Certain vegetables benefit from blanching prior to freezing. Blanching can help preserve the flavor, texture, color, and nutrient content of vegetables. It can be confusing trying to determine which ones need to be blanched and for how long. This is a guide about blanching vegetables.
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Recently while trying to blanch/freeze 12 lbs. of green beans, I ran out of ice to cool the blanched beans. Instead I used some drink boxes, that I always keep in the freezer to use in lunchboxes to keep food cold until lunch time. I fit them around my metal bowl of veggies and water. They worked great, cooling them off and not melting too quickly!
All vegetables contain naturally occurring enzymes. In some vegetables, unless these enzymes are deactivated with heat before the vegetable is frozen, the enzymes will continue to break down and age them even at freezing temperatures. Blanching destroys these enzymes and helps preserve the vegetables flavor, color and texture during storage, as well as slowing down nutrient loss. If frozen without being blanched, some vegetables tend to soften and lose their flavor after a period of storage.
Blanching also diminishes the number of microorganisms that may be present on foods and brings out the color in green vegetables.
Use a blanching pot or large kettle full of water that has a tight fitting lid. The pot should be big enough to have a basket or strainer placed inside of it for lifting vegetables in and out of it. It the pot doesn't come with its own basket, you can use any colander or wire mesh strainer big enough to hold approximately 1 pound of vegetables. Immerse 1 pint/pound of vegetables in a gallon of hard boiling water, cover, and leave boiling for recommended amount of time. Make sure vegetables are fully submerged in water. When time is up, remove vegetables and plunge them into a sink full of icy water or run them under very cold water until completely cooled. Drain and dry on paper towel or cloth to prevent ice crystals from forming while freezing.
Use a large pot with a tight-fitting lid. Fill bottom with 2-3 inches of water and place a steaming rack in the bottom of the pot so that water does not touch the bottom of the rack. Boil water and place vegetables on the rack in a single layer no more than 2 inches deep. Cover pot. Steam for recommended amount of time (see individual vegetables). Remove cool, drain and pat dry vegetables for freezing as in water-blanching method.
In a single layer, place 1 pound of vegetables into a shallow, microwave container filled 1/2 cup water and cover. Microwave for recommended time (see individual vegetables). Remove, cool and pat dry the same as water blanching. Although this method is convenient, results can vary. Variations in microwaves, containers used, how vegetables are layered and when and if they are stirred during the process can all effect results.
This method saves a lot of time by blanching and cooling meal-sized vegetables that you have pre-sealed in boilable bags. Fill boilable bags up with a meal-sized portion of vegetables so that the bags are no more than 1 inch thick (add butter or seasoning if desired). Expel air and seal bags with an automatic bag-sealer or by placing the end of the bag under a thick towel or moist cloth and sealing it with an iron. Drop sealed bags in pot of boiling water and cover pot. Remove after boiling for recommended time (see individual vegetables) and plunge bag in ice water until completely cooled. Pat bags dry with a towel before freezing.
Tips on Water:
When using water for blanching, generally figure 1 gallon of water per pound/pint of vegetables. Distilled or filtered water will give foods the best taste. Avoid hard water.
The amount of time required for blanching will vary from vegetable to vegetable (see individual vegetables for times), but should be timed as carefully as possible. Under blanching will destroy soft tissues without destroying all the enzymes. Over blanching will discolor vegetables, change their texture and leach out valuable nutrients. Properly blanched vegetables will be heated through to the center, but still have a firm texture. The time needed to cool vegetables in ice water is approximately the same as it takes to blanch them.
When water blanching, start counting time as soon as the water returns to a boil after placing vegetables in the water. If the water takes longer than 1-2 minutes to return to a boil, consider blanching smaller batches of vegetables at a time. Blanching times for boiling bags is approximately double that of water blanching.
Vegetables need to be cooled quickly and thoroughly after blanching to stop the cooking process. To cool them, plunge baskets of vegetables quickly into a large kettle or sink filled with cold water, (at least 60°F or below). Keep water cool by adding ice frequently (approximately one pound of ice for each pound of vegetables). Vegetables should be cooled for approximately the same amount of time as you blanched them.
Drain extra moisture after cooling to avoid a loss of quality during freezing.
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Here are questions related to Blanching Vegetables.
Blanching stops the enzyme action and give far superior frozen veggies, that's why it is suggested that you do it. You'll live if you eat the veggies without blanching them, especially if they are frozen for only a short time. But after putting so much work into growing them, don't you want your veggies to actually taste good and be in prime condition when you finally choose to eat them, and more so if you spend your hard-earned dollars on them? It's best not to take any short-cuts when putting food up.
KansasCindy's response gives the correct definition of blanching. However, the blanching time varies depending on the vegetable. Some require no more than 1-2 minutes; others may require 3 minutes or more. Thriftyfun has a guide to blanching on the website. You could also consult the Ball Book of Canning and Perserving for information.
Jackie, I do blanch somestuff like any beans,if you don't they will freezer burn and have a freezer taste. I do know I put corn up this year and I didn't blanch it and eat taste good. And I don't blanch greens either,but you must get all the air out of it. But on all beans and peas I wouldn't blanch. Happy Day.
Blanching slows or stops the action of enzymes which cause loss of flavor, color and texture. Blanching also cleanses the surface of dirt and organisms, brightens the color and helps retard loss of vitamins. Blanching also wilts or softens vegetables and makes them easier to pack.