Being able to store vegetables for a long period of time will provide you with a diverse diet and it will save you from eating the same food over and over again. Blanching vegetables is a skill easy to master and everyone can do it.
Blanching is a cooking process wherein the foods (usually vegetables or fruits) are plunged into boiling water, removed after a precise time interval and placed under cold running water or immersed into iced water to stop the cooking process. To put it simply, blanching slows or stops the enzyme action which is responsible for the loss of flavor, color and texture in vegetables or fruits. Basically, you are stopping the process of aging and spoilage so that the vegetables will keep better in the freezer.
This is a simple food preservation method that involves freezing the vegetables, right after the blanching process stops. The trick is to know exactly how much time you need to blanch the food and the blanching time varies with the variety and size of vegetables.
Related reading: Long-term food storage methods
If you under-blanch the vegetables, the activity of the enzyme is stimulated and it will be worse than not blanching them. On the other hand, if you over-blanch the vegetables, it will cause a loss of flavor, color, vitamins and minerals.
An easy to follow blanching method:
- First wash, drain and sort the vegetables
- Trim and cut the vegetables as for cooking fresh
- You will need to use one gallon of water per pound of prepared vegetables. If you plant to blanch leafy greens, you will need two gallons of water
- Put the vegetables into the blancher of your choice (a perforated metal strainer or a wire basket will work just great) and lower into boiling water
- Cover the blancher with a lid and count the blanching time as given in the direction below
- The heat must be kept high for the entire blanching time
- Cool the vegetables immediately in ice water for the same time used in blanching. You will have to stir the vegetables a few times to make sure they are all soaked evenly.
- Drain the vegetables thoroughly and place them into containers.
- Place the containers into the freezer and separate all the containers by about an inch so that cooling takes place quickly.
- The following day stack everything together so that you can save space
Recommended reading: Food preservation using oil
Blanching time for vegetables:
Keep in mind that the beginning timing is from when the water boils after adding the vegetables.
Artichoke (Globe Hearts) – 7 minutes
Artichoke (Jerusalem) – 5 minutes
Asparagus – 2 minutes for small stalks and 4 minutes for large stalks
Beans, Snap, Green – 3 minutes
Beans, Lima, Pinto, Butter – 3 minutes for small beans and 4 minutes for large beans
Beets – 7 to 25 minute, until tender
Broccoli – 3 minutes
Brussels Sprouts – 3 minutes for the small heads and 5 minutes for the big ones
Cabbage or Chinese Cabbage – 1 ½ minute for shredded cabbage and 3 minutes for wedges
Carrots – 5 minutes for whole carrots and 2 minutes for diced or sliced carrots
Celery – 3 minutes
Corn kernels – 6 minutes
Eggplant – 4 minutes
Greens – 3 minutes for collards and 2 minutes for all the others
Kohlrabi – 3 minutes for whole and 1 minute for cubes
Mushrooms – 5 minutes for whole mushrooms, 3 ½ for buttons and 3 minutes for slices. The mushrooms will darken and some people chose to add lime to slow the darkening process.
Okra – 3 minutes for small pods and 4 minutes for large pods
Onions – 7 minutes for whole onions and 15 seconds for onion rings
Parsnips – 3 minutes
Peas – 2 minutes
Peppers (sweet) – 3 minutes for halves and 2 minutes for strips or rings
Potatoes – 3 to 5 minutes depending on the size
Rutabagas – 3 minutes
Soybeans (green) 3 minutes
Summer squash – 3 minutes
Turnips – 3 minutes
Tomatoes don’t freeze very well and will become mushy over time. You can freeze them whole and when you wish to use them, plunge the frozen tomatoes into hot water for a few seconds and slip the skins off.
Blanching is easier than you think and you should try it! It’s a useful method for preserving food and although it requires electricity for your freezer, it will help you diversify your diet, it will provide you with the vitamins and minerals you need, and most importantly, it will provide you with flavor.
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