Blanching Vegetables Before Freezing Them Is A Step You Shouldn't Skip

Frozen vegetables can be a lifesaver for busy cooks who still love serving nutritious meals. Instead of needing to go to the market every day, you can simply reach into your freezer and pull out whatever you have on hand and, in a short time, have delicious and nutritious veggies on the table for you and your family to enjoy.

While nothing will ever compare to the taste or texture of veggies fresh from the farm, when you freeze them at home they can be far superior to anything from the grocery freezer section. Beyond these advantages, you have the peace of mind of knowing where your food came from and that they have been handled appropriately. 

Blanching is a quick process, only requiring from about 10 seconds to 10 minutes, depending on the vegetable (via the University of Minnesota), that helps preserve the fresh flavor and nutritional value of your vegetables.

What is blanching

In the book "Innovative Food Processing Technologies" via ScienceDirect, we learn that blanching is "a process to scald foods in hot water." This is a three-step practice consisting of preheating, blanching, and finally, cooling. Blanching is a way to heat-treat vegetables and improve the effectiveness of preserving them.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison explains the process as bringing water to a boil, adding your washed veggies to the water, covering them with a lid, and allowing them to come back to a boil. You start counting the blanching time once they have begun boiling the second time.

You can also steam your veggies instead of boiling them, but they only recommend this method for small batches of vegetables. It takes 50% longer and requires that you have a special steaming basket that many home cooks may not have in their kitchens.

Regardless of the blanching method you use, the vegetables should be removed from the heat at the suggested time, drained, and immediately placed in a bath of ice water. This stops the cooking process.

Why blanch vegetables before freezing

Blanching veggies brings many advantages to the table. In P.J. Fellows' book via ScienceDirect, "Food Processing Technology Principles and Practice," we find that one of the chief advantages of blanching vegetables has to do with food safety. The boiling or steaming process reduces the number of microorganisms on the surface of the food.

Beyond this, the University of Minnesota explains that the heating and cooling process slows or stops the enzyme action that can cost foods their flavor, nutritional value, and vibrant colors. Of course, there is one other consideration that we should never overlook.

You can keep blanched vegetables in your freezer for eight to 12 months (Via the University of Minnesota). You can buy your favorite veggies when they are in season and available at a lower price, and freeze them to use any time of the year. For people who love their greens, blanching might be a cooking technique worth mastering.