Blanching Vegetables for Freezing

Finding that your CSA gives you too much of a good thing? Many gardeners and CSA customers avoid the veggie blahs by blanching and freezing their summer produce for easy preparation later in the year. Rapid heating and cooling of the vegetables preserves their nutrients and garden-fresh flavour, as well as preventing freezer burn.

Equipment:

  • Large pot

  • Large bowl (or a second pot)

  • Metal strainer or slotted spoon

  • Ziploc baggies (whatever size you would like to store your frozen veggies in)

  • 1 drinking straw

  • Lots of ice (at least 1 bag)

  • Tea towels or paper towel

  • Vegetables to be blanched

Step 1: Peel and chop the vegetables you wish to blanche into whatever dimensions you like. You will be blanching one type at a time - don't try to blanche different types of vegetables simultaneously (you can, however, blanche several different types one after the other, using the same pot).

Step 2: Boil 1 gallon of water per pound of vegetables in a large pot. If you happen to have a pot that has a strainer/colendar layer inside, use this one - it will make your task much easier.

Step 3: In a large bowl or another pot, prepare an ice bath containing several ice cubes (~1/4-1/2 bag of ice) and cold water. You will be using this to cool your vegetables quickly after you blanche them.

Step 4: Lower a batch of vegetables into the vigorously boiling water and cover your pot with a lid. The water should resume boiling within 1 minute; if it doesn't, you have too much vegetable or too little water. Start counting blanching time when the water returns to a boil.

Step 5: As soon as the recommended blanching time (visit Oranic Gardening for a list of blanching times for different vegetables) elapses, use either the pot's internal strainer or a handheld strainer/slotted spoon to quickly pull the vegetables out of the boiling water and plunge them into the ice water bath for the same length of time that you blanched them.

Step 6: Drain the vegetables thoroughly after cooling—extra moisture ruins the produce in the freezer.

Step 7: Portion the dry vegetables into ziploc baggies. Seal the baggies most of the way, then use a drinking straw to suck the excess air out of the baggies before completing the seal. This 'vacuum seals' your veggies.

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