Most vegetables can be frozen, and the procedure is very easy. Some vegetables need to be blanched (plunged into boiling water) and some don’t. Follow these instructions and you’ll never run out of vegetables.
I have found that when packing blanched vegetables in polythene bags, it is better to spread out the vegetables (not more than one centimeter in height) and freeze them flat. This way, they thaw out much faster, and if you need a smaller quantity, you can easily break off a piece, as required, without having to defrost the contents of a whole bag.
Artichokes (Globe): Buy when in season and choose large artichokes. Cut off stalk and remove outer leaves. Cut in half and remove the choke and cut the top of the leaves. Rub the artichoke halves with a lemon so that they don’t turn black and drop them in a basin of water. When you have cleaned all the artichokes, drop a few at the time in boiling water for 4 minutes. Let them cool and pack them tightly in labeled polythene bags. Storage time: 12 months. When you want to cook them you can plunge them in boiling water for 4 – 5 minutes, or depending on the recipe you can use them frozen.
Asparagus: Buy when in season and cheapest. Cut them to even lengths removing the hard bottom part of the stalk and blanch them for 4 minutes (thick spears), 2 minutes (thin spears). Cool, pack in labeled polythene bags and label. Storage time: 12 months. You can freeze the stalks as well separately and use them for soup.
Beans (Broad): Pick or buy when they are young and at their best. Blanch them for 2 minutes (small) or 3 minutes (medium). Cool and pack in labeled polythene bags. Storage time: 12 months.
Beans (French): Top and tail. You can cut them in pieces or leave them whole. Blanch them 2 minutes (cut) or 3 minutes (whole). Cool and pack them in labeled bags. Storage time: 12 months. Use them in cooking straight from the freezer.
Beans (Runner): String, top and tail. You can cut them in pieces and blanch them 2 minutes. Cool and pack in labeled bags. Storage time: 12 months. Use them in cooking straight from the freezer.
Beetroot: Pick them, or buy them when they are about the size of a golf ball. Wash and trim them and boil them in salted water until just tender. Peel, cool and pack in labeled polythene bags. If using larger beetroots, slice them before packing. Storage time: 6 – 8 months. Thaw in refrigerator 2 – 6 hours according to the size of the pack.
Broccoli: The heads should be compact with tender stalks. Remove the outer leaves and trim any woody stems. Blanch them 1 minute for thin stems, or 2 minutes for thick stems. Cool and pack in labeled polythene containers. Storage time: 12 months. To cook, you can plunge frozen in boiling, lightly salted water for 5 – 8 minutes. If you wish to use the broccoli in soups, you can boil the stems for 5 minutes longer and then mash them. Cool and pack in labeled polythene bags. Put a rather small quantity (about 5 tablespoonfuls), lay the bags down flat and spread the broccoli until you have a sort of thin square and freeze flat. This will help you to even bread of a piece of the mashed broccoli to use in soup, without having to use the whole ‘slab’.
Brussels Sprouts: If you buy them in bulk, you should choose button ones. Trim, wash and blanch for 1 ½ minutes the small ones, 3 minutes for medium. Cool and pack in labeled polythene bags. Storage time: 12 months. To cook, you can plunge them in boiling salted water for 5 – 8 minutes.
Carrots: If possible, buy very small ones, as they freeze well whole. Scrub the small ones and scrape the larger carrots, and grade them according to size. Slice or dice large carrots. Blanch them 3 minutes the small carrots, and 4 minutes thick slices. Cool and pack in labeled polythene bags.
Cauliflower: When buying cauliflower for freezing, buy only compact and white cauliflowers. Wash the cauliflower and break it up into florets. Blanch 2 minutes, cool and pack thinly in labeled polythene bags. Storage time: 12 months. When you wish to use them, plunge them frozen in salted water for 5-8 minutes.
Celery: Wash the celery and spin dry it very well. Chop it up and pack in labeled polythene bags.
Next week: More tips for freezing vegetables.