Broccoli is a garden favorite around our place. Here in Utah, it is a little hard to grow. Our springs are short and we often get hot pretty quick, so when we have a good crop of broccoli we have to take advantage of it and get as much in the freezer as possible! Freezing Broccoli is really quite simple and only involves 6 steps.
This year was one of those good years! We had 16 perfect heads of broccoli each weighing in at about 1 1\4 pounds. So we have a lot of broccoli to preserve!
The preferred method for preserving broccoli is to freeze it. There really isn’t another way to do it. I’ve heard of people pickling it and I guess you could dry it, but really the only practical way to preserve broccoli is to freeze it!
There are 6 steps you need to follow when freezing broccoli:
1. Soaking in salt water
If you grow broccoli in your garden there is a pretty good chance it will have a few critters in it. Even the best organic gardener is going to have a few bugs in his broccoli. So you need to get the bugs out. The best method we have found to do this is to first soak the broccoli in a mild salt water solution.
Add a tablespoon of salt to about 2 gallons of warm water and let the broccoli soak in that solution for at least an hour. The salt water seems to draw out most of the bugs. You can then carefully pour them off.
2. Wash it good!
Next we rinse the broccoli very well to wash off any remaining bugs and dirt! Take a little time to inspect the broccoli to be sure the salt water removed all your little bug friends.
3. Cut in desired-sized pieces.
I like to have a nice long piece of stem on each piece of broccoli. But many people don’t like the stems as much so you can cut them off how ever you please! Just be sure you cut them how you like to eat them so that you don’t have to do any thing but cook them when you take them from the freezer.
4. Blanch for three minutes.
The Ball Blue Book, our go-to food preservation book, suggests you blanch (or pre-cook) the broccoli for three minutes. Blanching slows the decomposition process and kills most bacteria helping frozen food to last longer.
There are two methods to blanch; boil or steam.
To boil simply bring a pot of water to a boil, add the broccoli and let it cook for exactly 3 minutes. The disadvantage of the boiling method is that many of the nutrients cook out in the water.
That is why we prefer the steam method. Fewer nutrients are lost when steaming. We use our vegetable steamer and let the broccoli cook for exactly 3 minutes.
With either method remove the broccoli after 3 minutes and immediately put it in an ice water bath. We have a nice big bowl of water filled with ice sitting in the sink. You need to leave the broccoli in the ice water for 3 minutes. This stops the cooking process.
5. Freeze flat over night.
Once the broccoli has cooled, remove it from the water and let it sit on a towel to drain and dry a bit.
In my opinion the only way to freeze any veggie or fruit is to freeze it flat on a cookie sheet for at least 12 hours BEFORE you put it into what ever container you use. Freezing flat means each piece is frozen individually. That makes for a much better-finished product. It keeps your broccoli from freezing together in one giant frozen chunk!
6. Put in freezer bags.
If you have one of those fancy bag sealers that pulls all the air out of the bag then use that! But if your like us you can simply use the zipper top freezer bags. We try to use a BPA-free bag. We find ours at Target. We put our broccoli in gallon sized bags. But you could also use smaller bags to make them meal-sized servings.
So far this year we have put away 9 bags of frozen broccoli. We are hoping with our fall crop we might have enough to last us all winter!
Most frozen veggies will last between 6 to 12 months in a good deep-freeze.
As with any food preserving post here on Stoney Acres I have to give you our little disclaimer. We are not the FDA and this post has not been evaluated by the FDA. Before preserving any food you should consult the FDA website or a current and reputable food preservation book, like The Ball Blue Book.