Monday, August 8, 2011

More on Blanching: Green Beans and Broccoli

Today I decided to do a little more blanching.  We had some Green Beans and Broccoli that were ready.  For your information I am posting the how to on the blog.  I didn't take any pictures, but it is all pretty much self explanatory.

All fruits and vegetables contain enzymes and bacteria that, over time, break down the destroy nutrients and change the color, flavor, and texture of food during frozen storage. 

Blanching Green Beans

A bowl of green beans -any amount.  I do about a handful per person as a serving. 

What you will need:

A pot of boiling water with a lid
A bowl of ice water
A collander
Freezer bags or Vacuum Seal

Step 1- Go get your beans. You want them as fresh as you can get them. The best is to pick your beans right before you prepare them for freezing. Morning is also the best time to pick your vegetables. Make sure your beans are ripe, but not too ripe. You don't want dried out, bruised, or too ripe beans. They won't taste very good later on.

Step 2- Wash and cut your beans.
To cut your beans, simply cut the ends off.  I also like to cut my beans to about an inch and a half.  This way they are easier for the kids to eat. If you want french cut beans cut them lengthwise.
Step 3- Blanch Beans.
Place your beans into boiling water for 3 minutes.

Step 4-Cool Beans (typing that just made me smile)
Immediately remove from boiling water and place in ice water to stop the cooking process. Keep in water until completely cooled. A general rule of thumb would be to keep in water as long as it was in the boiling water.
Step 5-Drain your peas.

Step 6- Seal and freeze.
Now you are ready to seal. I love my vacuum sealer. Things tend to stay fresher and don't get freezer burned. However, if you don't have one you can place your beans into freezer bags. Just make sure to get out as much air as you can before placing in the freezer.

How to Freeze Broccoli

fresh broccoli - any quantity. When freezing veggies I generally do about 1 handful per person as a serving.

1 Large pot of boiling water
2 large bowls, one filled with cold water and ice.
1 sharp knife
Vacuum food sealer (You can also use Ziploc baggies if you don't have a sealer.  Use the heavy duty baggies)
Step 1 - Harvest your broccoli. We didn't grow broccoli this year, but I did get some in my Bountiful Basket that I didn't want to go to waste. Make sure your broccoli is FRESH and CRISP.  Using limp, old broccoli doesn't taste good before freezing so it of course will taste nasty frozen.

Broccoli are of the best quality when they are tight, before the florets start to open or turn yellow.

Step 2 - Wash the broccoli!
You do know how to do this without me explaining how to right?

Step 3 -Split the broccoli
Split lengthwise so florets are no more than 1 1/2 inches across. Remove leaves and woody portions. Separate the heads into convenient-size sections.

Step 4 - Soak the florets in brine (salt water)
Brine= 4 teaspoons salt to 1 gallon tap water
Soaking in a brine will help remove any creepy crawlies that may have found a home in your broccoli.  Soak for 30 minutes and then rinse under running water.
Step 5- Get the pots ready
Fill a pot 2/3 full with water and bring to a boil.  Fill another large bowl with ice and cold water.

Step 6 - Blanch the broccoli.
Blanching times for broccoli is 3 minutes
Begin counting the blanching time as soon as you place the broccoli in the boiling water. Cover the pot and boil at a high temperature for 3 minutes. You may use the same blanching water several times (up to 5). Be sure to add more hot water from the tap from time to time to keep the water level at the required height.

Step 7 - Cool the broccoli
Cool broccoli immediately in ice water.
After vegetables are blanched, cool them quickly to prevent overcooking. Plunge the broccoli into a large quantity of ice-cold water (I keep adding more ice to it). A good rule of thumb: Cool for the same amount of time as the blanch step. For instance, if you blanch sweet broccoli for 3 minutes, then cool in ice water for at least 3 minutes.

Drain thoroughly.

Step 8 - Bag the broccoli
I love my FoodSaver for this step.  However you can use Ziploc bags.  Make sure you use the heavy duty freezer bags and get all air out to prevent drying and freezer burn. 

Step 9 - Freeze and enjoy later!