Blanch Your Garden Vegetables before Freezing

There’s nothing like pulling out vegetables in the dead of winter that you grew yourself the summer before. But in order to get the nutritional benefits of those vegetables you must blanch your garden vegetables before freezing.

Blanching vegetables freshly harvested from your garden stops the enzyme action that causes loss of flavor, color, and texture. The process is easy and doesn’t take a lot of time. In fact, you don’t want to over-blanch vegetables. You also must be careful not to under blanch them. This actually causes the stimulation of those enzymes you’re trying to stop.

There are three methods for blanching; water, steam, and by microwave. I don’t ever use the microwave for blanching because it may not stop the action of all the enzymes.

Blanch

To water blanch – Bring one gallon water per pound of prepared (rinsed, trimmed, etc.) vegetables to a vigorous boil. Put the vegetables into the water or put them in a blanching basket if you have one. Place a lid on the pot or blancher. The water should return to boiling within 1 minute. If it does not you are adding too many of the vegetables for the amount of boiling water. Start counting blanching time as soon as the water returns to a boil. Boil for the time given in the directions for the vegetable you are freezing.

 

To steam blanch – Heating in steam is recommended for a few vegetables. Broccoli, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and winter squash, can be steamed or boiled to blanch. Steam blanching takes about 11/2 times longer than water blanching. Use a pot with a tight lid and a basket that holds the food at least three inches above the bottom of the pot. Put about two inches of water in the pot and bring the water to a boil.

Put the vegetables in the basket in a single layer. You want the steam to reach all of the vegetables quickly and evenly. Cover the pot and begin counting the steaming time as soon as the lid is on.

As soon as blanching is complete, using either method, vegetables should be shocked in a large amount of ice cold water to stop the vegetable from cooking. Change the water frequently or use cold running water or ice water. About one pound of ice for each pound of vegetable is needed if you use ice water. Cooling vegetables should take the same amount of time as blanching. If the vegetable still seems warm the water you are shocking it in is not cold enough.

When the vegetables have been cooled sufficiently, drain them thoroughly. Extra moisture can cause a loss of quality when vegetables are frozen.
Thanks to the National Center for Home Food Preservation for this handy chart of blanching times. All times shown are for water blanching unless indicated in the chart.

 

Blanching Times*

Vegetable Blanching Time
(minutes)
Artichoke-Globe
(Hearts)
7
Artichoke-Jerusalem 3-5
Asparagus
Small Stalk
Medium Stalk
Large Stalk
2
3
4
Beans-Snap, Green, or Wax 3
Beans-Lima, Butter, or Pinto
Small
Medium
Large
2
3
4
Beets cook
Broccoli
(flowerets 11/2 inches across)
Steamed
3
5
Brussel Sprouts
Small Heads
Medium Heads
Large Heads

3
4
5

Cabbage or Chinese Cabbage
(shredded)
1 1/2
Carrots
Small
Diced, Sliced or Lengthwise Strips
5
2
Cauliflower
(flowerets, 1 inch across)
3
Celery 3
Corn
Corn-on-the-cob
Small Ears
Medium Ears
Large Ears
Whole Kernel or Cream Style
(ears blanched before cutting corn from cob)

7
9
11

4

Eggplant 4
Greens
Collards
All Other
3
2
Kohlrabi
Whole
Cubes
3
1
Mushrooms
Whole (steamed)
Buttons or Quarters (steamed)
Slices steamed)
5
3 1/2
3
Okra
Small Pods
Large Pods
3
4
Onions
(blanch until center is heated)
Rings
3-7
10-15 seconds
Peas-Edible Pod 1 1/2-3
Peas-Field (blackeye) 2
Peas-Green 1 1/2
Peppers-Sweet
Halves
Strips or Rings
3
2
Potatoes-Irish (New) 3-5
Pumpkin cook
Rutabagas 3
Soybeans-Green 5
Squash-Chayote 2
Squash-Summer 3
Squash-Winter cook
Sweet Potatoes cook
Turnips or Parsnips
Cubes
2

 

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