Freezing is probably the most popular way of preserving broccoli and for a reason – it freezes well. Freezing broccoli allows you to enjoy it all year round. If you’d like to freeze broccoli on your own, this article will walk you through the whole process. Sounds interesting? If so, read along.
How to freeze broccoli
When selecting broccoli, choose firm heads with tight florets. Make sure florets didn’t turn yellow and the whole head doesn’t have any bruises or brown spots. When you plan to buy broccoli you know you’re going to freeze, try your best to buy it the same day you’re going to freeze it (ideally within few hours before freezing). That’s one of the important things to remember in order to successfully freeze broccoli: don’t let it sit in the fridge and wait but freeze it as soon as you can.
Image used under Creative Commons from puamelia
Cut the heads into small florets and discard woody stems. Smaller florets are easier to pack into a freezer bag and quicker to defrost, but the size of each floret should be appropriate to the dish you’re going to use it in. When done, it’s time to wash the florets to get rid of all dirt and bugs( if there are any). Prepare a pot of water, transfer the florets into the water and wash them quickly. If broccoli bugs are an issue in your area, add salt (1/4 cup of salt per gallon of water) to the water and keep the florets in the water for a longer period of time (like 30 minutes) to make sure the buys are dead. If you’ve soaked them in salty water, wash them quickly under running water. Drain the florets.
Bring a pot of water (you might add some salt to the water if you do that when you cook broccoli) to a boil and transfer the florets into the boiling water. The pot of boiling water doesn’t have to be large – you can work in small batches. Keep the florets in boiling water for about two minutes and then remove them from the water and quickly cool them down. Plunging into a sink or basin of cold water with some ice cubes will do the trick. After a couple of minutes remove broccoli from ice water and drain the florets thoroughly. Blanching helps with retaining color and texture of broccoli after freezing. You can omit this step if you really want, but when it comes to broccoli, most people recommend following it.
One thing to note – instead of adding the florets into boiling water for two minutes you might choose to steam them for about 5 minutes. The rest stays the same.
Pre-freezing, also called single layer freezing is to keep the florets into freezing into a large clump. If you’ll pre-freeze broccoli, you will be able to easily get a couple of florets from the freezer without any additional hassle (like smashing the frozen clump against the counter). To pre-freeze broccoli you need a cookie sheet. Take it and spread the florets in it in a single layer (make sure florets don’t touch one another) and put the baking sheet into the freezer until the veggies will freeze completely. Once done, remove the tray from the freezer – frozen florets are ready to be transferred into freezer bag.
Freezer bag is probably the best choice when it comes to freezing broccoli, but an airtight container should do a good job too (especially, if you’ve blanched and pre-frozen the florets). Transfer the vegetables into the bag/container, date and label and put into the freezer. If you’ve omitted pre-freezing, I suggest packaging broccoli into few smaller bags and then into a bigger one. This way you will be able to get a smaller amount of those green veggies without thawing all contents of the container.
Blanched and well packaged broccoli should stay in good shape for about a year in the freezer. Of course the quicker you decide to use it, the better its quality will be. If you plan to use this veggie in a cooked dish, you can add it directly to the dish. Otherwise thaw it in room temperature or in boiling water.
As you can see the whole process of freezing broccoli isn’t that complicated. Quite on the contrary – it’s simple and easy to perform. Good luck with freezing this green veggie.