Have you ever accidentally bought just a little too much broccoli from the supermarket? Never know what to do with them or how to save them up for your next meal? The solution to this is to freeze your broccoli. When raw or cooked, fresh broccoli has a shelf life of 3 to 5 days, and raw chopped broccoli only lasts 2 days. This means you should either use up your broccoli pretty much as soon as you buy them or find a way to keep them longer like freezing them. You may be wondering if you can do that, can broccoli be frozen?
Broccoli can be frozen. Freeze fresh broccoli in the following six simple steps: select fresh broccoli, discard the tough stalks, soak the broccoli in a brine solution, blanch the broccoli, put the broccoli in an ice bath, then pack and freeze the broccoli.
You may be thinking freezing broccoli is possible because there are frozen fruits and vegetables available in the supermarket’s frozen section. If this is you, then you’re right. Buying and freezing fresh broccoli can be cheaper than getting them in frozen packs.
The process is easy to do at home, and most importantly, it doesn’t take away any of the nutrients that the broccoli provides 1. In fact, freezing broccoli can keep it fresh. In addition, it’s great for meal planning, and you’ll have fresh broccoli ready to cook for when you’re too busy to prep.
Smoothie Tip: Broccoli in a smoothie? Yes, especially frozen! Adding frozen veggies or fruit enhances the flavor and nutrient content. The secret to an easy smoothie is having a blender powerful enough to handle the workload. The blender I recommend has a 6 blade, multi-tiered blade, check it out and the current price on Amazon, Nutri Ninja BL685 with Auto-iQ Technology.
How to Freeze Broccoli
1. Select Fresh Broccoli
The freezing process begins even before you bring the broccoli home. When picking out vegetables at the supermarket or farmer’s market, it’s important to pay attention to the freshness of each item. Fresher vegetables generally freeze better, so make sure you pick the cleanest broccoli you can find.
A way to tell the broccoli level of freshness is by feeling their heads. The heads on fresh broccoli are usually firmer and tougher than those that have been sitting in the pile for a while 2.
2. Discard the Tough Stalks
You may have heard of the need to blanch broccoli before freezing them. This is a key step, but before that, you will have to prep the vegetable first.
Your broccoli may have hard stalks with a woody and tough outer layer. These are generally undesirable in cooking because it gets in the way of the taste. Discard these stalks by either cutting them away or using a vegetable peeler. Then, separate the broccoli heads into chunks to get ready for the next step.
3. Soak the Broccoli in a Brine Solution
Once you have your broccoli head in chunks, it’s time to clean them. Blanching can usually get rid of any unseen insects or caterpillars that may have been latching on to the florets 3. However, if you want to be extra safe, soaking the broccoli in a brine solution first can fully ensure you that you have no crawlers on your food.
To make a brine solution, fill up a big bowl with cold water and salt. A good rule of thumb is to put four tablespoons of salt into one part of water, for a ratio of 4:1. Mix the solution up nicely and then soak your broccoli pieces in them for roughly 30 minutes. You can make sure the broccolis are extra clean by swirling them around in the water and washing individual chunks. When time is up, get out the cutting board and cut the large broccoli pieces into smaller florets.
4. Blanch the Broccoli
I’ve mentioned blanching a few times already, but it may be a term you’re unfamiliar with. Blanching is a cooking process that scolds a vegetable or fruit with boiling water for a short time. Skipping the blanching phase before freezing is technically possible. However, in the end you’ll be left with less than satisfying results.
Even if you got rid of the woody stalks at the start of this process, immediately putting the broccoli in the freezer will give you bitter and tough stems. In addition, the color of your broccoli will not be as green. This is why blanching is highly recommended for this process.
There are two ways to blanch broccoli and you can use whichever method you prefer. It also depends on the equipment you have at home. You can either blanch the broccoli in steam or in boiling water 4.
Note that you need to prepare for the 5th step while your broccolis are blanching because the next step should quickly follow. For the 5th step, make an ice bath by filling a big bowl with water and plenty of ice while the broccoli is blanching.
Blanching in steam To blanch in steam, you will need a pot that comes with a fitted steaming basket. Alternatively, you can also use a colander in place of the steaming basket as long as it fits nicely inside the pot.
Fill up a pot with 2-3 inches of water and bring it to a boil. Place your broccoli florets in the basket or colander and close the lid. Set a timer for 5 minutes starting from when the water has fully boiled so as not to overcook the broccoli. When the timer goes off, simply remove the steaming basket.
Blanching in boiling water Another way to blanch your broccoli is in boiling water. This method does not require a fitted steaming basket and may be more favorable for you if you have limited equipment in the kitchen.
To blanch in boiling water, bring a pot of water to a full boil. Drop your broccoli florets into the water and set a timer for 3 minutes. When it’s time, use a strainer or colander to take the broccoli out.
5. Put the Broccoli in an Ice Bath
After blanching, put your broccoli in the ice bath you have prepared beforehand. This helps cool the vegetables down. To speed up the cooling process, swish the broccoli around in the ice water.
It’s important to drain and dry the vegetable well. Leftover water on your broccoli will form into an ice mass when freezing 5. In addition, it will make cooking more difficult because you will have to wait for the broccoli to defrost.
You can dry your broccoli using a couple of techniques. If you have a salad spinner on hand, spinning the wet broccoli in it is a good way to shake the water out of each broccoli floret. Otherwise, you can lay out a dry towel and spread the florets across it, then gently but quickly blot them dry.
6. Pack and Freeze the Broccoli
There are various ways to pack your broccoli for freezing. This also depends on what you have available at home. They can be packed in jars, Tupperware or freezer containers, or even plastic freezer bags. Here are a few things to pay attention to when packing your broccoli.
- Make sure to leave an inch of space between the broccoli and the lid of your container or the zipper of your freezer bags 6.
- If you are using a freezer bag, you should take care to lay your broccoli as flat as possible to ensure a quicker freezing time. The bags made for freezing have an extra thick and durable seal 7.
- Packing the broccoli in portion sizes also makes it easier for you to cook them according to the amount that you need.
As an alternative, it is also possible to freeze different parts of the broccoli separately, namely the stems and the florets. Each part of the broccoli can individually be used for different dishes. Separate the stems from the florets at the initial stage of prepping, and blanch and freeze them independently following the aforementioned steps.
How Long Does Frozen Broccoli Last in the Freezer?
If you followed all the steps detailed above, your frozen broccoli should last you the year. Use them up within twelve months to make use of all the flavors and nutrients they have to offer 8. Read on to learn how to maximize the potential of your frozen broccoli and discover the variety of dishes you can come up with.
How Do You Cook Frozen Broccoli?
The simplest way to cook your frozen florets is to steam or boil them for about one minute. Since they are already cooked, you don’t want to put them in the heat for too long so that they don’t lose their crunch. Serve with protein and carb of your choice.
The method of separating broccoli florets from their stems comes in handy when thinking of dishes to make. Florets are great for salads, stir fries, pasta or vegetarian quiches. You can quickly sauté them or roast them in the oven 9. Additionally, you can use stems in soup or stew dishes.
Freezing broccoli is a great way to store and preserve your broccoli. In addition, it allows you to buy more at on time instead of making multiple trips to the market or to buy them every time.
Once you perform the steps and have done it a few times, you’ll see it doesn’t take much time to complete them. The addition of a salad spinner to your arsenal helps dry the broccoli much faster.
Freezing broccoli allows them to be stored up to one year without any worries. This cruciferous vegetable is one of the healthiest you can eat. Using frozen ones are easy to cook with and hassle free, enjoy!
More Food Storage
- PennState Extension: Freezing Vegetables
- USDA: Picking a Winner – Tips and Insight to Selecting Seasonal Produce
- National Center for Home Food Preservation: Freezing Broccoli
- University of Georgia: So Easy To Preserve
- Statesman Journal: Garden advice: How to freeze your garden broccoli and cauliflower
- The Washington Post: How to freeze fresh vegetables while preserving their best qualities
- Glad: How to Freeze and Store Broccoli
- USDA: Freezing Your Garden’s Harvest
- USDA: Always in Season: Frozen Broccoli 5-Ways