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How to Freeze Vegetables - A step by step Guide to Freezing Vegetables from N-Z
Benefits of Eating Vegetables
Fruits and veggies contain essential vitamins, nutrients, minerals, and fiber that help the human body proect you from ailments and diseases. Incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet and reducing higher calorie foods, can also promote and help sustain healthy weight loss.
But, how are you supposed to each vegetables all year round, when they may not be available in your area or the growing season is short? The answer is to freeze your vegetables. The majority of vegetables can be frozen for 6-12 months, long enough to cover the off season until they become available again.
By freezing your vegetables, you not only guarantee having the benefits of vegetables year round, but you also can save money on your grocery bill. Many grocery stores still offer the main vegetables year round, but you pay a premium in the off season. Increase your health, and reduce your debt by freezing. Below is just a small sample of the different types of vegetables you can freeze and how to do it.
For a list of food freezing do's and don'ts, click here.
Food Freezing Terms and Techniques
Blanching is a simple technique used in cooking or food preservation to keep vegetables crisp and tender. It also destroys the enzymes that would normally cause the vegetables to deteriorate much faster. The vegetables are boiled in water very briefly, then immediately chilled in ice water, to cool them back down quickly.
Freezer burn is something that occurs to frozen food when it has become damaged by dehydration and oxidation, generally due to air reaching the food.
Head space is referred to as the gap left between the top of liquid or semi-liquid foods and the rim of the container or bag they are being frozen in. It is important to leave this gap with liquids because they will expand when frozen.
How to Freeze Okra and other Vegetables
How to Freeze Nopal -type of cactus (1-2 months): Select firm, healthy leaves, with good color. Remove spines and peel. Package and freeze.
How to Freeze Okra (10-12 months): Select small pods, with healthy color. Trim off the stalks but don’t cut into the pod. Blanch for 1-2 minutes. Drain, plunge into ice water bath until cool. Drain, dry, and package.
How to Freeze Peas (10-12 months): Shell the peas. Blanch for 1 minute. Drain, plunge into ice water bath until cool. Drain, dry, and package.
How to Freeze Quinoa (2-4 months): Must be cooked first. Rinse quinoa, boil in water or vegetable/beef stock for 15 minutes. Let stand 3-4 minutes. Package in glass/plastic container and freeze.
For additional tips on how to freeze food safely, visit the USDA's Food Safety website for food safety fact sheets.
How to Freeze Rhubarb and other Vegetables
How to Freeze Rhubarb (10-12 months): Select firm health stalks with pink or green skin. Trim ends and cut into short lengths (3-4 inches). Dry Freeze: Pack in bags and freeze unsweetened. Sweet Freeze: Blanch for 1 minute. Drain, plunge into ice water bath until cool. Drain, dry, and package with syrup (sugar & water) in container.
How to Freeze Spinach (10-12 months): Select young leaves with good coloring. Remove any ruffage and rinse well in cold water. Blanch for 2 minute. Drain, squeeze as much moisture out as possible, and pat dry. Package whole or snipped into pieces.
How to Freeze Turnips (10-12 months): Select small turnips. Peel and leave whole or cut in half. Blanch for 2-3 minutes. Drain, plunge into ice water bath until cool. Drain, dry, and package.
How to Freeze Udo (2-4 months): Best if frozen in soups but can be frozen cooked. Select firm stalks. Trim ends, peel, and cut into pieces (3-4 inches). Blanch for 2-3 minutes. Drain, plunge into ice water bath until cool. Drain, dry, and package.
Can you Freeze Onions and other Vegetables?
How to Freeze Vidalia Onion (4-6 months): Raw onions do not freeze well. Select firm onions with healthy skin. Trim roots, peel, and chop or slice. Blanch for 1-2 minutes. Drain, plunge into ice water bath until cool. Drain, dry, and package.
How to Freeze Water Chestnuts (4-6 months): Select firm, hard-shelled tubers that are not bruised. Can be frozen raw or cooked. Raw: Rinse, peel or leave unpeeled. Drain, dry, and package. Cooked: Peel, then blanch for 2-3 minutes. Drain, plunge into ice water bath until cool. Drain, dry, and package.
How to Freeze Yam (10-12 months): Peel and cut into quarters or dice into one inch cubes. Blanch for 2-3 minutes based on size of pieces. Drain, plunge into ice water bath until cool. Drain, dry, and package.
How to Freeze Zucchini (10-12 months): Select smaller size zucchini, with shiny, healthy colored skin. Avoid those with bruises. Trim the ends and cut into slices or 3-4 inch sticks. Blanch for 1 minute. Drain, plunge into ice water bath until cool. Drain, dry, and package.
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