For daily wit & wisdom, sign up for the Almanac newsletter.
No content available.
Here’s how to freeze fresh broccoli, including how to trim fresh broccoli plants in the garden, whether you need to blanch it, and how to cut up broccoli to freeze for yummy recipes from quiches to soups and more!
Broccoli (Brassica oleracea) has many followers and also abundant detractors. For those who have only tasted the supermarket variety, I can surely understand the lack of enthusiasm expressed when this topic is raised.
If you have more broccoli than you can eat, freezing is a simple, easy, and convenient way to preserve vegetables. Freezing also preserves nutrients and saves money.
This sturdy plant begins by giving us a large head that needs to be trimmed and eaten before it becomes a flower. Choose young, tender vegetables to freeze.
Trim Broccoli in Garden at an Angle
When you’re ready to harvest your broccoli, it’s important to slice the stem at an angle. This allows any subsequent rain or watering to slide harmlessly down the side. If it is trimmed flat, water can pool on top and begin to rot in the center, thereby ruining the future crops that broccoli is waiting to deliver. Use a sharp knife or garden shears to cut off the stem at a slight angle, leaving about 2 to 3 inches of stalk beneath the broccoli crown.
Several days later, you can return to the plant to see two slightly smaller heads peeking up at you. Slice these off (again on an angle), and in another few days, there will be four even smaller heads to harvest. This process continues—with the heads getting tinier and tinier—until well after the first few frosts.
Wash and Cut Broccoli into Large Pieces
Before freezing my broccoli, I start by washing the stalks and shoots thoroughly in cold water so they’re both fresh and clean. Then I cut into large pieces.
I steam blanch my broccoli. Blanching is important for frozen vegetables to preserve the favor, nutrients, and texture. I place the broccoli in the top of a steamer and steam them for 5 minutes. Often, I will use tongs partway through and move the large stems around so that all of them get some heat.
If you have a steamer basket, you can suspend in steamer above several inches of rapidly boiling water and cover.
Cool and Drain Broccoli
I use my salad spinner next. I fill the base with cold water and add a bunch of ice. Putting the basket on top of the ice, I slip the steamed broccoli into the basket to cool it down. It’s important to cool any vegetables rapidly in ice water to keep them from cooking.
Next, I spin the broccoli to get off the extra water and place it carefully in bags. You may need to do this several times.
Pack and Freeze Broccoli
Pack vegetables tightly in freezer bags to save space. Squeeze air from bags before sealing. Here’s a photo of two bags of large broccoli for us, one for company and one for a stir-fry. When you’re ready to use the broccoli, it can be cooked without thawing, but cook in only 1/2 cup or less of water per pint package to maintain nutrients.
I always plant marigolds right in the beds with all of the brassicas (broccoli’s family). This greatly helps to keep the cabbage moth away. I didn’t find a single small, green worm when I harvested this broccoli. Otherwise, these worms can make a mess of the crop and render it unappetizing.
My cut broccoli will be taken out of the freezer and made into broccoli over toast with a cheesy sauce or added to baked chicken or pot roast. Some of it will be cut slightly smaller so that it can be added to chicken or steak stir-fries. The very small heads that come later will be used in quiches.
Recipes With Frozen Broccoli
Here are a few delicious recipes that work well with frozen broccoli: