 10 to 12 months
  • Wash pods under cold water and shell peas
  • Blanch peas for 1 minute
  • Plunge into ice water for 1 minute
  • Dry off and pack into freezer bags or vacuum sealed packages
  • Store for 12 to 18 months
  • Wash under cold water 
  • Trim off stalks and any woody sections
  • Blanch for 2 minutes
  • Plunge into ice water for 1 minute
  • Dry off and pack into freezer bags or vacuum-sealed packages
  • Store for 10 to 12 months
Summer Squash Tomatoes Zucchini
  • Wash under cold water
  • Chop off ends and cut into half-inch slices
  • Blanch for 1 minute
  • Plunge into ice water for 1 minute
  • Dry off and pack into air-tight food storage containers or vacuum sealed packages
  • Store for 10 to 12 months
Tomatoes do not freeze well in their whole state. For optimal results, puree the tomatoes first.
  • Wash the tomato under cold water
  • Blanch for 1 minute
  • Remove from water and peel the skin off
  • Remove the core
  • Simmer for 5 minutes
  • Blend with a commercial blender or pass through a sieve
  • Let cool and pack into air-tight food storage containers or freezer bags
  • Leave room in packaging at top for expansion
  • Store for 10 to 12 months
  • Wash under cold water
  • Chop off ends and cut into half-inch slices
  • Blanch for 1 minute
  • Plunge into ice water for 1 minute
  • Dry off and pack into air-tight food storage containers or vacuum sealed packages
  • Store for 10 to 12 months


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