Freezing vegetables can be a tricky process. If frozen  incorrectly, they lose all their crunch, color, and nutrients. A simple fix: blanching vegetables. 

Blanching is a fast, easy way to prep your food before freezing. When freezing vegetables (and some fruits), the cold breaks down enzymes in the cells walls, which are what cause the crunchy texture and preserve the color and nutrients. Blanching stops that breakdown from happening. You can do it with most vegetables, but here's how to blanch broccoli.

Other reasons to blanch foods:

It removes the bitterness. Vegetables come in all shapes, sizes, and tastes - in some, that taste can be more bitter than in others. Blanching your food will soften the flavor and make it more palatable.

It brightens up the colors.  Most vegetables are already vibrant in color, but after time, the color begins to fade. This also happens when raw veggies go straight in the freezer. 

It cleans the food. Briefly boiling your vegetables will get rid of any lingering germs or dirt that hadn't already been washed off.

Blanching shortens future cooking time. When you take your veggies out from the freezer a few weeks later for some stir fry, you'll be happy to realize that you cut your cooking time down quite a bit. Once you pull them from the freezer, they'll already be partially cooked. Now you'll have less stir-frying time and more stir-fry-eating time.

The Process

Mary Seymour

Step 1: Get Some Water Boiling  

A simple task for even the greenest of chefs. Take a large pot (depending on how much broccoli you want to boil) and fill it with water. Then turn the burner up to high. If you want to add an extra bit of flavor as well as get the water boiling even faster, add a tablespoon of salt to the water once you start seeing bubbles.

Step 2: Make an Ice Bath

Mary Seymour

Fill a large bowl with ice water. While the water boils, take the broccoli of your choice and cut it down to the desired pieces. It’s good to make sure it’s small enough to fit into your pot and bowl, so bite-sized pieces should do.

Step 3: Moving the Broccoli

Mary Seymour

Once the water is bubbling, immediately move the broccoli into the water using tongs or a slotted spoon, making sure you’re not splashing and burning yourself. Boiling the food will bring the color out by the beginning cooking process, but you have to be careful with how long the vegetables stay in the water. Too long will cause over-blanching and they'll lose their color and vitamins, while too little will cause under-blanching and speed up the process of the food breaking down, making it worse than never blanching in the first place.  Set your timer according to how large the florets are. If you're blanching smaller florets, the average would be around 1/12 minutes, at most 3 minutes. If you're blanching something closer to full heads, then I recommend 3-4 minutes. Let them sit until then.

Step 4: Cooling the Broccoli
Mary Seymour

Once the time is up, immediately move the broccoli to a large bowl of ice water. Doing this shocks the vegetables and stops them cooking any further. Let them sit there fore 30 seconds to 1 minute before draining them in a colander and putting them in a Ziploc bag.  Place bag in the freezer and you’re done!


Mary Seymour

Broccoli Quiche: An easy to make classic, this recipe calls for blanched broccoli as one of its main ingredients. Check out the recipe and give it a try.

Beef and Broccoli Stir fry: This is a piece of cake when it come to blanched ingredients.  Because it's already partially cooked to begin with, using blanched broccoli would make a faster, more efficient way.

Broccoli Cheese Soup: What's an article about broccoli without a recipe for broccoli cheese soup? This recipe in particular has only a few ingredients for the soup, with broccoli being it's main star.

Once you've learned how to master this process, you can pretty much do anything with the vegetable afterwards, save for eating it raw. One of the great things about broccoli is that as nutrient rich it is, it's also one of the more versatile veggies. You can bake, steam, roast or even put it in a soup. The possibilities are endless.