How to Freeze Broccoli

Telling my kids to eat their vegetables is like trying to baptize a cat around here.  But…there is one mighty green giant that they LOVE to eat and many times ask for more!  BROCCOLI!  The hubs can be worse than the kids when it comes to vegetables but will eat broccoli if it’s smothered in cheese.  So now that broccoli is in season, I’m finding great deals at the grocery store and taking the opportunity to stock up on one of our favorites around here.   If your trying to be frugal, I found $.0 .99 lb. is a great buy and a frugal way to stock the freezer!  Here’s how you do it!

Broccoli

First, you need broccoli that are FRESH and crisp. Choosing firm heads with small, tight florets will contribute immensely to the success of your final product. Don’t let broccoli sit in the refrigerator, try to find time to perserve withing hours of when you plan to cook and freeze them.  The frozen florets can be tossed directly into stir-fries, added to pastas or soups, or just steamed on their own. Once you’ve found your broccoli, go ahead and rinse them!

Broccoli 2

Next, Separate into Florets and bring a large pot of water to a boil while your preparing the broccoli. You will need it later for blanching. Split lengthwise so flowerets are no more than 1 1/2 inches across.  Remove leaves and woody portions.  Seperate the heads into convenient-size. Note: Some recommend soaking broccoli in salt water ( 1/4 cup salt/gallon of water) for 30 minutes to remove bugs. I don’t do this but it may be a step you want to do.Broccoli 3Then get the pot of boiling water ready (about 2/3 filled) and a LARGE bowl with ice and cold water.  The picture above shows my set up for the blanching process. Note: All fruits and vegetables contain enzymes and bacteria that, over time, break down the destroy nutrients and change the color, flavor, and texture of food during frozen storage. broccoli requires a brief heat treatment, called blanching, in boiling water or steam, to destroy the enzymes before freezing. Blanching times for broccoli is 3 minutes (or blanch with steam for 5 minutes) – the duration is just long enough to stop the action of the enzymes and kill the bacteria.

Begin counting the blanching time as soon as you place the broccoli in the boiling water. Cover the pot and boil at a high temperature for the required length of time. You may use the same blanching water several times (up to 5). Be sure to add more hot water from the tap from time to time to keep the water level at the required height.

Broccoli 4After vegetables are blanched, cool them quickly to prevent overcooking. Plunge the broccoli into a large quantity of ice-cold water (I keep adding more ice to it). A good rule of thumb: Cool for the same amount of time as the blanch step. For instance, if you blanch sweet broccoli for 3 minutes, then cool in ice water for at least 3 minutes.  Drain thoroughly. Repeat blanching, cooling and draining steps with all the remaining broccoli. Broccoli 5When broccoli is completely cooled and relatively dry, package into meal-sized portions in resealable bags. Portions will vary with families. I freeze roughly 2 cups per bag.  As best you can without squishing the greens, squeeze the air out of the bag and seal. Using a Sharpie, label with the date, and freeze as quickly as possible. If you have the option, freeze in a deep freeze over a refrigerator-top freezer. The faster the broccoli freezes, the smaller the ice crystals will be and the more appealing the broccoli’s texture will be when reconstituted.

How to serve: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. A large pot is key, as you will be adding a large frozen mass to the water, and you don’t want to lower the water temperature too much or you’ll end up with mushy broccoli.  Salt the water if you like and when it is at a fast boil, add the broccoli all at once. Keep the heat on high but do not cover pot as the broccoli can turn brown.  Cook for one minute (or to taste), then remove with a slotted spoon. Drain and serve. You can also steam the broccoli, if you like.

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