Freezing Vegetables

The organisms that cause spoilage in foods are slowed and their processes finally stopped when the temperature is lowered enough. The food you freeze will maintain the same nutritive values it had when fresh. Set the freezer to maintain a temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

Theoretically, all your crops may be frozen, but not all are best kept this way. Generally, vegetables that you normally cook freeze well. Those with a high water content that are usually eaten raw do not; for example, carrots, celery, and bell peppers lose their crispness after thawing, but are still suitable for cooking. Handled quickly and with care, ears of corn, baby beans, and young peas are still superb after freezing—and it is easy to do. The key to success is in correct preparation and packaging before the food is put into the freezer. When freezing vegetables, use only very fresh, very young produce.

To prepare vegetables, wash, trim, and cut them up as you would for cooking, and then blanch them.

Blanching

Blanching is an important step; it destroys the enzymes that cause deterioration and helps maintain color, flavor, and vitamins. Most vegetables need from two to four minutes of blanching. There are two methods of blanching vegetables: steam blanching and immersion in boiling water. Steam blanching preserves water-soluble vitamins and minerals much better than immersion in boiling water, and is preferable.

To steam-blanch vegetables, bring 1 inch of water to boil in a large saucepan, place the prepared vegetables in a steaming basket above the water, and cover the pan tightly. When they are adequately steamed, in 2 to 4 minutes, remove the basket. They will air-dry quickly. Package them in freezer containers or heavy plastic bags, sealing them as airtight as possible. For directions and blanching times for specific vegetables, see Ohio State’s Freezing Vegetables.

Frozen vegetables will cook more rapidly than fresh ones because they were previously blanched. Most will be best cooked in a small amount of lightly salted water while they are still frozen. Frozen corn on the cob, however, is an exception—it is best thawed first. Most frozen vegetables keep well for 9 to 12 months.