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How to Freeze Romanesco (aka Broccoflower)

Romanesco Broccoflower

Also known as Romanesque cauliflower or broccoflower, romanesco broccoli has a cone-shaped head which is comprised of bright green florets that look like miniature Christmas trees. With its striking appearance and mild broccoli-like flavor, romanesco makes a great ingredient for all sorts of dishes. So, next time you see fresh romanesco at a local farmers' market, don't hesitate to buy a couple of heads! There are plenty of romanesco recipes on the Internet, and the great thing is that romanesco freezes well, provided that you blanch it first, so you don't have to use it up all at once. Below, you'll find instructions on how to blanch and freeze romanesco for later use.

How to Blanch Romanesco

To ensure that your romanesco stays good in the freezer, it is best to blanch it quickly before freezing. Blanching, or scalding vegetables in boiling water (or steam) for a brief period, inhibits the action of enzymes and bacteria that cause romanesco and other Brassica vegetables to develop off-flavors and lose color and nutrients when stored in the freezer for a longer period. After this step, the romanesco is quickly cooled by immersion in very cold water. Note that when blanching and cooling romanesco, you'll want to use big pots and bowls, and plenty of water. If you are processing a large amount of romanesco, it is best to work in batches. Here's a detailed step-by-step on how to blanch romanesco aka broccoflower:

  1. Pick a head that is bright in color and that feels heavy for its size.
  2. Using a paring knife, cut the romanesco into 1-inch pieces.
  3. Blanch the pieces in boiling water for 3 minutes or in steam for 4 ½ minutes.
  4. Cool the blanched romanesco promptly by submerging the pieces in a large bowl that contains cold water and ice cubes. Again, you'
  5. Remove the romanesco from the ice-water bath after 3 to 4 minutes, and drain thoroughly.

How to Freeze Romanesco

After blanching and chilling the romanesco, people often throw the romanesco florets directly into freezer bags or containers, and then stash them in the freezer. However, this method comes with a caveat: the romanesco florets tend to fuse together in the freezer if just tossed into a freezer bag or container, and you won't be able to grab just a handful of frozen romanesco pieces from a freezer bag or container later on.

Luckily, this problem is easy to fix by arranging the blanched romanesco florets in a single layer on a cookie sheet, and allowing them to freeze in individual pieces on the sheet before transferring them to freezer bags or containers for actual storage. If you pre-freeze the romanesco florets this way, they'll freeze loosely, won't fuse together, and you can later take out only what is needed. Here's how to use the "cookie sheet" method to freeze romanesco:

  1. Lay the blanched, drained and cooled romanesco florets flat on a parchment-lined cookie sheet side by side, making sure they aren't touching.
  2. Create a level area in your freezer to fit the cookie sheet, and place the sheet in the freezer.
  3. Once the romanesco florets are frozen solid, remove the sheet from the freezer and transfer the romanesco to airtight freezer bags or containers (glass freezer containers are great if you don't like plastic).
  4. Label and date the bags or containers, and return the romanesco to the freezer for storage.

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