Blanching is the process of placing fresh vegetables in boiling water or steam for a very short time amount of time to "seal in freshness".
This process is a must if you desire to freeze your produce. By not blanching your vegetables you are loosing texture, color and flavor. Blanching not only cleans the vegetable but helps it to not to loose deliciously healthy vitamins and minerals.
The best way to prepare your vegetables for freezing is to use the boiling water method. You can use a blancher or large saucepan with a wire basket to fit in the pot or large slotted spoon. Personally, I use a large pot and a wok spoon.
Boiling Water Blanching:
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Prepare your vegetables by chopping or slicing.
- Place approximately 1 pound of the same vegetables into the blanching basket.
- Place vegetables into the boiling water for the recommended branching time.
- Return the water to a boil as quick as possible.
- Start your blanching time as soon as the water returns to a boil.
- Remove the vegetables from the boiling water when the blanching time is completed with a wire stainer.
- Place the blanched vegetables into a large bowl of ice cold water, 60ºF or below. This stops the cooking process.
- Once the vegetables have cooled, you can drain the ice cold water.
- Label your freezer-grade plastic zipper bags with name of the vegetables and the date.
- Place blanched vegetables in plastic bag. Try to squeeze out as much air as possible.
- Freeze your bag laying flat, to maximize your freezer space.
Per Nation Center for Home Preservation, blanching the vegetables for the recommended times below is important to preserve your harvest. If you don't blanch long enough, this can stimulate the enzymes in the vegetable to accelerate ripening. If you blanch too long, the vegetables can loose color, flavor, vitamins and minerals.
|Asparagus||2 to 4|
|Beans- Snap, Green, or Wax||3|
|Beans- Lima, Butter, or Pinto||2 to 4|
|Brussel Sprouts (head)||3 to 5|
|Carrots||2 to 5|
|Corn (on-the-cob)||7 to 11|
|Mushrooms||3 to 5|
|Okra||3 to 4|
|Peas (edible pod)||1.5 to 3|
|Peppers-Sweet||2 to 3|
|Potatoes (new)||3 to 5|
|Turnips or Parsnips||2|
Note: Microwave streaming is not an effective method for blanching because the vegetables can cook unevenly and some enzymes may still be active and cause additional ripening.