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Freeze Some Vegetables This Summer

Freezing is one of the easiest methods of food preservation.
Freeze Some Vegetables This Summer

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Are you growing a traditional or container garden this year? Do you buy extra fresh fruits or vegetables when they are on sale? Has someone given you some vegetables or fruits from his or her garden? Do you shop at farmers markets?

If you answered “yes” to any of these, why not preserve some fruits and vegetables to enjoy next winter? Freezing is one of the easiest methods of food preservation.

“Blanch” First

To assure good-quality frozen vegetables, most need a pretreatment called blanching. When you blanch, you briefly heat vegetables in boiling water or steam to inactivate naturally occurring enzymes in the plant. These enzymes cause undesirable changes during frozen storage. The changes include faster nutrient loss, vegetable toughening, and flavor and color loss.

Steps for Freezing Vegetables

  1. Fill a large kettle with water and bring it to a rolling boil. You need a gallon of water for a pound of vegetables.
  2. Clean and cut vegetables as needed. Place them in a wire basket or perforated blancher insert and immerse in boiling water. Keep the burner on “high.”
  3. Start timing as soon as the water returns to a boil, which should be less than one minute or you are adding too much vegetables. As shown, the time required for blanching varies among vegetables. Keep the kettle covered during blanching.
  4. Remove the vegetables and immediately put them in ice cold water. Chill the vegetables until they are completely cold, about the same amount of time as blanching.
  5. Drain well and package in labeled freezer containers or freezer bags in meal-sized amounts.
VegetablePreparationBlanching Time
Beans (snap or wax) Wash and remove ends. Leave whole or cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch lengths. 3 minutes
Corn on the cob Husk, then rinse and sort ears according to size.
  • 7 minutes (small ears, less an 1 1/4 inches in diameter)
  • 9 minutes (medium; 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter)
  • 11 minutes (large; more than 1 1/2 inches in diameter)
Peas (shelled) Shell a batch at a time. Delay between shelling and freezing toughens skins. Blanch, cool and drain. 1 1/2 minutes
Peppers Wash, cut off stems, remove seeds; dice or slice. No heat treatment needed

More Information About Freezing Vegetables and Fruits

Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

Featured in Food Wise July 2013 newsletter (PDF)

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