Stocking up on canned or boxed items is easy, providing you have room in your pantry. However, when you find a great deal on produce and would like to stock up, how can you easily preserve it without losing the key vitamins and nutrients you bought it for in the first place? For today's Thrifty Thursday I'm going to show you a 10 minute technique I use to preserve a lot of vegetables I purchase. It's called blanching.
Blanching is a fast and easy process that keeps vegetables healthy and crisp, even after freezing. It stops enzyme actions which can cause loss of flavor, color and texture and is best for vegetables like asparagus, green beans, spinach, broccoli and cauliflower. Last week I had some fresh broccoli that needed to be used. Instead of coming up with 2-3 meals in the next few days that included broccoli, I decided to blanch it and just use it later on.
Here's how it's done...
Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil over high heat.
While the water heats, fill a large tub or bowl with ice water. I clean one side of my sink with cleanser, then just use that.
When the water is boiling and the ice bath is ready, trim the vegetables to a manageable size.
Add the vegetables to the boiling water in batches small enough to ensure that the water doesn't stop boiling.
Boil the vegetables according to the timetable here. Most vegetables take about 3 minutes.
As soon as the vegetables are done, remove them as fast as you can and submerge them in the ice bath, to stop them from cooking any further. Leave them in the ice bath for another 3-4 minutes, or until they're no longer warm.
Spread them out on a cloth to dry out. When sufficiently dry, I just place them all in a bag in my freezer and pull out stalks as needed.
To reheat the vegetables, you can use any cooking method you like! I like to steam my broccoli. Just remember it only takes half the time it normally takes, since you've already cooked them a few minutes prior to freezing.