Category: Vegetables

Vegetables

Can You Freeze Yellow Squash?

Summer is in full swing and that means enjoying the bounty of the season, including yellow squash! Yellow squash is a type of gourd that’s often used in cooking. It’s best used in stews and soups because the vegetable adds richness to the broth. From the rind to the flesh, every part of the yellow squash can be eaten. Although yellow squash can be enjoyed all year long, how do you keep the vegetable for long-term storage? Can you freeze yellow squash?

As long as the gourd is prepped and packed properly, you can freeze yellow squash. That goes for fresh, blanched or cooked yellow squash! Yellow squash has an extremely short shelf life. It only keeps for a week in the fridge. That’s because yellow squash contains enzymes that break down quickly at room temperature.

Image used under Creative Commons from Dominique Pelletier

By freezing the vegetable, yellow squash could keep up to 3 months. However, we recommend consuming yellow squash as soon as possible for optimal flavor. Even when you freeze yellow squash, there’s no guarantee that the enzymes won’t break down and cause flavor or texture changes. Storing the gourd could also reduce its nutritional content.

There are two ways to prep yellow squash for freezing. You could either freeze the yellow squash uncooked or blanched. While it’s much easier to freeze yellow squash without cooking, blanching the vegetable will extend its shelf life. Here is a step-by-step guide on how can you freeze yellow squash:

How to Freeze Yellow squash?

If you’re freezing whole and uncooked yellow squash, we don’t recommend cutting the gourd into pieces prior to freezing. The rind will protect the yellow squash from freezer burn and preserve its natural texture and/or flavor.

To start, wash the yellow squash in running water. Remove any sticky part or residues then pat dry with paper towels. Get a large, heavy-duty resealable plastic bag and place the yellow squash inside. Squeeze as much air as you can before sealing and then write the storage date on the label. Stick in the freezer and you’re done.

If you’d like to blanch the yellow squash first prior to freezing, wash the gourd and pat dry with paper towels. On a cutting board, slice the ends of the yellow squash, about ¼ inch on both ends. Heat a pot of water on the stove over high then place the yellow squash inside and blanch for 3 minutes.

After 3 minutes of blanching, scoop the yellow squash out of the boiling water and into a bowl of ice water. This will stop the heat from cooking the yellow squash through. Leave the yellow squash completely submerged in ice water for 5 minutes or so. Drain the water using a colander and pat the yellow squash dry with paper towels. Finally, pack the yellow squash in a plastic resealable bag, squeezing out as much air as possible before sealing and sticking in the freezer.

Image used under Creative Commons from Quinn Dombrowski

How to Defrost Frozen Yellow Squash?

To thaw frozen yellow squash, just transfer the container from the freezer to the fridge. Leave the yellow squash to thaw for several hours to overnight. Do not defrost the gourd at room temperature. The drastic change in temperature will alter the texture of the yellow squash!

Slow defrosting is key to maintaining the yellow squash’s original flavor and texture. Once the yellow squash is soft enough to be cut, just slice it according to the desired cut and it’s ready for cooking. Reheating the yellow squash is not necessary unless the gourd has been cooked in stews or soups. Just add the thawed yellow squash in the middle of cooking.

Summary

Yellow squash may be a delicate vegetable to freeze but as long as you prep and pack the gourd right, it will last for months in the freezer! Now that you know how can you freeze yellow squash, why not keep a stock of this healthy vegetable for future meals?

Vegetables

Can You Freeze Jicama?

Looking for a great alternative to potatoes or starchy root crops? Give jicama a try! Jicama is a type of yam bean plant with an edible tuberous root. This plant originated in Mexico and South Africa and is often used in cooking.

Jicama’s fleshy root is crunchy and mild in flavor, similar to turnips. Its exterior is light brown or gray. As for the flavor, this vegetable has a sweet, nutty flavor and a crispy texture. Its crispiness is retained even when the vegetable is cooked briefly. Jicama can be eaten raw, added to salads, or cooked in stews. The flavor is so mild; it will not alter the flavor of the dish.

Image used under Creative Commons from spiralmushroom

Jicama is widely available in the US but you can buy this root crop in bulk. But can you freeze jicama? Jicama does surprisingly well in the freezer, unlike regular starchy roots! Fresh, uncut tubers will keep fresh in the fridge for up to two weeks. As long as you do not cut the vegetable into pieces, there’s no need to wrap jicama in tin foil or cling wrap to retain its freshness in the fridge.

However, once it is cut, you have to prep the vegetable prior to freezing. Although its root is crisp and white, it could turn soggy and yellowish once it’s left exposed to cold temperature. Exposure to moisture could also alter the flavor of jicama. It could even absorb fridge flavors when it’s not packed properly.

You can freeze jicama but this will change the texture of the root crop unless it’s frozen whole and uncut. If it’s cut, you can still freeze it but it will take on a softer texture once it’s been defrosted. Frozen jicamas could keep fresh in the freezer for up to 4 to 6 months.

Image used under Creative Commons from Forest and Kim Starr

One thing to keep in mind when wondering if can you freeze jicama is the moisture level of the vegetable prior to storage.

How to Freeze Jicama?

Jicama is extremely sensitive to moisture and once exposed to it, decay, discoloration, and texture loss will set in. As such, you need to keep the product as dry as possible prior to freezing. Below is a step by step guide on how can you freeze jicama.

Freezing Fresh Jicama

If you are simply chilling whole jicamas in the fridge, there’s no need to add protective wrapping as long as you plan to consume the root crops right away. But if you’re freezing whole jicamas, you will still need a protective wrapping to protect them from freezer burn or moisture loss. Before freezing, wrap each jicama in aluminum foil then stick them in the freezer.

Freezing Cut Jicama

For cut or shredded jicamas, use an airtight rigid plastic container to store the vegetables in the freezer. Start by patting the jicamas with a clean cloth or paper towels to absorb as much moisture as possible. You want the jicamas to be dry to the touch before freezing.

Once the jicamas are dry, place them in a plastic container and close the airtight lid. Do not overfill the container so the jicamas will freeze without bruising. Get a marker to add the storage date and label before sticking in the freezer.

Image used under Creative Commons from Eliazar Parra Cardenas

How to Defrost Jicama?

To defrost jicama, simply transfer the container from the freezer to the fridge. Leave the frozen jicama to defrost overnight then, it is ready to use. Do note that defrosted jicamas must be consumed right away because the changes in temperature will turn the tuber soggy.

Summary

Jicamas make a great ingredient for healthy dishes including and salads, barbecues. Now that you know how can you freeze jicama, you can store this diet-friendly tuber for future uses!

Vegetables

Can You Freeze Vegetables?

Most recipes require fresh vegetables but not all produce are available all season long so what to do? You can always freeze vegetables to ensure a steady supply of your favorite produce! Freezing vegetables properly will require more effort than simply sticking them in the freezer. Just like fruits, vegetables are extremely delicate and sticking them in the fridge haphazardly could cause bruising, which will inevitably lead to spoilage and waste.

Image used under Creative Commons from Hans Splinter

The key to perfect freezing is blanching your veggies. Blanching requires “shocking” the produce in hot water for a few seconds before bringing the temps down with cold water. When properly frozen, vegetables can keep in the freezer for up to 14 months. Continue reading below for the step-by-step guide:

How to Freeze Vegetables?

The proper way to freeze vegetables is to do so when they are fully ripened. The fact is, freezing will inhibit almost-ripe produce from ripening fully so you want to make sure the veggies are at the peak of ripeness before they are frozen.

Prepping the Vegetables

Once you picked out the vegetables you want to freeze, clean each one thoroughly under running water. Remove unwanted bits, including stems, grit, dirt, and trim the produce one by one. After cleaning your veg, slice them up into the desired size or intended use. Once prep is done, you can start blanching the vegetables.

Blanching the Vegetables

Blanching your produce prolongs freshness because it prevents wilting, kills bacteria, and slows down vitamin and mineral deterioration.

To blanch your veggies, bring a large pot of water to a boil and with a colander, place your veggies in and submerge in hot water for 1 minute. Blanch quickly so you don’t cook the produce! Remove the colander from the hot water and transfer the produce to a bowl of ice water. Drain the vegetables using table napkins and you’re ready to pack!

Packing the Vegetables for Freezing

To pack your veggies, you can either use a freezer-safe, rigid plastic container or glass jars. The type of container you’ll use will depend on the type of veggie you’re freezing. If you’re packing the veggies loosely, you can use a baking sheet for freezing, just make sure each produce has enough space in between. Stick the container in the freezer and you’re done!

How to Defrost Frozen Vegetables?

The best way to defrost frozen vegetables is to cook it directly even if they are frozen solid. To thaw vegetables, bring about ½ to 2/3 cup of water to a boil (per 16 ounces of frozen vegetables) over medium heat. Add the frozen veggies, cover with the lid, and occasionally separate the veggies as they cook. Cook until the veggies are tender.

For larger batches of frozen vegetables, you can run the packaging under cold water until completely thawed.

Image used under Creative Commons from Personal Creations

Summary

Freezing vegetables properly means you can keep seasonal produce in stock right at home. Now that you know how to freeze vegetables properly, you can store your favorite veggies for later use.

 

Vegetables

Can You Freeze Leeks?

Can you freeze leeks? Leeks are available all year round but if you bought this vegetable in bulk, you have to store the rest for later recipes. We do not recommend freezing leeks because this vegetable has a high water content but it can be done to avoid waste. This method can be used to store an excess supply of leeks although the greens could turn soggy once they’ve been defrosted.

Should You Freeze Leeks?

The freezing temperature could affect the texture of the leeks. This vegetable tends to secrete a clear, goopy liquid when cut, which is something to keep in mind if you are preparing this vegetable for freezing. If say, the texture is important to the dish, there is no way to restore leeks’ crunchy texture once they’ve been frozen. On the other hand, if you are freezing leeks for cooking, then the texture of the vegetable is not that important. When cooked, the consistency of frozen and fresh leeks is similar.

How to Freeze Leeks?

Choosing and Prepping the Leeks

Freezing will affect the overall quality of the vegetable so it makes sense to choose the best leeks you can get your hands on. Choose leeks with a vibrant color, firm stalks, and crisp, bruise-free leaves. The stalks of the leeks must be pliant yet firm, the bulb should be white. Avoid leeks that have browning ends or those that are wilting or yellowing.

Washing and drying leeks

After choosing the highest quality leeks you can find at your local supermarket, rinse the greens well with running water. Clean the stalks thoroughly and remove dirt and debris that are stuck in between the leaves.

Cutting leeks

After rinsing and cleaning the leeks, pat the vegetable dry with paper towel and cut the leeks to size. You can either slice the leeks into equal sizes or roughly chop them before freezing. Since the leeks will turn soggy once frozen and defrosted, cutting the greens when they’re still fresh is best.  After cutting the leeks to size, you are ready to pack the vegetable for freezing.

Flash Freezing the Leeks for Freezing

Flash freezing helps retain the nutrient value and aroma of the leeks. To prep the leeks for flash freezing, line a baking sheet with wax paper or aluminum foil.

Flash freezing leeks

Lay the leeks in a single layer, making sure none of the vegetable bits are touching each other. Stick the baking pan in the freezer and leave the leeks to freeze for about an hour or two.

Leeks transferred to freezer bag

While waiting for the leeks to freeze, prepare a freezer-safe, resealable plastic bag.

Leeks in sealed freezer bag

After an hour or two, take the leeks out of the freezer and place the frozen leeks into the resealable plastic bag.

Leeks go into freezer

Squeeze out as much air as you can before sealing. Write the storage date then store flat in the freezer.

Direct Freezing

If you want a fuss-free way to freeze leeks, you can simply freeze this vegetable directly. Just cut the leeks into the desired size then prepare a freezer-safe, resealable plastic bag.

Leeks in freezer bag

Place the cut leeks into the plastic bag then squeeze out as much air as you can before sealing. Write the storage date then store flat in the freezer. This method is best for short-term storage only.

Leeks in freezer

Blanching the Leeks for Freezing

Blanching the leaves is a great way to preserve the color of the leeks. This step is optional, though recommended.

Blanching leeks

Prepare a pot of boiling water and a bowl of ice water. Using a colander, submerge the cut leeks into the boiling water and blanch the greens for 1 to 2 minutes.

Drying leeks on paper towel

Once the leeks turn a bright green, take them out of the water and submerge them in ice water. Once chilled, lay the blanched leeks on a paper towel then pat dry. Prepare a resealable plastic bag for freezing.

Place the cut leeks into the plastic bag then squeeze out as much air as you can before sealing. Write the storage date then store flat in the freezer.

Shelf Life, Thawing, and Reheating Suggestions

When kept in the freezer, leeks will stay fresh for at least 3 months. However, since the veggie tends to break down fast after thawing, consume your supply as soon as possible.

Thawed leeks

To thaw the frozen leeks, just add the vegetable directly into the dish you are cooking. The heat will defrost the frozen vegetable almost instantly. However, if you are using the leeks for garnishing, you can thaw it by leaving a pack of frozen leeks on the kitchen counter. It should be ready to use after an hour.

Summary

Can you freeze leeks? While leeks are available all year round, you might want to stock up and freeze them from time to time. The freezing process is quite simple: wash, cut, blanch if needed, and freeze the leeks. Remember that freezing the leeks is only best if you are using it for cooked dishes. Just keep these storage tips in mind to retain the natural flavor and color of the leeks!

Vegetables

Can You Freeze Spaghetti Squash?

Can you freeze spaghetti squash? One of the most popular winter squashes found useful for replacing spaghetti is spaghetti squash. We often freeze spaghetti, but what about spaghetti squash?

Spaghetti squash has its name because when you bake it the texture of it changes and separates into spaghetti-like strands when you go to scoop it out. The strands are similar in size to spaghetti strands but do have a mushier texture that pasta.

The spaghetti squash is excellent at absorbing the flavor of any pasta sauce and seasonings you pair it with. That helps give it the similar flavor of a bowl of homemade pasta topped with sauce. It’s a healthier option than pasta to eat too.

Because of that, people ask if they can stock up on the squash and freeze it. No matter if it’s on sale at the grocery store, or harvested from the garden, the answer to that question is yes.

Red Curry Squash Spaghettini

Image used under Creative Commons from Jameson Fink

A couple of things to consider before freezing spaghetti squash. Always use firm and fresh spaghetti squash from the grocery store or from the garden. Make sure it’s washed well and cooked properly before freezing it so it holds its true flavor, texture, and color.

Never freeze cooked spaghetti squash leftovers that have been in the refrigerator for a few days. It increases your chances of receiving food poisoning when you go to defrost it and eat it. Below is our guide on how can you freeze spaghetti squash:

How to Freeze Spaghetti Squash?

Preparing the Spaghetti Squash

Before you can freeze spaghetti squash, you must first cook the squashes you have on hand. Make sure the squash is fresh, firm and ripe before cooking it and trying to freeze it. After, you must rinse the squash down with cool water to wash any debris, dirt, and bacteria away.

Next, slice the squash into halves and place them in a deep casserole dish with a bit of olive oil drizzled over them. After, you need to bake the squash in a 400-degree oven for about an hour or until fork tender.

Packing the Spaghetti Squash for Freezing

Then, you will remove the cooked squash from the oven and allow it to cool for about an hour. Once it is cool, you can fork it out of its skin into a bowl until you have an entire bowl full of spaghetti squash strands.

Then, you can take the spaghetti squash and scoop it into freezer containers. place the lids on tightly and freeze the squash for up to a year this way. Don’t leave spaghetti squash frozen longer than a year because the color, flavor, and texture of it will change drastically.

How to Defrost Spaghetti Squash?

The best way to defrost spaghetti squash is to take a container of it from the freezer and allow it to defrost in the refrigerator for about 12 hours. After, you can toss the spaghetti squash into a medium saucepan with your favorite pasta sauce and heat it up for about 5 minutes on medium heat.

Cooking it for longer will turn to mush and lose its spaghetti-like structure and texture. Serve it up as a delicious healthy meal that will provide your body with fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and enzymes.

Summary

Always use freshly cooked spaghetti squash for freezing purposes. Now that you know how can you freeze spaghetti squash, try this method to so you can always have it on hand!

Vegetables

Can You Freeze Jalapenos?

Can you freeze jalapenos? Freezing jalapenos to have them year round sounds really great, especially if you’re into hot and spicy Mexican and Spanish dishes, homemade salsas and mini-stuff pepper appetizers.

How to Freeze Jalapenos?

Picking them fresh during harvesting season and preserving them with the freezing method is an excellent way to make sure you have them year-round to use in all kinds of dishes. Below is a step by step guide on how can you freeze jalapenos:

Freezing Fresh Jalapenos

The best way to freeze jalapenos is by harvesting them fresh during picking season. Start by rinsing them off with cool water, slicing the tops off of them and slicing them up into little round circles. After, you take the slices, pack them into freezer bags, and store them away in the freezer until you are ready to use them up. Frozen jalapenos stay fresh this way for up to 2 years.

However, they do change in texture but will retain their flavor. Their texture slightly softens when you freeze them. This means frozen jalapenos are only good for making salsas, adding flavor to casserole dishes, chilies, and soups. You can also add jalapenos on top of nachos or for burger toppings. If you love the fresh crisp texture of jalapenos, there is no sense in freezing them. Instead, it is best to use them up as they are.

Jalapenos

Image used under Creative Commons from woodleywonderworks

Freezing Canned Jalapenos

If you open up a can of jalapenos and know you are not going to use them all, you can place the leftovers into freezer containers and freeze them for up to 3 months this way.

However, you must freeze them right after you open the can and not later on in order to prevent spoilage or contamination with bacteria. It is never wise to open a can of jalapenos, use some and store the rest in the refrigerator for a day or two and then decide to freeze the rest because this will just give you food poisoning when you go to eat them up.

Freezing Store-Bought Jalapenos

If there are freshly harvested jalapenos in your local grocery store or farm stand, you can grab a bunch and freeze them the same way you would freshly harvested jalapenos from a garden. However, you will want to wash them well to remove any pesticides, chemicals, and bacteria from them.

Freezing Bottled Jalapenos

If you have leftover jalapenos from a jar you just open you can pour the leftover jalapenos from the jar along with their liquid directly into a freezer container and freeze the peppers this way for up to 6 months. When you want to defrost them, simply place the container in the refrigerator and allow them to defrost for a day. After, you can use them for whatever dish you desire.

How to Defrost Frozen Jalapenos?

If you want to defrost your freshly-frozen jalapenos all you need to do is simply take a bag from the freezer and allow them to defrost in your refrigerator for about an hour or two. You can even place the bag of frozen peppers in a bowl of cool water for about 30 minutes to defrost.

However, if you are just using them to make baked nachos or tossing them into chilies and casserole dishes simply grab out what you need from the freezer and toss them on or into the dish frozen. The cooking process will make them tender and hot.

Canned and bottled jalapenos could be thawed the same way, just transfer the product from the freezer to the fridge. Leave the jalapenos to thaw for several hours to overnight. Once the jalapenos are thawed completely, they are ready to use.

Summary

With all that being said, again if you love fresh crisp jalapeno peppers as it is never wise to freeze them and always best too just enjoy them while they are in season.

Otherwise, harvest as much as you can while they are fresh in the summertime. Now that you know how can you freeze jalapenos, go ahead and preserve them using this method. This way, they can be enjoyed throughout the year in all kinds of tasteful dishes.

Vegetables

Can You Freeze Broccoli?

Have you ever bought frozen broccoli florets? If not, I’m sure you’ve seen them in the nearest grocery store. So you already know you can freeze broccoli and it freezes well. Now that you have too much broccoli on hand, you’re searching for ways to store it.

Freezing is the first thing that comes to mind because it gives you an easy way out. The veggies won’t spoil and you don’t need to decide how or where to use them. Just freeze the vegetables and it’s out of your mind until it’s needed. I know I have done that quite a few times and I’m sure you did too. So, if freezing broccoli is what you decided to do, let’s dive into the specifics.

Broccoli florets after drying

How to Freeze Broccoli?

There are at least a few ways you can freeze broccoli and in this article, we will go through the most popular ones. Each way has its own benefits. It’s up to you to choose the one that will work best for your needs.

Preparing the Broccoli

Broccoli prep is the same no matter which freezing method you will choose. If there are tiny worms in the florets, we need to get rid of them first. Fill a large bowl with water and add a teaspoon of salt. Next, chuck the broccoli into the water and leave it there for about half an hour. That should help kill the bugs. After 30 minutes, rinse the veggie under running water. The vegetables should be worm-free now.

The rest of the preparation process is the same no matter if it’s storebought or fresh broccoli harvested from the garden. Place the veggie onto a cutting board and cut it into florets (bite-sized broccoli trees). If you want to use the stalks too (they’re perfectly fine to eat!), cut them into smaller fries-like pieces.

After cutting, wash the pieces under running water to remove leftover dirt. Some people prefer washing before cutting, but I find it much easier (and faster!) to wash after cutting.

Now that the broccoli is prepped, it’s time to choose how to freeze it. If you have no idea how the veggie will be used in the future, just go with the first option – freezing blanched broccoli.

This method is straightforward and the results are the same if you buy frozen broccoli. Freezing cooked or roasted broccoli is a great option if you want to prep the vegetables quickly for eating. Since the vegetables are already cooked, you won’t need to wait until they soften. Just make sure the brocs are warm enough to your liking and that’s it.

Freezing Blanched Broccoli

We start off by blanching broccoli. This process helps with retaining the taste and texture of the veggie after freezing. It’s by no means necessary but helps you get better results. After blanching and drying, we flash freeze the florets and stalk pieces. This is optional. This way, they won’t freeze together. The last part of the process is transferring the frozen veggies into a freezer bag. Put the veggies back into the freezer. This freezing method is perfect if you want to store broccoli for the long term.

Here’s the step by step process for blanching broccoli:

  1. Boil a pot of water. Once the water boils, throw in the broccoli for 2 to 3 minutes (depending on the size of the florets).
    Blanching broccoli in boiling water
  2. Prepare a bowl of iced water for the ice bath.
  3. After those 2 to 3 minutes, strain the water and immediately transfer the veggie into the ice bath.
    Draining broccoli after blanching
  4. Leave broccoli in the cold water for 5 to 10 minutes then strain the water.
    Broccoli in ice bath

Now it’s time to freeze the broccoli:

  1. Make sure broccoli is dried thoroughly. A dishcloth and a few paper towels should do the trick. If you’re not in a hurry, leave the veggie for about 30 minutes on a dishcloth after drying. This helps the water evaporate. Take a paper towel and pat each floret dry to make sure there are no wet spots. Again, drying is really important.
    Draining broccoli using a colander
    Drying broccoli with dish cloth and paper towels
  2. (Optional) Take a cookie sheet and line it with parchment paper. Then lay the broccoli pieces flat onto the cookie sheet. Make sure the pieces don’t touch one another if possible. Place the cookie sheet into the freezer for an hour. Take the broccoli from the freezer.
  3. Transfer the veggie into a freezer bag or container. Label it with a name and a date and chuck it into the freezer.
    Chucking broccoli into freezer bags

Freezing Cooked, Steamed, or Roasted Broccoli

Freezing broccoli this way is perfect if you want to have frozen broccoli ready to eat in no time. Since the brocs are already pre-cooked, they just need to be warmed up. no need to wait until the vegetable softens. A few minutes on a frying pan or in a microwave and the brocs are ready. This method is perfect if you plan to eat the frozen broccoli within a month. It’s not recommended if you are planning to store the brocs for the long term.

Here’s the step by step process of freezing pre-cooked broccoli (choose one of the options):

  1. [Option A] Cooking the broccoli. Boil a pot of water with a pinch of salt and chuck the broccoli. Keep the pot on simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes until the veggie softens slightly. The brocs do not need to soften all the way because you will be reheating it. Aim to undercook the brocs. Once broccoli softens, strain the water.
  2. [Option B] Steam the broccoli. Bring a pot of water to a boil and steam the broccoli for 20 to 25 minutes until it softens. Just like you would do if you were cooking it, aim to “under-steam” it.
  3. [Option C] Roast the broccoli. This is my favorite method! It works beautifully if you’re preparing broccoli as part of your meal prep routine. Preheat the oven to 420 degrees F (or 220 degrees C). Take a cookie sheet, line it with aluminum foil and lay the broccoli florets onto it. Now it’s time to coat them. The easiest option is to spray the broccoli with olive oil. I mix olive oil with balsamic vinegar 1:1 and spray the broccoli with that. A tablespoon of a coating of your choice is more than enough for a large cookie sheet of broccoli. Once the oven is preheated, transfer the cookie sheet into it. Roast the veggie for 30 to 35 minutes. After about 30 minutes check if the veggie is soft enough. Try piercing the brocs with a fork. If they’re not ready,  leave it in the oven for another 3-5 minutes.
  4. Cool and dry the broccoli thoroughly. No matter which option of pre-cooking you have chosen, give the vegetable time to cool completely. Remove any excess water the veggie. For starters, lay the broccoli flat and let it sit in room temperature for at least an hour to let it cool off. Once it’s cool, check if all the moisture has evaporated. If you can spot some wet spots, use paper towels or a dish cloth to get rid of those. Cold and dry broccoli is ready for freezing.
  5. Transfer the broccoli into freezing bags or containers. Label them with name and a date and chuck them into the freezer. To make defrosting more convenient, divide the veggies into several servings. Put each serving into its own container. This way when you need the frozen broccoli, you just take the bag from the freezer without measuring anything.

How to Defrost Frozen Broccoli

The way to defrost broccoli depends on how you plan to use it. If the veggie will go into a soup, stew, or something similar, the easiest way to go is to throw it in frozen. If you want to fry the brocs as part of a stir-fry or a casserole, defrost the vegetables in the fridge. If you forgot to put it into the refrigerator the night before, leave the vegetables to thaw at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours. Please note that defrosted vegetables (and pretty much any other product out there) shouldn’t be re-frozen.

Tips and Tricks for Freezing Broccoli

Cutting broccoli florets into smaller ones is messy. Instead of cutting them all the way with a knife, cut them halfway from the bottom (stem). Then, tear apart with your hands. This way there’s little to no mess involved.

Splitting broccoli floret into two

Splitting broccoli floret into two

Vegetables

Can You Freeze Squash?

Bumper crop of squash or a sale at your grocery store beg the question: “can you freeze squash?” Indeed you can, read on to learn how.

Did you have a bumper crop of squash in your garden this year? Were colorful squash on sale at your grocery store and you over-zealously threw a pile in your cart? Fortunately, too much of a good thing is a good thing, since you can easily preserve this nutrient-rich bounty with little time and effort.

The good news is, squash lends well to freezing. However, prep for winter and summer varieties have slight differences. Squash is part of the gourd family, and it’s designated into two classifications: winter squash and summer squash.

Varieties of winter squash include acorn, buttercup, butternut, Hubbard, kabocha, spaghetti, and turban. These hearty varieties are mainly used for casseroles, main or side dishes, and soups. Process winter squash with a deep color and a hard rind. Once cooked or steamed, the squash is ready for your freezer.

Summer squash includes pattypan, tromboncino, zucchini, and yellow squash varieties. They’re a delicious, ingredient in vegetable lasagna, stir fry, creamed soup, and pasta. A puree or grated squash (especially zucchini) can also be used in baked goods. Grate, slice, or puree the flesh of young, tender summer squash for freezing.

can you freeze squash

Image used under Creative Commons from Tony Austin

Is freezing really a great method to preserve squash? Freezing is certainly beneficial for longer storage times, and many recipes call for pre-cooked squash. Winter squash can stay fresh in a cool atmosphere (about 50 degrees F) covered in newspaper in a single layer for 4 to 8 months.

Winter squash can stay fresh in a cool atmosphere (about 50 degrees F) covered in newspaper in a single layer for 4 to 8 months. However, squash is a larger item, so it may take up precious storage room that you don’t have or can’t spare for several months.

Sometimes, it’s just easier to process batches all at once if you’ve grown a large amount from your own garden or found a ridiculously low price per pound at the grocery store. That means you’ve only got to haul out your kitchen appliances once. Also, you only have to deal with the mess and dishes of the processing chore now (so you’ll thank yourself later).

Zucchini is an especially popular, healthier alternative ingredient to butter or oil in muffins, brownies, and cakes. According to Wilton.com, “Cooked mashed squashes…will replace half if not all the fat in most baked desserts, and are particularly suited for muffins, quick bread, gingerbread, fruit cakes and other dense cakes.

Squash or sweet potatoes are an excellent choice if the recipe calls for cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, or cloves…! You can use 3/4 as much of the vegetable puree as the total amount of fat called for in the recipe…”

How to Freeze Squash?

Freezing Winter Squash

When steamed and cooked winter squash has cooled, it can be frozen.

Preparing the Squash

First, wash the rind, then cut the squash in half, taking out the seeds. Place the halves face-down into a shallow baking tray filled with approximately an inch of water.

Cook time is about 6 minutes in the microwave per pound of squash or 40 or 45 minutes in a 400 degree F oven.

Next, scoop out the pulp from the rind, and mash it with a fork. (Use a food processor or immersion [hand] blender to puree the squash for soups or baby food. Pour the puree directly into ice cube trays for baby food portions.)

Packing the Squash for Freezing

Put the squash into freezer containers or plastic freezer bags. For frozen summer squash, gently scrub the rind. Cut it into 1/2-inch slices. Blanch the slices for 3 minutes then cool, drain, and package.

Freezing Summer Squash 

Preparing the Squash

Since summer squash or zucchini is an alternative to oil in baking, freeze it back. First, wash the zucchini and peel off the skin. Grate the zucchini flesh and blanch it.

Packing the Squash for Freezing

Transfer the grated zucchini to freezer containers or bags, but keep them open while you place them in a pan or bowl of cool or ice water. Seal containers or bags after they’ve cooled.

Give the squash a 1/2-inch head space in its containers. The recommended maximum freezer storage time is 12 months.

How to Defrost Frozen Squash?

To thaw, place the squash in your refrigerator until completely thawed. When thawed, summer squash is mushy, so discard any extra liquid.

Use frozen squash in baked goods or thaw it quickly by running the freezer container under hot water. Use thawed squash within 2-3 days, and refreezing is not recommended.

Summary

Although raw squash is always available, it’s nice to know that you can store your supply in the freezer and enjoy this vegetable whenever you like. Now that you know how can you freeze squash, there is no need to worry about extending the shelf life of this vegetable for future cooking.

Vegetables

Can You Freeze Kale?

Can you freeze kale? Preparing fresh kale is simple, but it can be time-consuming. What about freezing kale? Not everyone wants to deal with washing and chopping kale after a long day at work.

One solution would be to wash and chop bulk amounts ahead of time, but the kale would spoil before you could use all of it. But if you freeze the prepared kale, you can add kale to meals quickly and without much extra preparation.

Kale, like few other vegetables, freezes beautifully — but you have to deactivate enzymes in the kale before putting it in the freezer. Most vegetables have these enzymes that cause the vegetables to continue aging and rotting even if the vegetable is frozen.

If you thaw out vegetables that have been frozen raw, you’ll find they are slimy and really unappetizing. Below is the proper way on how can you freeze kale:

How to Freeze Kale?

Blanching, or quickly boiling the vegetables, for a couple of minutes before freezing deactivates the enzyme that accelerates spoiling in green leafy vegetables.

However, cooking for too long, though, will cook the kale into a mushy mess that doesn’t freeze that well. So it’s crucial that you do the blanching properly.

can you freeze kale

Image used under Creative Commons from Mervi Eskelinen

Luckily, blanching is easy to master. Have everything ready to go before you start the blanching process, and definitely use a timer. Set aside a couple of hours for this; eventually you’ll get so much better that freezing kale won’t take you that long.

Preparing the Kale

When you’re starting out, though, leave yourself a buffer zone and don’t attempt blanching before any big appointments, lest you run late.

Wash the kale well; dunk it in water and ensure all dirt and any bugs wash off. Dry the kale completely — this is important because you don’t want excess water to freeze as chunks of ice on the kale. Cut out the stiff central stem and slice up the leaves and set aside.

Blanching the Kale

Start the water boiling in the stockpot and add the insert. The bottom of the insert should be below the surface of the water. Dunk as much kale as you can into the insert — all the kale should be submerged.

Start the timer and set it for two minutes. When the two minutes are up, remove the basket insert that’s holding the kale and place it in the ice water. Again, all the kale should be submerged. Remember that overcooking the kale results in mushy kale, so don’t estimate the time. Use a timer.

Freezing the Kale

Repeat all that until you’ve blanched all the kale. Dry all the kale and spread chunks of it out on a large tray. Put the tray in the freezer for about half an hour or so.

What you’re doing is freezing the kale just enough so that the pieces won’t smash down into a heap when the kale is stored. Place the semi-frozen kale in a freezer bag.

How to Defrost Frozen Kale?

Defrosting frozen kale is easy, just take out what you need when you start preparing your meal so that the kale has a little time to melt. Then add the kale to soups or stir-fries as appropriate. You might not want to eat the thawed kale without further cooking because the texture could seem a little weird. But it will taste wonderful in cooked dishes.

Technically, frozen kale will be good for however long you keep it in the freezer. However, after a couple of months or so, freezer burn might start to take its toll. Try to use the frozen kale within those couple of months. See how the quality changes over time; you might find that in future batches, you can store the kale for a longer time without a change in quality.

Summary

Freezing kale is a great way to maximize an otherwise delicate vegetable with a short shelf life. Now that you know how can you freeze kale properly, there is no reason why you shouldn’t buy in bulk. Just stick the vegetable in the freezer and you can enjoy this nutritious vegetable anytime you want.

Vegetables

Can You Freeze Lettuce

Have you ever thought about freezing lettuce? Fresh lettuce straight from the garden in all kinds of varieties makes satisfyingly delicious light meals or side dishes to make courses. Many people wish they could freeze the varieties available to them such as romaine, ice burg, loose leaf, butter head and summer crisp, but unfortunately, you cannot. Lettuce is best fresh from the garden, rinsed down with cool water, dried in a salad-tossing device and served up fresh with other vegetables and dressings.

What can you not freeze lettuce?

You should never freeze lettuce because it contains high water content. When lettuce freezes the structure of it changes because the water molecules change inside it too causing it to crystallize and become frostbite during the freezing process. Then, when you go to defrost the lettuce it is all wilted, watery and mushy making it no good to make leafy green toss salads.

Is there an optional reason why lettuce is okay to freeze?
With all the above just mention, some people still freeze lettuce to use in lettuce soups. However, they simply take the frozen lettuce from the freezer without defrosting it and put it directly into a puree machine until it is a pureed mixture. After, they pour it into a pot and make their lettuce soup. Trying to defrost frozen lettuce increases the risks of bacterial growth and spoilage, which can then later cause food poising.

Fresh lettuce

Image used under Creative Commons from Jeremy Bronson

How do you freeze lettuce to use later in soups?

The best and only way to freeze lettuce to use in soups later on is by place the lettuce of choice into freezer bags and placing it into the freezer, which it should only be kept frozen for up to 3 weeks and no longer than that. The lettuce you freeze must come from a garden and froze the same day, and not from the produce section of the grocery store. You do not know how long the lettuce from the produce section in your grocery store has been on the shelf or when the harvesting date was. Doing so may cause food poisoning when you go to use it since bacteria would have had a chance to develop on it while sitting on the grocery store shelves touched by everyone who was looking for the right head of lettuce. However, it is not to freeze ice burg lettuce since it has the highest water content out of all the lettuces.

End Notes to Keep in Mind for Keeping Lettuce as Fresh as Possible

Knowing all this about lettuce, freezing should not be an option for preserving fresh bountiful amounts of lettuce you pick from the garden. Instead, you should preserve lettuce by cutting it as close the base and roots as possible and store the lettuce in a shallow bowl of water in your refrigerator to keep it well hydrated and crisp, or in a vegetable crisper wrapped up in paper towel to prevent extra moisture from getting to it. Those of you that decide to use the shallow bowl of water to keep your lettuce hydrated in the refrigerator can only do this with romaine heads and butter heads. Loose leaf lettuce is best preserved in a zip lock bag with a sheet of paper towel in it to prevent moisture from getting to it and placed in the vegetable crisper to keep fresh. Lettuce is capable of staying fresh in the refrigerator for up to a week.