Broccoli is a very nutritious vegetable. As such, it comes as no surprise that caterers, restaurants, and even households would need to keep a stockpile of this vegetable in the freezer. Nevertheless, a misinformed cook may freeze the broccoli in a way that would turn it brown, soggy, and tasteless. How, then, should you freeze broccoli? How long will it stay fresh? Don’t worry because we have done our research to help you prepare and freeze your broccoli in the most optimal way.
To freeze broccoli in the best way possible, you should:
- First, wash it thoroughly to remove all the dirt.
- Afterward, trim the stems and cut the florets in your preferred sizes.
- Proceed to blanch the vegetable in steam or boiling water.
- Cool the broccoli off in an ice bath.
- Drain the broccoli by removing it from the water.
- Put it in an airtight container before putting it in the freezer.
If you follow the steps thoroughly, you can rest assured that you can keep your broccoli fresh, crunchy, and healthy for a long time. How long will it stay fresh in the freezer? Can it go bad while frozen? We searched far and wide for the answers and more, so continue reading to learn everything there is to know about freezing broccoli!
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How Do You Prepare Fresh Broccoli For Freezing?
Freezing vegetables is easy, but there is an optimal way of doing so. Doing the following series of steps will ensure that your broccoli will stay green, fresh, healthy, and tasty even after months in the freezer:
Wash your broccoli under running water. Afterward, submerge the broccoli under cold water, agitating it to dislodge all dirt and debris. Cut off the woody stems and divide the broccoli based on how you intend to prept. You can choose to cut it into smaller portions or grate it.
To avoid wasting vegetables, you can peel the stalks with a vegetable peeler. Afterward, prepare an ice bath and boil a pot of water. You will use the pot of water either for blanching or for steaming.
Method 1: Blanching
For the best results, you should boil 2 gallons of water for every pound of broccoli. Place the broccoli in a blancher or perforated metal strainer and lower it into the boiling water. Start your timer when the water comes back to a boil. You should blanch the broccoli for 2 to 3 minutes. Cover the pot.
Method 2: Steaming
For steaming, boil 1 to 2 inches of water. The water should not be too hot; instead, it should boil under medium-high heat. Place the broccoli in a steamer basket and lay it on top of the boiling water to steam. Cover the pot. Start the timer immediately and leave it there for 5 minutes.
Cooling The Broccoli
After blanching or steaming, place the broccoli immediately in ice water. The vegetable should stay in the ice bath for the same amount of time it was in the boiling water. Stir it now and then during the cooling process.
Dry The Broccoli
Take the broccoli out of the ice bath once it has completely cooled down. Drain your vegetables thoroughly and lay the pieces out on a tray. To dry it further, you can pat dry the broccoli with a paper towel.
Once the broccoli is completely dry, you can place the tray itself in the freezer. When it is completely frozen, take the broccoli and put it in an airtight freezer bag. Remember to press out the air and seal tightly.
Can You Freeze Fresh Broccoli Without Blanching?
Yes, you can absolutely freeze fresh broccoli without blanching. However, experts do not recommend freezing vegetables without doing it. According to the University of Minnesota, blanching vegetables halts the enzyme action that causes the loss of flavor, color, and texture.
If you freeze fresh broccoli without blanching or steaming first, you will end up with a vegetable that is brown, soft, and mushy. Blanching and steaming also kills or reduces the bacteria present in the vegetable, increasing the broccoli’s shelf life.
How Long Can You Store Frozen Broccoli?
You can store broccoli in the freezer for 8 to 12 months. Of course, it is still best to use your vegetables as soon as possible. Using your vegetables immediately will ensure that they keep their freshness and nutritional value. While they may stay edible and good for up to 12 months, they will only do so under certain conditions.
If you absolutely need to extend the shelf life of broccoli, remember to keep it frozen at a constant temperature of 0° F.
Can Broccoli Go Bad In The Freezer?
Unfortunately, broccoli can still go bad in the freezer despite having an incredibly long shelf life. Broccoli can spoil in the freezer if exposed to constant temperature changes or taken out of the freezer for too long. Spoilage happens because freezing does not kill bacteria. Once frozen food—in this case, broccoli—is thawed, the bacteria in it will start to multiply rapidly and cause the food to go bad. This reason highlights the importance of keeping frozen food at a constant freezing point.
However, this does not mean that you cannot refreeze broccoli when you take it out. A good rule to follow is that you can put your frozen vegetables back in the freezer if they still have particles of ice on them. This hints that they are still near freezing point and technically still frozen.
Once broccoli thaws or defrosts, the bacteria on the vegetables restart their reproduction process, which in turn causes rapid spoilage. As long as the broccoli is kept frozen, this process remains at a halt.
Can You Freeze Grated Broccoli?
Yes, you can freeze grated broccoli. Grated broccoli or broccoli rice is made by putting broccoli in a food processor, chopping it finely, or shredding it with a cheese grater. As such, you can freeze grated broccoli but make sure that you follow the blanching or steaming process first.
If you cooked the broccoli rice, especially by sautéing it, you could still freeze it. Keep the broccoli rice in an airtight container such as a freezer bag before placing it in the freezer. Remember to consume it within 2 weeks and immediately once thawed.
How do you Thaw Frozen Broccoli?
There are multiple ways of thawing your broccoli. Just remember that once thawed, the broccoli should be cooked immediately to avoid spoilage. To keep your broccoli from going bad, you can freeze it in smaller batches or take only what you need. Doing this avoids exposing the whole bunch of vegetables to fluctuating temperatures.
Method 1. Defrosting broccoli
You can take the broccoli out of the freezer and leave it in the refrigerator overnight to completely thaw it. Use the broccoli immediately the next day.
Method 2. Boiling
Suppose you want to heat your broccoli instantly and prepare it for immediate cooking. In that case, you can plunge it into boiling water. Keep the vegetable in boiling water for a minute or two, and then take it out. Cook the broccoli as desired.
Method 3. Cook the broccoli immediately
If your dish is cooked by sautéing or roasting your broccoli, you can opt to use the vegetables frozen. Roasting or sautéing your broccoli does not affect the taste or texture of the vegetables that much. Once cooked this way, you can rest assured that your broccoli still has the same nutritional value while keeping its signature crunch.
There is a proper way of preparing and freezing fresh broccoli. It is crucial that you blanch it first to kill the bacteria and extend the vegetable’s life span up to 12 months. You can choose to skip blanching altogether; however, doing so will cause the broccoli to start browning and changing textures in the freezer. Remember to freeze broccoli in small portions and only to get what you need. After thawing, immediately use the vegetable to avoid spoilage.
If you cooked your broccoli or turned it into a dish, you can still freeze it; however, it has a maximum life span of 2 weeks and is best consumed immediately.
Equipping yourself with the right knowledge and following the proper way of freezing broccoli will ensure that your vegetables will stay green, fresh, and delicious for any dish, even if that dish is months away!