Blanching and cooling vegetables for freezing

Yield: 1 servings

Measure Ingredient

BLANCHING AND COOLING

BLANCHING Blanching is a brief heat treatment given to vegetables before they're packaged and frozen. Its purpose is to stop the action of enzymes, which can destroy the fresh flavor of vegetables and cause off colors. If you want to successfully freeze vegetables, it's generally necessary to blanch them before freezing. This simple technique also helps seal in vitamins, brightens the color of vegetables to be frozen, and shrinks them slightly to make packing easier. When freezing herbs or vegetables such as green onions or hot peppers, which are to be used for flavoring only, blanching isn't necessary.

Follow blanching times given in the freezing recipes precisely.

Blanching for too short a time is worse than not blanching at all, enzyme action will be stimulated instead of stopped. And, if blanched for too long a time, your vegetables will cook, losing vitamins, minerals, flavor and color.

Use one gallon of water per pound of vegetables, or two gallons for leafy greens. Blanching water must be boiling when you lower the vegetables into it. Fill the blancher with vegetables and lower it into boiling water; start timing as soon as the vegetables have gone into the boiling water. You may keep the blancher covered during the blanching period or keep the heat on high and stir frequently. If you live at 5,000 feet or more above sea level, blanch one minute longer than the times specified in each recipe.

When blanching a large quantity of vegetables, start with only the amount that can be blanched and cooled in a 15 minute period, and put the rest in the refrigerator. Package, label, and freeze each blanched group before starting on the next. you can use the same blanching water for several batches of vegetables, adding additional boiling water from a teakettle to replace water lost through evaporation. If you wish, change the water when it becomes cloudy.

Keep a second pot or large teakettle boiling, so you won't be delayed when the time comes to change the blanching water.

COOLING After vegetables have been precooked the exact amount of time, remove them immediately from the boiling water and cool them. This is crucial for keeping the heating process from continuing past the proper period for each vegetable or food. Transfer the vegetables quickly from the blancher to the ice water. The kitchen sink is a good spot for holding ice water to cool vegetables, but if you want it free for other uses, put the ice water in a plastic dish pan or other large, clean container.

Be sure to add new ice to the ice water frequently, so it stays as cold as possible. You'll need plenty of ice on hand to keep the cooling water really cold. Plan on one pound of ice for every pound of vegetables you're going to freeze. To have a ready supply when you need it, you'll have to stock up in advance.

Source: Vegetable Gardening Encyclopedia Typos by Dorothy Flatman 1995 Submitted By DOROTHY FLATMAN On 09-28-95

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