Food Preservation Saves You Money
If you are like me, you may get a little overzealous at the farmer’s market or grocery store when the produce is looking extra fresh and crisp. Maybe there is a great ‘buy two, get the third free’ deal which you simply can’t pass up because the savings feel too good. Whatever the case, there may have been moments in your life where you’ve found yourself with extra produce that you know won’t be eaten by the time it goes bad.
This is where properly freezing your produce can help you reduce food waste and ultimately, saves you money. Another wonderful benefit to properly freezing food is having access to locally grown produce that is not in season. This can add more variety and excitement to your meals. Broccoli thrives in cool weather and it is in season during the fall and winter in Central Florida. So, to have some delicious, locally grown broccoli during the off season, frozen is the way to go!
What is Blanching?
The most crucial step to freezing many vegetables is blanching. Blanching is a cooking technique in which produce is scalded by boiling water or steam for a short period of time. Produce is then rinsed under cold water or set in an ice bath to stop any further cooking. This process stops enzymatic reactions which could lead to changes in taste, texture, or color. The amount of time which vegetables need to be blanched varies depending on the type and size of the vegetables. You can find detailed instructions for specific fruits and vegetables here.
How to freeze broccoli:
- 1 large head of broccoli, fresh with any brown bit trimmed away
- 4 tsp salt
- Large stock pot or sauce pan
- Steamer basket
- Colander or strainer
- Large bowl of ice water
- Freezer bags and permanent marker for labeling
- Wash, peel, and trim stalks.
- To remove insects from heads, soak in a solution of 4 tsp salt per gallon of water for 30 minutes and then rinse.
- Meanwhile, set a large pot of water to boil.
- Cut away the florets of your broccoli. Pieces should be no more than 1 ½ inches across.
- Place broccoli in a steamer basket and set in boiling water for 3 minutes.
- Remove broccoli and immediately transfer to an ice bath to stop further cooking. Let sit for 4 minutes, then remove and drain thoroughly.
- Once broccoli has completely dried, pack broccoli tightly in a freezer bag or container labeled with the date and place in freezer.
Frozen vegetables should maintain their quality for 8 to 12 months if your freezer remains at 0°F or lower. Frozen vegetables do not need to be thawed before using.
From more information on Food Check-Out Week, visit this blog: http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/seminoleco/2022/02/13/food-check-out-week-2022/. Be sure to follow us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/UFIFASSeminoleCo/) for more exclusive Food Check-Out Week content.