Simple Steps to Freeze and Store Vegetables
- don't let your garden harvest go to waste -

Posted on August 27, 2016

Simple Steps to Freeze and Store Vegetables
If your vegetable garden is producing more than you can use in your weekly meals (lucky you!), then follow these steps to freeze and store your extra harvest to use over the next eight to twelve months.

The first thing to know is almost all vegetables can be frozen to use later. As a rule, it's best not to freeze vegetables with a high-water content that are eaten fresh in salads, such as celery, cucumbers and lettuce.

The second thing to know is it doesn't take long and it's simple to do. Another great aspect about freezing vegetables is you can prepare as much or as little at a time as you'd like, depending on whether you want to prepare a one-time, small batch or a year-long, family supply.

1. Pick Your Ripe Vegetables

Harvest vegetables at their peak of ripeness and wash them well.

2. Prep Vegetables Before Freezing

Boil Vegetables - Green Beans over Boiling Pot of Water, Cool in Ice Bath - Asparagus in Water with Ice Cubes
Prepare and blanch each vegetable as recommended below. Blanching is the process of heating vegetables in boiling water, then plunging them in iced water to stop cooking. The benefit of blanching is it preserves the vitamins, flavor and color of frozen vegetables. Drain the blanched vegetables thoroughly.


Pile of Asparagus on wooden cutting board

Asparagus

Trim the cut ends. Blanch the entire stalk for 2-4 minutes. Alternatively, cut the stalks into 2-3" pieces.

Wooden bowl of green beans

Beans

Trim the stem ends. Blanch the whole bean for 3 minutes. Alternatively, cut the beans into 2-3" pieces.

Bowl of broccoli and cauliflower florets

Broccoli & Cauliflower

Cut the heads into 1" florets. Blanch for 3 minutes.

Cabbage Head Sliced in Half with Pile of Shredded Cabbage

Cabbage

Cut the leaves from the core. Either shred or separate the individual leaves. Blanch for 1 and a half minutes.

Bunch of Orange Carrots with Green Tops

Carrots

Trim the ends and peel before cutting into 1/4" slices or cubes. Blanch for 2-5 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces.

Three Ears of Corn Partially Husked

Corn

Remove the husk and silk. Blanch the entire ear for 6-9 minutes, depending on its size. Alternatively, cut the kernels off the cob to save space.

Pile of Peas in the Pod

Peas, Snow/Snap/Shelling

Remove the fibrous strings from peas. Then remove the peas from the pod if they are a shelling type. Blanch for 1-2 minutes.

Red, Yellow, and Green Orange Peppers in a Wooden Bowl

Peppers

Remove the stems and seeds. Blanch for 2-3 minutes. Peppers can be hollowed for stuffing, diced, cut into strips or quartered. If the peppers will be used within 2-3 months, then skip the blanching step.

Pile of spinach and kale leaves

Spinach, Kale & Swiss Chard

Remove the stems or ribs and chop. Blanch for 2-3 minutes.

Pile of Yellow and Green Summer squash

Summer Squash & Zucchini

Cut them into 1/2" slices, horizontal slices or hollow them out. Blanch for 3 minutes. Alternatively, grate the squash before freezing.

Basket Full of Red, Yellow, Orange Tomatoes of Different Sizes

Tomatoes

If you decide to keep the tomatoes whole, remove the core after blanching. This will make it easier to run them through a food processor when half-thawed. If the tomatoes will be used within 2-3 months, then skip the blanching step.

Orange, Green, White, Yellow Winter squash of Different Shapes

Winter Squash

Fully cook winter squash and cut to the desired size.

3. Separate and Freeze the Veggies

Lay the vegetables on a cookie sheet in a single layer and slide it into the freezer for at least six hours. This freezes the individual pieces, which are easier to use later because they will not stick together in one large clump.

4. Store the Frozen Vegetables

Frozen Cubed Sweet Potato being Spooned into a Plastic Bag
Put the frozen vegetable pieces in freezer-safe containers and squeeze out as much air as possible. Extra air causes some vegetables to develop unwanted flavors. Don't forget to label each container with the contents and date.

Pro Tip: If freezing a liquid, such as a tomato sauce or vegetable puree, allow some extra air in the container for expansion.

Now that you know the basic steps of freezing vegetables, consider the mix-and-match possibilities. It's not necessary to keep all the vegetables separated when freezing batches. For example, if you like peas and carrots go ahead and premix them in the freezer bag for an easy side dish in a few months' time.

Looking for more ways to Preserve Your Summer Harvest?

3 Plastic Bags in Freezer with Cauliflower, Green Beans and Corn

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