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Streamline Vegetable Freezing

The garden is producing well and while we are eating from it at every meal, we’re still having more than enough to preserve for the winter.  I employ many methods of food preservation, I probably can more than anything else but I also dehydrate, ferment, and freeze.  I like canning because it’s shelf stable and unlike freezing I don’t have to worry about my food spoiling should the power go out.  However, I don’t like the flavor or texture of certain things canned or dried and so those things are frozen.  Things like broccoli, peas, peppers, snow peas and berries are just better frozen in my opinion.  When freezing vegetables there’s an easy way to systemize the process so that it gets done quickly and correctly for the best flavor later.  Streamline vegetable freezing by following this process:

Streamline Vegetable Freezing - Homespun Seasonal Living

1. Get Vegetables Ready

Get vegetables completely ready before beginning.  Shell peas, peel broccoli, remove the strings from snow peas, etc.  Keep a bucket or bowl for the compost heap close by, this helps keep the work space clean and allows for quicker prep.

Streamline Vegetable Freezing - Homespun Seasonal Living

2. Bring Water to Boil

I use a pot with a pasta / steamer basket component.  This makes doing multiple batches easier as the water stays hot and you don’t need to dump out the water to strain the vegetables each and every time.  If you don’t have that kind of pot, that’s fine, you’ll just have to dump the water through a colander to strain the vegetables in the next step.

3. Boil or Steam the Vegetables

Each vegetable has an optimum time to be blanched before being frozen.  I use the table in Preserving Summer’s Bounty as it’s one of my favorite preservation resources, but similar tables can be found in many places

Streamline Vegetable Freezing - Homespun Seasonal Living

4. Drain the Vegetables

When using the pasta pot, I simply lift that top section and give it a good shake, letting all the water drain from the vegetables back into the pot.  Again, use a colander if you don’t have that kind of pot.  What’s important is to get as much water as possible removed from the vegetables.

5. Cool the Vegetables

Spread the drained vegetables out onto a towel and allow to cool.  This prevents ice crystals from forming in your frozen vegetables which can comprise flavor and texture.  If you’re doing multiple batches or vegetables: let these sit and begin at the beginning, re-using and reheating the water in your pot.

Streamline Vegetable Freezing - Homespun Seasonal Living

6. Store

Put the cooled vegetables into serving size portions in freezer bags or jars and freeze for later.  As much as I don’t like plastic, this is a place where I use the plastic bags, because they can be stored flat for optimum freezer space usage.

Streamline Vegetable Freezing - Homespun Seasonal Living

7. Save the Cooking Water

The water is infused with plenty of flavor and nutrients.  You could freeze it as a weak vegetable both if desired.  I have found that the flavor is a bit too weak for my general taste, however; it makes a delightful cooking liquid for rice if you’re inclined to keep it around.  I’ve also been known to pour the cooled cooking water onto plants for a little nutrient boost.

That’s it.  Freezing is a great way to preserve the texture of tender vegetables – I just don’t like how broccoli and peas get in the pressure canner and it’s a quick way to move through multiple small batches of garden produce. 

How to do streamline the freezing process? 

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Heidi @ Pint Size Farm

Thursday 2nd of October 2014

Great tip - thanks :) Now I just need the freezer space, LOL!

track mccreary

Friday 5th of September 2014

I am constantly chopping/prepping batches of veggies for our guests here at the B&B we manage, so it's nice to have them on hand. I chop and freeze many of the onions, peppers, etc. and one thing I have found to be a real time saver after blanching veggies is to put them after the blanching/cold water bath into my salad spinner and give it a few whirls. Takes out nearly all of the water that was adhereing to them, then place them on a towel and into a tray into the freezer to firm up, then transfer to permanent storage bags. Always ready, crisp, and colorful, and easy clean up!

Jen Wright

Tuesday 19th of August 2014

I haven't blanched beans peas and leafy greens before freezing for years-they keep perfectly well from season to season so no heating up the kitchen! i find cabbage is best almost cooked, then chilled and frozen. Carrots etc doesn't seem to make any difference blanched or not-will shatter with ice crystals just as new ones come in!

Steve Tuttle

Tuesday 19th of August 2014

I do much the same thing, but also two more ideas. You really should put the blanched veggies in a cold water bath to cool them quickly. They are very hot after just draining away hot water and thus continue to cook. Then I dry by spreading on a kitchen towel and blot with a second one. A final step I've incorporated is to lay the cooled and mostly dry veggies, such as beans or zucchini, on cookie sheets which I then put in the freezer. then the next day I put into gallon freezer bags. This way I never have a clump of veggies stuck together and can take out as much as needed. With a big harvest, like the 6 gallons of green beans I got 2 weeks ago, I use two pots of water and while it is a bit fast-paced, once you get the timing down, you can really produce.

Mitch D

Tuesday 19th of August 2014

Brilliant idea..