So you’ve hauled in a nice big bunch of goodies from your garden. But you’re not quite sure you wish to be on the all broccoli diet for the next several days, and in fact, you think it would be awesome to save some of the harvest for winter when the price tag on an organic head of broccoli is about $4.00-$5.00. Where to begin?
The very first thing I want to get out of the way is this: THIS IS NOT DIFFICULT. If you’ve ever boiled water, you can do this. Yes you’ll need to prep a bit, but it is not hard to put up your own veggies. Here’s how…
What you will need:
Knife for chopping vegetables
Pot of boiling water
Strainer to pull out the hot veggies
Sink or bowl full of ice water
Bags or containers to place blanched vegetables in
Step One: Put a pot of water on to boil.
Step Two: Chop vegetables, aim for uniform pieces so that they will blanch evenly and then cook evenly later on
Step Three: put some of the vegetable into the boiling water. It’s important to not crowd them, aim for enough to cover the surface of the water one piece deep.
Why do you even need to blanch the vegetables? Quick and dirty answer, it stabilizes them so they don’t degrade while being frozen. The enzymes in the food will continue to break down the vegetables even in the freezer, just slower than if you left them out on the counter.
I use a very general rule of not longer than 2 minutes in the boiling water. Smaller stuff like peas would be less. The object is not to cook the vegetables, only to stop/greatly reduce enzymatic action. A timer is handy here, or just use a clock and watch it. Now is not the time for multi-tasking.
Step Four: After the vegetables are blanched you need to STOP the action of the boiling water…fast. Use ice cold water for this.
Step Five: Once the vegetables are thoroughly cooled place them on a towel or in a colander to drain. Don’t pack up any extra water, it will turn to ice crystals and lessen the quality of the food. Have your bags or containers ready and please make sure to label with a) the contents and b) the date. I’ve done it the other way, and trust me, you think at the time that you will surely remember which bag is broccoli and which is green beans…but after a month or two in the freezer it just isn’t so!
A little peek in the freezer…one of the great tools of the homesteader. Looks like it maybe time to defrost soon! So broccoli and cauliflowers are tucked in. They will taste wonderful this winter. This is an intentionally small work. I recommend that you do the same. I have processed two full bags of corn in a day, and I don’t recommend it. When the load is smaller it is a) more likely to get done b) more enjoyable c) less clean up. This processing leaves me with three nice heads of broccoli and three ok sized heads of cauliflower in the fridge for the coming week. There’s still another row of broccoli in the garden coming along, and I’ve just planted the fall crops which will be larger both in the size of the vegetables as well as the amount for storage, since standing over a pot of boiling water in the autumn is easier than on a hot July evening.
So how long did this all take? About an hour. Of course that doesn’t account for all the time of growing the food. 😉 It is simple to do and if you have storage space in a freezer why not catch the bounty of the season?!
Linked to: Homestead Revival Barn Hop