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What is the best way to freeze vegetables?
As a general rule, vegetables should be blanched (boiled or steamed for a short time) before they are frozen. Blanching stops enzyme actions which can lead to loss of flavour and compromised colour and texture. It also cleanses the surface of dirt and organisms.
Here’s a step-by-step guide:
1. Select young, tender and crisp vegetables that are at their prime. (The sooner after they have been harvested - the better!)
2. Wash them thoroughly.
3. Prep the vegetables as required (e.g. chop up broccoli into florets, trim the ends off green beans.)
4. Blanch or cook the vegetables in boiling water for 30 seconds to a minute, or until they turn vibrant in colour.
5. Remove the vegetables from the boiling water and run them under very cold water or immerse them in an ice bath until they cool.
6. Using paper towel, pat your vegetables dry as thoroughly as possible. If working with leafy greens, squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can.
7. Scatter onto a tray lined with grease-proof paper. Freeze on the tray then transfer to a zip-lock bag, label with the date and return to freezer. This will stop the veg from forming big clumps in the freezer. You can even use ice cube trays for easy portions for stews and soups.
Hint: As is the case with frozen fruit, excess moisture and air can sabotage frozen veg, which is why it’s important to keep them tightly sealed and dry as best you can! Most frozen produce should last up to 18 months if properly stored.
What about roasted vegetables?
Some vegetables such as zucchini, pumpkin, capsicum and onions can be frozen after grilling or roasting and eaten at a later date. (This can be especially handy when dealing with leftovers!)
Simply, allow the vegetables to cool to room temperature after cooking, then place them in a zip-lock bag and put in the freezer. Cooked vegetables should last between 9 to 14 months, depending on how much air was left in the bags.
Note: cooked vegetables do tend to turn soggy after thawing, but can be easily crisped up in the oven.
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Can you freeze fresh vegetables without blanching?
While it’s recommended you blanch your veg before freezing, it is safe to freeze raw veg too (with the exception of leafy greens). Just keep in mind the colours, texture and flavour may change slightly. You can learn more about blanching here.
What are the best vegetables to freeze?
Veggies that hold up well to cooking (for example, corn, beans and peas) generally freeze well too.
Here are a few of our other favourites:
- Avocado (pureed and prepped with lemon juice)
- Brussels sprouts
- Greens (including spinach and collards)
On the other hand, cucumber, lettuce and root vegetables, especially potatoes, don’t keep well in the freezer.