Freezing broccoli

(Tangerines. Franklin Park Conservatory. Feb. 2008. © Robin)

Once again, the photo has nothing to do with the post. It’s from my archives. Pretty yummy looking fruit, don’t you think?

It’s also a good reminder to me to be sure to get plenty of vitamin C.

This month of blogging about food has been fun. I’ve learned that my food photography skills are not nearly as bad as I thought they were. There’s plenty of room for improvement, but some of my shots were decent.

Anyone know yet what the NaBloPoMo theme for August will be? Just curious. I don’t think I’ll jump on the NaBloPoMo bandwagon again until November. It depends on the themes. If something grabs my interest and gives me another chance to practice my photography, I’ll go for it.

Yesterday Elaine, a new visitor to Life in the Bogs, asked how I freeze my broccoli. It’s very easy.

Preparation: You want to select young, firm, tender stalks with compact heads. Remove the leaves and any woody portions. Separate the heads into sections. I generally cut it up into portions that are ready for eating, but if there are some long stalks, I’ll just separate them into “spears.” Immerse the cut up broccoli in brine (about 4 teaspoons salt to 1 gallon of water) for 30 minutes to remove any insects that might be hiding in the heads (usually you’ll find some little, bright green, worms). If you haven’t already done so, split the spears lengthwise so flowerets are no more than 1-1/2 inches across.

I rinse it after it’s soaked. I don’t know why. You probably don’t have to.

There are two methods of blanching: Water blanching and steam blanching. Blanching, in case you’re unfamiliar with it, is the scalding of vegetables. Blanching kills off the enzymes that cause the vegetables to grow and mature. Without blanching, these enzymes would stay active even during the frozen stage and cause off colors, off flavors, and some toughening of the veggies.

I’ve tried both water and steam blanching. I prefer the water method. It seems to work better (for me. Your mileage may vary.).

Water blanch the broccoli in batches (usually one gallon of water per pound of veggies). Bring the water to a boil, then lower the veggies into the water allowing the water to continue boiling. Cover and start timing from this point. For broccoli, you want to blanch it for 3 minutes in boiling water. (Steam blanching time is 5 minutes.) I have a small wire basket that I use to lower the veggies into the water and to make it easier to get them out.

After 3 minutes, remove the broccoli from the water and immerse it in cold water for 3 minutes (the rule of blanching is that you cool it for as long as you blanched it). This stops the cooking process. You want to do this right away, as over blanching your veggies is just as bad as under blanching.

Drain thoroughly. I lay the broccoli out on a towel and kind of toss it around in the towel (gently!) to dry it. If it’s too wet, ice crystals will form and your broccoli will get freezer burnt. Blech.

Package the broccoli, leaving no headspace. Seal and freeze.

I use freezer bags, and suck the air out of them with a straw. One of these days I might invest in one of those sealing things that vacuum packs your food. In the meantime, this method works well.

Hope that helps. 🙂

10 Comments on “Freezing broccoli”

  1. Dee says:

    Hi: Great tip – just what I was looking for. However, what is the procedure to cook the frozen broccoli? When I cook it fresh, I boil it for approx 3 minutes, otherwise it becomes too soggy.

  2. Robin says:

    Hi and welcome, Dee. 🙂

    I steam it for about 3-5 minutes (depending on the size of the florets). Or you can microwave it for about the same amount of time. Boiling for that amount of time will do, too.

    It should be noted that I like my broccoli barely cooked, to that crisp-tender stage. Mushy/soggy, to me, is bad. Blech. However, some folks (like my husband) prefer it so it “melts in your mouth.” Just double the cooking time for that version.

  3. […] broccoli without blanching.  I have become the expert (heh) on this subject ever since I posted Freezing broccoli back in 2008.  Every year around this time, people who want to freeze broccoli without going to […]

  4. I’ve never tried freezing broccoli myself. Thanks!

  5. Anita Mac says:

    Great tip! Thanks.

  6. When you steam instead of water blanch, what is different about the results? I was going to try steam blanching, but I’ve never tried it before. ~Angela~

    • Robin says:

      Sent an email off to you Angela. 🙂 Home blanched broccoli, in my opinion, is so much better than the stuff they have in the freezers at the grocery store.

  7. […] lot of it.  Freezing broccoli always reminds me of my old blog.  One of my most popular posts was Freezing Broccoli.  A few years later I followed that up with this post because people kept searching for how to […]

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