Last Updated on May 9, 2021 by cmoarz
You may have heard it repeated time and again, be it from mom or grandma or someone else you know as a kid, “You shouldn’t freeze broccoli it will just turn to mush”. Well, it’s true, If you don’t freeze it properly it will turn to mush. Luckily there is actually a way to freeze broccoli without any real repercussions, And we’re going to tell you how.
In this article you will learn how to freeze broccoli with proper methods, you will learn how and why that works, what the full ramifications of not doing it properly are, and some helpful tips to make it even easier progress.
So with out further ado, let’s learn how to freeze some broccoli!
Use this link to skip to the bottom of the page where you will find exact instructions on how to freeze broccoli properly in TL;DR format
How To Freeze Broccoli
Step One: Only freeze the good stuff
It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise, but you really should only freeze the best specimen you can find. When it comes to broccoli, that means you want nice and tight heads that don’t feel too soft.
It also means you want the freshest heads of broccoli possible in order to maintain that freshness as long as possible. That is the point of freezing after all, So why bother freezing older broccoli just to be disappointed when it comes time to make that mid-winter broccoli soup?
So with that said, If you want the best, toss the broccoli with open heads away. And by that, I mean in a soup, not in the garbage can. It’s still good obviously – It’s just not perfect! Eat that stuff fresh, it’s better that way.
Step Two: Wash it!
Do you know who loves broccoli more than you? Insects. Specifically caterpillars and other little worms. For the sake of the article, we’re going to assume you don’t want a bit of extra protein with your broccoli, so you defiantly want to give these a good wash and then soak them in brine water for a solid 40 minutes.
To make the brine, simply add 4 teaspoons of kosher salt for every 1 gallon of water you need to use.
If you are still a bit paranoid about worms that might be residing in your broccoli you can pull the heads apart and inspect each one.
This is really only a concern if you are growing your own broccoli, however, and storebought veg is far less likely to contain any nasties like that!
Step Three: It’s time to start blanching
Click here if you would like to know more about blanching and why it’s important.
with blanching you have a couple options you can use. Boiling in water or using a steamer.
Boiling will take 3 minutes at a rapid boil, and steaming will take 5 minutes. This is the most important step when learning how to freeze broccoli. Blanching locks in the flavor and color as well as stop it from becoming mushy and soft when thawed after being frozen.
Step Four: Dunk it in ice cold water
Have a nice bowl of ice-cold water on standby for when the blanching process is finished. You will need to dunk them into the cold water for a few minutes to really put a stop to that cooking process.
If you don’t the broccoli will continue to cook a bit from residual heat, causing it to become even softer than the desired outcome.
In this step you will also want to dry off your broccoli the best you can, using a towel or paper towels. Don’t take your time with this step though, You’re on the clock now. You really need to get these in the freeze soon!
Step Five: Freezing Time!
There are a few ways you can go about this. My favorite is to freeze them individually on a cookie sheet before putting them into an airtight container or bag. This prevents them from sticking together and freezing into one giant clump.
So when it comes time to use your frozen veg it becomes far more convenient than trying to thaw a giant block of broccoli for which you only needed a handful!
You can use simple ziplock bags, airtight Rubbermaid containers, Or you can use a bag sealer. I recommend a bag sealer if you’ve got one as the lack of air and the nice seal will keep it fresh for a very long time compared to a loose pack in a bag or container.
Blanching and why it’s important
When it comes to freezing things like vegetables, you will find they just don’t turn out right unless you blanch them. So how does that work? It has to do with something called enzymes.
Enzymes are part of everything in the world, from human to your cat to the vegetable your trying to freeze.
The whole purpose of freezing, and why we do it, is to slow those enzymes down before they have a chance to break down the organic matter they are attached to. However, freezing does just that, slows them down. It doesn’t stop them completely.
That’s where blanching comes in. The process of cooking and then submerging in very cold water to stop that cooking halts enzymes in their tracks which allows the food to freeze properly without breaking down inside your freeze before you’ve had a chance to use them.
So why is it only vegetables and some fruit that require blanching and not meat or fish? It’s simple, Meat and fish are acidic enough to help prevent that degradation process in the freezer, While vegetables lack those acidic levels.
It’s important to note however that blanching will not stop freezer burn, and you will need to take special precautions to prevent that. That’s simply called sublimation, where the crystallized water slowly evaporates causing burn and dryness.
How to freeze broccoli tl;dr
In a hurry? No problem. Here are the instructions without the fluff
- Choose the highest quality plants to freeze, tight heads, and firm to touch. Use the lesser quality for something else.
- Give it a good wash, If it’s not store-bought, soak it in brine for 40 minutes. 1 gallon of water + 4 teaspoons of kosher salt
- Blanch it for 3 minutes in boiling water or 5 in steam
- Dunk blanched vegetables into cold water for the same amount of time it was cooked for (3 or 5 minutes)
- Freeze individual on cookie sheets, then bag in airtight bag or containers or use a food saver. This prevents clumping.
And that’s it!
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