With its distinctive peppery taste, it is undeniable that arugula is a utilitarian ingredient in the kitchen. Some people stock up on this wondrous herb, knowing it only thrives in spring through summer. Storing it is easy. But keeping it fresh with its original flavor can prove to be challenging. We asked experts and found the best way you can keep it fresh and flavorful.
According to several kitchen experts, you can freeze arugula without going through a 30-second blanching process. This salad rocket is best frozen fresh while immersed in olive oil to avoid unintentionally removing its slightly spicy verve and flavor, which blanching expels.
While you can freeze arugula, opinions about the proper way to do it are divided. Some recommend blanching the leaves before freezing, while others advise directly popping arugula leaves into the freezer is the right method. But which should you follow? This article will clear the confusion. So continue reading to learn more.
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how to store arugula in the freezer
Arugula is one of those greens packed with nutrients, such as calcium, potassium, folate, and vitamins C, K, and A. To efficiently get the health benefits that come with these nutrients, don’t ever blanch arugula. Instead, follow the steps below to keep the nutrient goodies intact.
Steps in preparing arugula for freezing
1. Wash salad rocket with water
Wash the leafy greens with water to eliminate the bacteria that may be living on the surface of the leaves. It’s essential that you make sure that every leaf is free of any debris to further reduce the possibility of early quality decline.
To take your bacteria elimination process up a notch, add vinegar to the water you’re using to wash arugula. The acidity of vinegar targets the cell membrane of bacteria living on the leaves' surface, completely killing it.
2. Pat dry with a damp towel
After washing them, make sure to spread the leaves on a tray or a clean surface. Gently pat the leaves with a damp towel or a paper napkin to remove the remaining water on them. The leaves must be completely dry for the fourth step to work its magic.
3. Chop arugula leaves
Chop the leaves in sizes of your preference. Place the chopped arugula in a pie tin or an ice cube tray. Why should you chop the arugula leaves? Because their length can be obtrusive when you proceed to the next step.
4. Soak in olive oil
Pour in the olive oil in the pie tin or ice cube tray filled with arugula leaves. Ensure the leaves are completely immersed in the oil to keep the flavor of arugula sealed even if a long time passes.
Why should you use olive oil and not other varieties of oils? Olive oil has been used for thousands of years in preserving food, especially in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean. This particular oil acts as a seal that keeps the flavor in food ingredients like arugula. Plus, it also helps in extending the shelf life of the salad and reinforces the health benefits found in preserved foods.
5. Pre-freeze olive oil-soaked arugula
Once the arugula leaves are immersed in olive oil, put the pie tin or ice cube tray in the freezer and wait 2 to 3 hours or until it has frozen completely.
Steps in packaging arugula for freezing
1. Put frozen arugula in containers
The freezing process of arugula is almost the same as asparagus.
Once the arugula is frozen, break or slice them into small pieces. This way, you can only thaw the ones you’ll be using in the future.
Put the pre-frozen arugula in airtight containers or freezer bags that you can vacuum seal.
Finally, pop the containers in the freezer, and you now have a frozen stock of arugula when you need it.
You can keep the arugula in the freezer indefinitely without worrying about its original flavor wearing away.
Can you freeze fresh arugula?
But take note, freezing arugula fresh without immersing it in olive oil is also safe to do, provided that you use it within 2 to 3 days of buying it. Everyone would agree that arugula is best used fresh anyway. And again, blanching isn’t necessary unless you want to eat arugula without the spicy punch and other mixes of flavors.
Can you freeze arugula for smoothies?
Frozen arugula can be used for almost any food or refreshment you want to add a new flavorful kick in like a smoothie.
Yes, arugula is delicious raw. But this nutrient-dense cruciferous food that is high in fiber and low in sugar and carbs is actually a good smoothie addition for that extra detoxifying properties.
You can either create a smoothie with arugula being the main ingredient if you’re one to love its combination of a bit bitter, spicy flavor. Or you can also just mix it up in your fruit smoothie.
Can you freeze arugula pesto?
And for those braver souls with an extra stock of arugula who just can’t get enough of the peppery taste of arugula, making a pesto out of it is most definitely an option. With just a simple mix of arugula, lemon juice, salt, and garlic or walnut, you can easily create your homemade arugula pesto.
But what if you made too much? Don’t worry because you can definitely freeze arugula pesto. Spoon the extra arugula pesto into an ice cube tray, cover it with plastic to avoid contamination, and place it in the freezer for a quick freeze.
Once the pesto is frozen solid, transfer them into a zipper freezer bag or airtight container, and then store them in the freezer. You now have instant pesto you can use when you want a healthy chicken dip or salad dressing.
Ways to enjoy arugula
Whether fresh or frozen, there’s almost an endless list of ways to use arugula (the following two being an addition to smoothie and pesto mentioned above).
Raw arugula recipes
Arugula is delicious when raw. This is why you can easily find a lot of salad recipes online, such as arugula salad with Parmesan cheese with a hint of lemon. Another recipe you can try making is this arugula sandwich that challenges the unhealthy commercialized ones.
Cooked arugula recipes
Meanwhile, if you want arugula cooked, you can never go wrong with wilted arugula with mushrooms or this chicken with arugula and mustard pan sauce.
There are more of these raw and cooked arugula recipes you can try. Just scour the internet, and you will surely stumble upon one that suits your taste.
To Sum Up
Arugula is a popular green vegetable you can use to add flair and nutrients to your recipes. This is the reason why a lot more people are looking for alternative ways to store it without affecting the phytochemicals it contains. Freezing it using olive oil without blanching is the best solution for this. Follow the steps in this blog, so you can have the best-tasting arugula the next time you use it in your recipe.