Freezing vegetables is a fast and easy way to preserve the bounty from a backyard garden or trip to the farmers' market. Some vegetables actually retain nutrients better when frozen. It's an affordable way to enjoy your favorite produce year-round, and frozen vegetables boast stellar nutritional value. So toss those peas and carrots into a brothy soup, take advantage of broccoli and cauliflower for spicy stir-fries, or savor them simply steamed.
Any Tips on Freezing Produce?
When I hit the farmers' market, it's difficult for me to stop myself from buying more than I need—I mean way more. So I freeze extra produce. But it's not as simple as throwing it in the freezer and calling it a day.
Here's how to freeze your market bounty.
1. Pick and Cut Your Produce
Freezing whole vegetables can harm their texture. This happens when ice crystals form, rupturing cell walls. The faster water freezes, the smaller the crystals it forms, so small or thin vegetables—peas, corn kernels, green beans—freeze best. Cutting larger vegetables into smaller, uniform shapes (about ½ inch or less) can speed the freezing process and minimize texture loss, as can freezing them in a single layer on a wide baking sheet or large plate.
2. Blanch the Vegetables
Before freezing, blanch the vegetables in boiling water. This helps maintain bright color and fresh flavor by deactivating enzymes that would cause them to turn drab during thawing. Plunge vegetables into boiling salted water for a few moments.
3. Spread Vegetables Into a Single Layer
Spread the blanched veggies on a rimmed baking sheet, and place in the freezer until frozen.
4. Transfer to Freezer Bags
Once frozen, transfer to zip-top freezer bags with the air pressed out before sealing. Even freezer bags allow some transfer of gases, which can lead to freezer burn, so for storage longer than two months, it's best to double-bag. Make sure to label the bags with the packing date.
Bonus for following all these steps: Small, blanched frozen veggies thaw in just a few moments under warm running water directly in their bags.
Help Me, Kenji!
Kenji López-Alt is the chief creative officer of Serious Eats, where he writes The Food Lab, unraveling the science of home cooking.