Vegetables need freezing for a variety of reasons. Buying or growing too many vegetables is pretty easy to do when buying by weight or a whole bag. Preserving vegetable freshness is necessary to keep vegetables tasting good and nutritious.
Whether you are picking vegetables fresh from the garden or have a bag of green beans from the grocery store, the important of freezing and thawing is the same. You’ve probably seen TV shows and movies with root cellars full of jars of vegetables. Today’s methods aren’t quite the same!
Freezing vegetables just takes a little time and requires something to keep your vegetables moist but free of oxygen. We detail some methods of doing this below.
What’s the best way to freeze vegetables?
Vegetables are both the best tasting and the most fresh when they are in season. If it helps any more, vegetables are also the cheapest when in season! There is a specific method called blanch and shock that best preserves the taste.
- Prepare a pot of boiling water that will fit your vegetables and a pot of ice cold water for afterward.
- You could put salt in the water to add some flavor, though the salt will eventually cause the vegetables to become mushy.
- Put the vegetables you wish to freeze in the boiling water
- Boil briefly. A good time for specific boiling times can be found here.
- Remove the vegetables from the boiling water and put them in the ice cold water
- Remove the vegetables from the ice cold water after about a minute
- Place the vegetables on a tray with paper towels to allow them to dry
- Remove the paper towels and put the tray with dried vegetables in the freezer
- Once the vegetables are frozen solid, remove the vegetables from the tray and put them in airtight containers.
What’s important when freezing vegetables
Now that the vegetables are ready to really freeze, there are a couple important things to keep your vegetables fresh. You want to remove all the air possible from your storage container while retaining moisture.
The best kinds of bags to use for freezing vegetables are heavy duty freezer proof bags. You could also use freezer tape and heavy duty aluminum foil. You can wrap airtight containers in either of these, too.
Air-tight containers should have no problem. Be sure to properly seal any heavy duty bags. You can go as far as placing a straw into the bag as you are sealing it – then sucking the air out and removing the straw.
The pros and cons of blanching
Be careful when blanching. Overheating your vegetables can cause the loss of color, flavor, and texture when freezing. Not doing enough heating stimulates enzyme activity and is worse than not balancing.
Use the guide linked above in balancing instructions. Vegetables do vary in their blanching times so definitely pay attention to those.
Blancinging correctly leads to vegetables that retain their flavor, texture, and nutritional value. Blanching incorrectly can have the opposite result.
I don’t want to boil before freezing, what else can I do to freeze vegetables?
Many veggies can be put in the freezer without blanching, but the quality is likely to be less than ideal.
Vegetables can be placed in air tight containers or zip lock bags without blanching.
Are there any vegetables I should not freeze?
There are vegetables that should be frozen in a specific way, but not really any unfreezable vegetables.
To preserve flavor and texture, at least partially cook potatoes through blancing. Why? Potatoes contain a fair amount of water and freezing a raw potato will turn it mushy. While moisture is generally the friend of a frozen vegetable, too much is not a good thing.
Lettuce contains so much water it’s difficult to freeze. We suggest using the following method and using it quickly.
- Remove the lettuce leaves from the core of the lettuce
- Rinse the lettuce leaves, then dry them with a paper towel
- Place the leaves in a air tight bag and freeze them
If you are storing lettuce for future use in smoothies or soups, you can puree the lettuce and freeze it in a air tight container.
Without blanching, you can freeze corn anyway. The best way of keeping them fresh and tasty is below
- Place corn in a container or tray in a single layer.
- Place the container or tray in the freezer
Corn on the cob is a little different and actually quite simple
- Remove the shucks from corn on the cub
- Put them in an air tight container. You are unlikely able to separate corn on the cob and don’t really need to
- Place the container in the freezer
Without blanching, we have a suggested step by step:
- Chop the ends of the green beans and cut them to desired sizes
- Put them in a container or heavy duty plastic bag
- Place in the freezer
You can also freeze the green beans on a tray for an hour before putting them in the plastic bag.
Peas are a bit more difficult to separate since they can be larger than corn and a bit sensitive
- Rinse first.
- Place peas in an airtight container or heavy duty plastic bag. You should also consider using aluminum foil wrapped around the outside
- Put in the freezer.
Using boiling water and cold water through a method calling blanching is the most highly suggested way of retaining nutrition and taste. Otherwise, our suggested methods will help retain the taste and quality of vegetables for at least a couple of frozen months.
When you start to cook your veggies, be mindful of oil too.