How to Blanch
When preparing fresh vegetables for the freezer, the best way to do it is to blanch them. Canning vegetables is another method of storage that doesn’t rely on electricity to keep fresh, but I’m not going into canning here. For the freezer storage method, clean the vegetables (which is the most time-consuming part of the whole process. Turn on an audiobook or watch the birds out the window while you work!), then briefly submerge portions in boiling water for a couple of minutes. Immediately plunge them into an ice bath.
The quick cooking softens them and sets their color, and the ice stops the cooking process.
Then you dry the vegetables and freeze them. To dry them off, you can spread them in clean dish towels and squeeze or blot them dry, or you can drag out that old salad spinner that has lived in the cupboard for twenty years and put it to good use. If the veggies are pieces, then for ease of use you separate them on a cookie sheet and freeze for about half an hour or less, then pour them into freezer containers. For clumps, such as with Swiss chard, spinach, kale or other leafy greens, spread them out as thinly as you can on a cookie sheet and freeze, then break up and put into freezer containers. When you go to use them they won’t be frozen into one big blob, and you can use what you want to and reseal. Be sure to mark the container with the date.
I’ve just had an enormous snow pea harvest, as well as three plastic grocery bags stuffed full of Swiss chard. To save water, I cleaned all the chard and a plastic grocery bag half full of snow peas, then blanched the peas first and then the chard. Besides washing the peas and chard (look back a few posts about how to cook Swiss chard), the peas had their stems pinched off and any tough vein stripped from the sides. The chard was de-stemmed and torn up. All this preparation might seem to be too much work. However, I have frozen freshly grown organic vegetables whenever I want them, and there is nothing… I repeat nothing… so good as to eat produce you raised yourself and to feed all that love and care and work and sunshine to your family.
When finished you’ll have a lot of dark water. Don’t throw it out! It is heavy with vitamins from the produce. Some hard-core enthusiasts would add it to soups or smoothies, or drink it. I cool it and water my plants with it. I try to be healthy, but some things are just going too far!