Freezing Vegetables A to Z

 

Here is some practical advice on preparing and freezing vegetables from Carolyn Humphries’ How to Freeze, which is packed with information on all aspects of freezing.


Blanching

Blanching is essential when preparing vegetables for freezing. It destroys enzymes that would otherwise cause the vegetables to deteriorate quickly. Blanching helps to keep their colour, texture and flavour and to retain their vitamin C content.

Prepare the vegetables. Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Plunge up to 450 g/1 lb vegetables at a time into the water. Bring back to the boil quickly and boil for the exact recommended time. Drain immediately and plunge the vegetables into a bowl of iced water to cool them as quickly as possible. As soon as they are cool, drain and pat dry on kitchen paper. Pack in polythene bags in convenient quantities.

Remove the air, seal, label and freeze.

Deep-freezing
Deep-freezing preserves food by reducing the temperature so that bacteria cannot grow and chemical changes are halted. However, freezing does not kill micro-organisms, it simply keeps them in suspended animation, so that as soon as the food is thawed, these processes start up again, and the food will deteriorate as quickly as before it was frozen. For this reason, food should be cooked and eaten as soon as possible after defrosting.

Your freezer should be kept at –18ºC/0ºF and food is fast-frozen at –25 to –30ºC/–13 to –22ºF. Commercially deep-frozen foods are blast-frozen at temperatures as low as –73ºC/–100ºF.

Dry-freezing

This is a very quick way of preserving fruit or vegetables without adding liquid. Prepare the fruit or vegetables, then pack in rigid containers. Fruits can be layered with sugar, if appropriate. Remove the air, seal the containers, label and freeze.

Open-freezing
Open-freezing prevents the top of the food – such as a sauce topping on cooked dishes like lasagne or an iced (frosted) cake – being damaged by wrappers. It may also be used when you want frozen food to be free-flowing.

Made-up dishes: Simply freeze, unwrapped, in the container in which they were cooked. The dish may be lined with foil first so that it can be removed once frozen. When firm, remove the cooking dish, if liked, wrap the food securely in foil or a polythene bag, remove the air, seal, label and return to the freezer.

Free-flow foods: This is suitable for small fruits, vegetables, grated cheese, etc. Spread the food out in a single layer on a baking (cookie) sheet. Place in the freezer until firm. Tip into rigid containers or polythene bags. Remove the air, seal, label and return to the freezer.
    
Purée-freezing

Many fruit and vegetables can be puréed for freezing. This takes up less space and is ideal for those that would need puréeing before use in made-up dishes or sauces.
Cook, if necessary. Juicy fruits can be puréed raw. Purée in a blender or food processor, then pass through a sieve (strainer), if necessary, to remove any seeds or strings. Sweeten the purée with sugar, if appropriate. Other flavourings (e.g. cinnamon in fruits) should be added when the purée has defrosted. Pack in convenient quantities in rigid containers, leaving 2.5 cm/1 in headspace. Remove the air, seal, label and freeze.

Click on your chosen vegetable to see the freezing instructions.

Click here to buy this handy reference book packed with everything you need to know about freezing your home-grown produce - and a lot more besides!