How to Blanch & Store Food

How to Blanch & Store Food thumbnail
Preserve your beautiful harvest by blanching and freezing your vegetables.

Freezing is a great way to preserve and store food. Frozen foods retain their fresh flavor, and they're convenient to use when needed. Freezing is also the least time-consuming and easiest method of preserving foods. In order to prepare vegetables for freezing, the action of the enzymes must be stopped. Enzymes cause vegetables to grow and ripen, but if this enzyme action is not stopped, the food will continue to ripen after it's frozen. Blanching, which is the scalding of vegetables in steam or boiling water, is the method used to stop this enzyme action.

Instructions

    • 1

      Assemble your freezer containers. Containers should be durable, easy to seal, and moisture-resistant. Suitable containers include flexible freezer bags, plastic freezer containers, and glass canning jars. Regular glass jars that are not intended for home canning are not strong enough to withstand freezing temperatures, andmay break. If you use canning jars, use wide-mouth jars because it's easier to remove frozen foods from them than from their narrow-mouth counterparts.

    • 2

      Prepare the vegetables for freezing. If you are preparing vegetables that you raised yourself, harvest them early in the morning, and plan on freezing them as soon as possible. Wash your vegetables thoroughly with cold water, use a vegetable brush to remove all traces of dirt. Sort the vegetables according to size on your counter.

    • 3

      Heat a large pot of water until it boils. Place about 1 pound of vegetables in a metal wire basket that fits inside the pot. Lower the basket until the vegetables are completely submerged in the water. When the water starts boiling again, start your timer. The amount of blanching time depends on the vegetable. Consult the table at uga.edu/nchfp/how/freeze/blanching.html to find out the correct blanching time for your vegetables. The amount of time varies significantly from vegetable to vegetable. For example, artichokes require 7 minutes in boiling water, while green peas require only 1 1/2 minutes. When the time is up, carefully pull the wire basket out of the boiling water.

    • 4

      Cool vegetables as soon as possible after removing them from the boiling water. Getting them to cool quickly stops the cooking process, which keeps them tasting fresh. Plunge the basket of vegetables into a large quantity of cold water. You can do this by filling a very clean sink with cold water, or you can fill a large bowl with water. Whether you use a sink or a bowl, drop a handful of ice into the water before adding the vegetables. Allow the vegetables to remain in the cold water for the same amount of time they were in the boiling water.

    • 5

      Drain the vegetables, and then lay them out on a large tray or cookie sheet. Give them enough room that they are not touching one another. Place the tray in the freezer, and give them a 2 hours to freeze firmly.

    • 6

      Remove the tray from the freezer and sort the vegetables, and place them into prepared containers. Label your containers with the type of food and the date they were frozen. Make sure your freezer is set at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Your these conditions.

Tips & Warnings

  • Select high quality vegetables to blanch and freeze, and avoid vegetables with defects.

  • Food thawed in the refrigerator is safe to refreeze, but the true texture will will be lost in the refreezing process.

  • Organize the food in your freezer into food groups. Put the oldest items toward the front and the newest items toward the back.

  • Keep your freezer full, as it will work more efficiently that way.

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References

  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

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