We thought we’d talk a bit about freezing veggies now that we’re into mid-August and beans are in full swing. It can be a great way to store some crops so that you can use them in the colder months, especially if you can’t keep up with what you’re harvesting.
What veg (and other crops) can I freeze?
There are many vegetables that you should be able to successfully store for many months without freezing them. These include potatoes, root veg and squashes/pumpkins (although you could puree them first and then freeze them), as well as onions and garlic.
The ones that are better suited to freezing are beans and peas, leaves, brassicas. Veggies with higher water content, like tomatoes, aubergines and courgettes, can be frozen too, but will lose their texture a bit (lightly saute them first for better results)
You can easily freeze soft fruits, like berries and currants. Some herbs will freeze well, and you can always make a herb butter, or fill ice cube trays with herbs and oil as an alternative way to freeze them.
Should I blanche/cook them first?
Blanching your veg first is not strictly necessary and we know plenty of gardeners who just put their veg straight from the plot into freezer. If you think they will not be used within a month or two, you may prefer to blanch them as this will kill off some of the enzymes that cause them to deteriorate and thus prolong their freezer shelf life.
If blanching before freezing, boil the veggies for 1 min before straining them and plunging them into ice cold water to cool them down quickly before you then drain them and freeze them.
Some leafy veggies will do better steamed rather than blanched in boiling water. For example, spinach and chard.
Soft fruits needn’t be cooked at all, you can just pop them into a bag or container and freeze immediately after picking.
How long will they last?
Around 6-12 months is a realistic expectation.
Top tips by crop:
These are our preferred ways to freeze vegetables, but by no means not the only way to do things.
Aubergine – slice, sauté and freeze
Beans – blanche and freeze in bags, or put straight into freezer if you expect to eat them within a month or so.
Beetroot – freeze as a puree, or par-boil and freeze ready for roasting
Broccoli – lightly steam florets before freezing
Brussels Sprouts – blanche and freeze
Cabbage – Shred, blanche and freeze
Carrot – chop, blanche and freeze, or puree first.
Cauliflower – lightly steam florets before freezing
Chilli – freeze whole (you can use them from frozen)
Courgette/Summer Squash – sauté and freeze
Fruit (soft) – freeze whole as soon as possible after harvesting
Herbs – pick off leaves and freeze whole, or chop and mix into butter and slice into rounds before freezing. Alternatively, mix with oil, fill ice trays and freeze into cubes.
Leek – freeze whole (wash first)
Parsnip & other roots – parboil ready for roasting, or puree, then freeze
Pea – freeze whole (pod garden peas first)
Pepper – Cut into strips/deseed and then freeze
Potato – parboil ready for roasting, or puree, then freeze
Spinach/Chard – lightly steam and freeze
Sweetcorn – remove leaves from husks and freeze whole
Tomato – freeze whole for using in soups etc
General top tips:
- If you’re freezing without blanching/cooking then it’s often a good idea to lay the veggies out on baking sheets so that they are not touching before freezing them. Then once they are frozen you can put them into bags.
- If blanching, cool veg down quickly afterwards by plunging them into ice cold water. Dry them off and cool down further in the fridge before freezing.
- If you’re planning to freeze veg, then it really is best to harvest them young as these will have the best and most lasting flavour and texture.
- Label your crops – putting things in the freezer and then not remembering what they are 6 months later is easily done!
- Don’t forget that you can always make pasta sauces, soups and stews etc and then freeze them.