FOODS     TOOLS     ABOUT        

How to Blanch and Freeze Broccoli

Freezing is a great way to preserve fresh broccoli from your garden or a local farmers' market when this healthy Brassica vegetable is in season. By freezing it at home, you'll be able to enjoy the wonderful health benefits of broccoli all year long, and you'll know exactly where your frozen broccoli comes from, which is rarely the case with the frozen broccoli you can buy in supermarkets. Here's how to blanch fresh broccoli before freezing and how to use the "baking sheet method" to freeze your blanched broccoli:

How to Blanch Fresh Broccoli Before Freezing

Freezing Broccoli

If you want to be able to take out nutrient-rich broccoli florets from your freezer later on, it is a good idea to blanch them before freezing, especially if you plan to store them in the freezer for a longer period of time. Blanching, or quickly boiling or steaming food, destroys enzymes that make foods go bad and helps prevent loss of flavor, color and nutrients in frozen vegetables. If you do not blanch broccoli before freezing, it will quickly lose its fresh flavor, crisp texture and beautiful green color.

Boil Blanching Broccoli: The easiest way to blanch broccoli is to bring a large pot of water to a boil, plunge trimmed and rinsed 1½-inch broccoli florets and sliced stems into the boiling water for 3 minutes, and drain into a colander. If you are using a pot that has drainage holes in the lid, you won't need a colander as you can drain the broccoli directly from the pot. After blanching and draining, the broccoli needs to be cooled quickly to stop any carryover cooking. To do this, immerse the broccoli florets and stems in a large bowl filled with water and ice, and let them chill in the ice water bath for 3 minutes. Then, drain thoroughly. Note that when boil blanching and chilling broccoli, it is important to use a lot of water relative to the amount of broccoli so that the water temperature stays fairly stable when you throw the broccoli in.

Steam Blanching Broccoli: If you have a steamer basket, you can also steam blanch broccoli. This is a great way to prepare broccoli for the freezer because it provides more protection against vitamin loss than blanching in boiling water. To steam blanch broccoli, put about 2 inches of water in the bottom of your steamer pot, insert the steamer basket, and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Bring the water to a boil, then place an even layer of trimmed and rinsed 1½-inch broccoli florets and sliced stems in the basket. Cover, and blanch the broccoli in the steam for 4½ minutes. To stop the cooking process, transfer to a large bowl filled with water and ice, and let chill for 4½ minutes. Then, drain thoroughly.

How to Freeze Broccoli Florets (as Individual Pieces)

After the broccoli florets (and stems) have been blanched, chilled and drained, you can simply divide them into freezer bags or containers which you can then stash in your freezer. But, while this method is certainly quick, it is not necessarily the best way to freeze broccoli. If you toss the florets into a freezer bag or container right away, they will stick together, and you will have to chisel into a brick of frozen broccoli when you need to grab just a handful from a freezer bag or container.

This can, however, be easily remedied. Just grab a baking sheet that you can leave in your freezer for a few of hours, and freeze the broccoli florets in a single layer on the sheet before packing them into freezer bags or containers. This way, the broccoli florets freeze loosely, will not fuse together, and you can later grab only what is needed. Here's step by step guidance on how to freeze broccoli using this method:

  1. Line up the drained broccoli florets in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet, making sure to leave space between each piece.
  2. Pat the broccoli florets dry with a clean dish towel—this helps prevent big ice crystals from forming in the freezer.
  3. Clear some space in your freezer, and slide the entire baking sheet of broccoli inside for a couple of hours, or until the broccoli florets are thoroughly frozen.
  4. Take the sheet out of the freezer and gently lift the edges of the baking mat or parchment to dislodge the broccoli florets.
  5. Transfer the broccoli florets to freezer-safe bags or containers (glass freezer containers are great if you don't like plastic).
  6. Seal and label the bags or containers, and put the broccoli immediately back in the freezer. Properly frozen broccoli will generally keep for about 6 to 8 months in the freezer.

Sponsored Links / Ads