After a hearty meal, you might have some leftover cooked greens. But don't worry! You can always store them in the freezer for later. So, for how long can you store cooked greens in the freezer? We've extensively researched this subject. Here's what the experts recommend.
Cooked greens can be kept in the freezer for up to 12 months. This largely depends on the type of greens and storage conditions. Cooked greens should be well-prepped before storage. Here are steps to follow when storing your cooked greens in the freezer:
- Choose the right containers or wraps for storage
- Ensure the temperature is constant in the freezer for the intended storage time
As you can see, freezing cooked vegetables needs care and some planning for better results. Please continue reading as we discuss more about what you can and cannot do.
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How To Best Keep Cooked Greens In The Freezer
Storage containers to use
Ideally, you should pick containers that can handle frost well. There are a variety of containers in the market for every pocket. The primary feature for food storage containers in the freezer is that they should be air-tight. Alternatively, you may use heavy-duty freezer bags or aluminum foil.
Freezer bags freeze food faster and help it to thaw faster too. You should squeeze as much air out of the bag before you seal it. Do not use ordinary storage bags. They are not suitable for very cold temperatures. This is because they are thinner and could rip easily.
Plastic and glass food containers
Freezer and microwave-safe plastic or glass containers with proper-fitting lids can be used. Just be sure to leave them at room temperature to thaw. Don’t put them in the microwave immediately after taking them from the freezer. Due to drastic temperature changes, they might break or melt.
Lastly, we have silicone containers. They remain quite flexible even after being in the freezer for long periods of time. These thick silicone bags/containers are reusable and cost-efficient. They come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. These bags/ containers are dishwasher and microwave safe.
Remember to label your containers or wraps. Write dates and the type of cooked greens in each container, particularly opaque containers, to avoid opening and re-opening.
Maintain Constant Temperature In the freezer
Maintain a temperature of below 0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. To ensure that you stick to this, use a thermometer. Some freezers are equipped with numbered regulators. Check in the freezer’s manual to see which temperatures and shelves are meant for greens.
Set your freezer to the temperature desired hours before storage. Scientists and nutritionists advise rapidly freezing your vegetables. When vegetables are frozen rapidly, they form smaller ice crystals. This means that the greens are not soggy when thawed.
Do not overload your freezer. Make sure to store according to the capacity that your freezer can handle. An overloaded freezer will result in the slow freezing of your cooked greens. This ultimately lowers the nutrition value of your greens.
For better results, you could vacuum seal your greens. This helps slow down the multiplication of bacteria. Make sure your storage containers of choice are clean and sterile. Always handle the food with clean hands and on a clean work surface. When cooked greens are properly frozen, the nutritional value is maintained.
How do you prepare your greens for freezing?
Your cooked greens need to be at room temperature before putting them in the freezer. Cooked greens should be left on the kitchen counter for an hour to cool. Use a colander to drain any excess liquid. You could also squeeze the greens with your hands. Dry cooked greens freeze better.
Freeze your cooked greens in portions meant for a meal serving. Expel as much air as possible from your freezer bags. Try not to overfill freezer bags. Stack your containers or wraps flat in the freezer.
Can you freeze greens without cooking them?
Absolutely! Just make sure your greens are properly washed in cold water. Soak the greens in a container with cold water for some time. The water helps loosen any dirt on the greens. You can put the greens on a clean kitchen towel or paper towels and pat them dry.
At this stage, you may want to chop your greens or leave them whole. Pre-freeze your raw greens before freezing them completely. Pre-freezing has a similar effect as blanching. Leafy greens take a lot of storage space in the freezer.
Some greens such as kale, spinach, and collard greens can be blanched for three minutes to help keep that fresh flavor. Rinse the greens immediately in cold water to stop further cooking. Blanched greens are ideal for smoothie lovers. They also retain their vibrant colors.
Ensure that you remove any excess moisture on them to avoid the greens from getting freezer burn. You can portion them before putting them in freezer bags. This enables you to take the exact amount you need.
How do you thaw frozen greens?
Plan ahead when thawing greens. It can be time-consuming. There are multiple methods for thawing your frozen greens:
- You can place your greens in the refrigerator overnight to thaw.
- Once you have taken your greens from the freezer, let them sit on the kitchen counter until they have thawed completely. This works well for cooked and raw greens.
- You can also put the freezer bags or containers in a cold bath. Change the cold water at intervals of 20-40 minutes. The cold water will help thaw the greens without disintegrating them.
- Another option is the microwave. Use an interval of 20 seconds to thaw. New models of microwaves have thaw settings that help thaw food faster.
Do not throw your greens in a hot or warm bath to thaw. This can further wilt the greens and cause them to lose vital nutrients.
How do you reheat frozen greens?
Frozen greens can be put in a microwave or in a pot on the stove.
When you thaw your greens using the microwave, cook them immediately. Microwaves do not thaw food evenly. According to food safety precautions, once food has been heated to a particular temperature, bacteria may begin to grow.
If you want to reheat using a pot, use low to medium heat. Cover your cooking pot with a lid to trap the steam. A gradual heating process enables the greens to thaw evenly. Serve your greens immediately after reheating them.
Freezing your cooked greens properly for any amount of time saves you time and money. As we have seen, frozen cooked greens stay nutritious for long. This means that you can always enjoy your greens no matter the time of the year. Whether the greens are from your garden or the farmers' market, you can freeze them for colder seasons, but remember to pick young tender vibrant-colored greens for long-term storage in the freezer.