Freezing allows you to preserve fresh produce such as meat, vegetables and fruits. But it is also a means of preserving prepared dishes. It’s a simple solution compared to canning your vegetables. However, to maintain their flavour and nutritional quality, we must proceed in stages prior to freezing. Well-prepared, vegetables can be frozen for over 6 months and up to a year.

Freezing at home requires some preliminary preparation of your freezer. First check the thickness of the frost. It should not exceed a third of an inch (1 cm). If you have not defrosted the appliance for 6 months to a year, it’s time to do so. Indeed, a thick layer of frost restrains the freezer’s performance. Then, set the appliance’s temperature between -11 ° F and  -26 °F (-24 ° C and -32 ° C) for at least 8 hours before freezing the vegetables. Indeed, the vegetables’ water content will crystallize at lower temperatures.

Vegetables that can be stored in the freezer

The vegetables that can be stored in the freezer are numerous. Among these vegetables, we can include carrots, peas, beans, tomatoes, cauliflower or broccoli, leeks, herbs, spinach, courgettes, and cucumbers and many others. But before freezing, they will need to be cut, peeled, blanched, finely chopped, or simply left as is in some cases.

How to prepare vegetables for preservation in the freezer?

Most vegetables can be stored in the freezer. However, some are easier to preserve, or can be stored for longer time periods, than others  Preparing vegetables to be preserved usually varies from a variety of vegetables to another. For the frozen vegetables to be of good quality, it is obviously necessary to use fresh vegetables that are not too ripe. If you want to freeze vegetables from your vegetable garden, proceed to preservation right after harvest. That way, they will retain all their nutrients. Start by gently washing the vegetables in cold water and rinse them thoroughly. Depending on the vegetables, you can either peel them or cut them. For carrots, you must peel them, but not necessarily slice them. For tomatoes and peppers, it is unnecessary to peel them and you can leave them whole. Similarly, peas and beans can be kept as is. The stems on the back of leafy vegetables such as spinach, are to be removed. For other green vegetables, such as green beans and peas, remove the stems and tails. Broccoli and cauliflower are to be cut in pieces. Courgettes, cucumbers and eggplants should be sliced up and stored as such.

Blanching vegetables to be stored in the freezer

Almost all vegetables should be blanched before being frozen. Among the list of exceptions we can include tomatoes, peppers, courgettes and herbs. They are kept as is. Blanching consists of putting the vegetables in boiling water or steam for a few minutes. It slows down the action of bacteria and natural enzymes. Thus, the vegetables will not suffer a loss of taste or their nutritional qualities. However, the duration of bleaching is different for each type of vegetable and it must be respected to maintain the quality, texture and colour of the vegetable. For example, whole carrots and peas are blanched for 5 minutes. The bleaching time of cauliflower, green beans and spinach is 3 minutes. It is particularly advisable to put drops of lemon juice in boiling water when blanching cauliflower, in order to prevent them from darkening. After blanching, they must be cooled immediately under cold water, before being drained. Finally, they must be dried perfectly.

Freezing vegetables

Regardless of whether they were blanched or not, vegetables should be completely dry for packaging. If you use containers for storage, they must be completely airtight. Put the food in containers, taking care not to fill them to the brim.  Indeed, it is necessary to leave sufficient space between the lid and the vegetables for them to expand. If you use freezer bags, put in the vegetables, then remove the air. Keeping the air in the bags exposes the food to risks of oxidation. Afterwards, seal the freezer bags. Note the nature of the vegetable and the date of freezing on top of the boxes or bags. Install them in the freezer. After 24 hours, reduce the freezer’s temperature to  -0.5 ° F (-18 ° C) and maintain this temperature for the duration of preservation. It is very important to note that if you have thawed food, refrain absolutely from refreezing at the risk of exposing yourself to food poisoning.

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  3. Summer vegetables
  4. Winter vegetables

Published in Garden cooking by Alexander on 28 Jul 2011