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How to Freeze Cabbage


Think you can't freeze fresh cabbage? Think again! Freezing fresh cabbage when it's in season is a great way to preserve this tasty Brassica vegetable and to ensure you can enjoy the wonderful flavor and health benefits of cabbage all year long. But before you freeze cabbage, you should know that frozen cabbage doesn't have the same firm texture as its fresh counterpart. That wonderful crunch that makes raw cabbage the perfect ingredient for slaws and salads simply disappears when cabbage freezes. Therefore, frozen cabbage is best used in cooked applications (think soups, stews and casseroles). Read on for detailed instructions on how to blanch and freeze fresh cabbage.

How to Blanch Cabbage Before Freezing

If you plan to store cabbage in the freezer for several months, it is best to blanch it quickly before putting it in the freezer. Blanching, or exposing fresh produce to boiling water (or steam) for a brief period, inhibits the action of enzymes that make foods go bad and helps preserve the color and flavor of frozen vegetables. After blanching, the food is shocked with very cold water to stop the cooking process. Here's how to blanch cabbage before freezing it:

  1. Select fresh heads and trim the outer leaves. Cut the cabbage into coarse shreds or thin wedges.
  2. Get a large kettle of water boiling. In the meantime, prepare an ice water bath by filling a large bowl with ice cubes and water. Place the bath near the stove.
  3. Blanch the cabbage in the boiling water for 1 ½ minutes.
  4. Cool the blanched cabbage instantly by throwing it into the ice-water bath and leaving it there for 1 ½ minutes. Then, drain thoroughly.

When boiling and cooling cabbage prior to freezing, it is important to use a lot of water, and if necessary, boil and cool the cabbage in batches. By using plenty of water relative to the amount of cabbage you ensure that the water will quickly return to a boil after you toss the cabbage into the boiling water, and the water temperature in the ice-water bath will stay low enough when you throw in the blanched cabbage.

How to Freeze Blanched Cabbage

After blanching and chilling the cabbage, some people simply toss the cabbage pieces into freezer bags or containers, removing as much air as possible, and then stash them in the freezer. This method is fine if you freeze the cabbage in meal-sized portions suitable for your family. However, if you want to be able to quickly grab a smaller amount without having to defrost the entire batch, this method does not really work. When simply tossed into freezer bags or containers, blanched cabbage pieces will stick together in the freezer, and you will have to pry the pieces apart when you need to grab just a handful. The good news is that this problem is easily solved by freezing the individual pieces separately (usually spread out on a baking sheet), and only then packing the cabbage in airtight containers or freezer bags for actual storage. If you use this method, the cabbage pieces will freeze loosely, and you will be able to scoop out just a few pieces from the freezer. Here's a detailed step-by-step on how to freeze cabbage using this method:

  1. Arrange blanched cabbage shreds or wedges in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a baking mat that's freezer-safe.
  2. Place the sheet in the freezer and leave it there overnight.
  3. Next day, remove the sheet from the freezer. Loosen the frozen cabbage shreds or wedges with a spatula, and divide into heavy-duty freezer bags.
  4. Remove as much air as possible from the bags, and seal. (Tip: try using a simple plastic straw to suck out the air.)
  5. Label and date the bags, and put them in the freezer.
  6. Remove frozen cabbage shreds or wedges from the freezer as needed for cooking.

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