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Since this was my first year growing broccoli, I wasn’t sure of the best way to freeze broccoli. I’m glad to say that blanching and freezing fresh broccoli for storage is easy.
Fortunately, broccoli freezes well. And you if you blanch it first, you’ll end up with these gorgeous bright green florets and stems in your freezer.
I’m so glad I decided to grow broccoli this year and super excited to find how easy it is to freeze.
What is the best way to freeze broccoli?
I admit, it would be easier just to chop it up and toss it into freezer safe bags. But there are a couple steps you need to do before freezing fresh broccoli.
Prepping broccoli for freezing
1) First thing to do is to remove broccoli florets from the large woody stems. Cut them off in convenient size pieces to help with even cooking.
You can leave the smaller stems intact. But the large woody stems are tough and not easy to cook.
2) Next, soak broccoli florets in salt brine for about 30 minutes. This will cause garden pests, if any, such as cabbage worms, flea beetles or aphids to remove themselves from the broccoli head.
Broccoli does have its pest problems just as with any other vegetables. And since the florets are so closely packed – it’s easy for garden them to hide.
Soak broccoli in a salt brine for 30 minutes, remove and rinse thoroughly using a stainless steel kitchen strainer to get ready to be blanched.
How to do you make a salt brine? It’s real simple. Just mix 4 tablespoons of salt to 1 gallon of water in a large pot or bowl.
Can you freeze broccoli without blanching?
This is the only downside of freezing fresh broccoli. It has to be blanched but good news, blanching broccoli is easy.
If you freeze broccoli without first blanching you will end up with a not so tasty dish.
Blanching should be done for effective freezing. It preserves and retains the color and texture of the broccoli as well as its flavor and nutrition.
How Do you blanch broccoli for freezing?
There are actually a couple different ways of blanching vegetables of any sort. They can be boiled or steamed. I boil, but we will discuss both.
Steaming Broccoli for Preserving
As I said, I don’t steam my broccoli, but this is because I don’t own a steam pot at this time either. I will try it though if I ever purchase one.
You will need a steam pot with a basket. Fill the bottom pot with 2-3 inches of water and bring to a rapid boil. Place basket inside and working with a pound or so at a time, toss clean broccoli florets into basket. Cover and steam for 5-7 minutes. Remove and immediately and add to ice water.
Water boil blanching
You’ll need a large stock pot for water boil blanching.
Bring pot of water to a rapid boil and pour chopped broccoli florets inside pot. Continue the rapid boil for 3-5 minutes.
Since the water will cease to boil, once you pour in broccoli, set the timer when the water returns to a rapid boil again.
Work in small quantities of about 1 pound or 4 cups at a time.
To remove, I use a large ladle . It makes it much easier to scoop out of the boiling water.
You’ll also need a fine mesh screen to drain the broccoli once it is removed from the boiling water. Mine is about 5.5 inches in diameter which makes it super easy to work with.
Ice bath to stop cooking process
With either method, steaming or boiling, broccoli will need to be removed and immediately placed into an ice bath.
This will shock the broccoli and stop the cooking process to retain the gorgeous green color, taste and nutrition.
Swish it around for a minute or so to cool it thoroughly, remove and drain well. I drain until almost if not completely dry – I leave mine for about 2-4 hours in the drainer. Giving it plenty of time to drain and dry.
When I freeze any vegetables, I like to do what is known as “flash freezing.” Though flash freezing is not necessary I just prefer it.
You can immediately cool, drain and fill freezer safe containers or a Ziploc bag, leaving no headspace and place directly into the freezer and your are done.
The National Center for Home Food Preservation actually says to do it this way. I just go a bit further, here’s why.
What is Flash Freezing?
Flash freezing simply means to rapidly freeze so as to prevent ice crystals from forming.
Have you ever taken a frozen bag of vegetables from your freezer to find the bag all frozen into a big-o-chunk of ice and your vegetable is pretty much unrecognizable?
If you buy frozen vegetables from the grocery store, they are not frozen together – right? Which means you can purchase larger bags to save money but only cook the amount needed for those busy weeknight family dinners.
How to Flash Freeze Fresh Broccoli
After the broccoli has drained for a couple hours or more, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Pour well drained, blanched broccoli onto cookie sheets and spread around so not to touch each other or in a single layer.
Place cookie sheet in the freezer, flat, and leave for 2-3 hours. Then simply remove the cookie sheet of broccoli and pour it into your freezer safe container.
Note: I’ll be honest here… I’ve forgotten mine more than once and left it for a couple days. I still placed it into my Ziploc bags and used it.
All my fresh vegetables such as broccoli and peppers this way and always use large 1-gallon Ziploc bags. Sometimes I double bag if I am freezing larger quantities. This takes up less space and I can take out how much I need for each meal.
I used this method to freeze strawberries, blueberries and other fruits the same way. It works great for all fruits and vegetables.
The choice is yours. Because I flash freeze does not mean you have to. It is an option, it does add a step to freezing your fresh broccoli, but I would recommend you try it at least once.
Flash freezing works great for our homestead. And I think it is the best way to freeze broccoli and any other fruits and vegetables too.
How Long Does frozen broccoli last?
If frozen properly, in a freezer safe container or Ziploc bag, frozen broccoli can be safely stored in the freezer for up to 12 months.
I’ll admit, these machines are not cheap, but they are worth their cost. They keep foods fresher for up to 3x longer than regular freezer bags.
I use my vacuum seal machine when I grow bumper crops that need to go into the freezer that will be in there for more than 12 months. It does keep them fresh.
For example, in 2017, I grew way too much Okra and couldn’t let it go to waste. So I vacuum sealed it and now in 2019, we are still eating on that okra and it tastes totally fresh.
What method do you prefer to freeze broccoli and other fruits and vegetables? How do you freeze yours? I’d love to know!
more canning and preserving tips:
- How to Freeze Strawberries
- Canning Green Beans
- How to Make Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
- Simple Canning Guide for Beginners
Don’t forget to pin this to enjoy later!