Everyone loves fresh broccoli, whether steamed, stewed, fried, or ranch-dipped. However, what no one loves is the ever-hiking prices of broccoli, and the precious shortness of the broccoli season. So – what do we do when we need to preserve those great green heads of goodness without pickling or drying it? I know what I do.. I turn to my good friend, the freezer.
Where to Find Your Broccoli
If you’re lucky, and have space for a garden, this is easy. If you’re like me, and depend on the kindness of grocery suppliers, start shopping around. Keep an eye out for sales, and when broccoli prices start to drop, jump in your car and go! Lately, our local supermarket has had 2 lbs. of broccoli for $0.99, so my freezer is full of these tasty greens! I look carefully at each head, and leave the ones with brown spots or anything gross-looking in there. Once you’ve chosen, bought, and paid for the best heads of broccoli, drive ‘em to their inevitable fate… your freezer.
Take a Shower: Cleanliness is Next to Godliness!
No, you don’t need to take a shower; your broccoli does. After growing in dirt, possibly being sprayed with pesticides, walked on by bugs, and who-knows-what-else, being shipped to the store, and then being left on display, your broccoli heads are likely to have accumulated a degree of muck on their skin. A simple way to get rid of the muck is an all-natural vegetable wash – dilute white vinegar half-and-half with water, and you’re all set. Wash each individual head in the solution, then rinse under running water in your kitchen sink.
Broccoli Freezing: Cut & Blanch
You’re almost done! Now, steamer disk inside a pot with about two inches of water on the stove to come to a boil while you cut the broccoli. Next, remove the now-clean heads of broccoli from your sink, then, using a cutting board and sharp knife, slice the bottom from the stalk (just the very bottom, the rest of the stalk is perfectly good!) off, and then cut the remaining broccoli into pieces (big or small, it’s up to you!)
Once it’s all cut up, scoop up the broccoli pieces into the steamer section of the pot (which should be boiling by now) and put the lid on top. After THREE minutes, pull the steamer out of the pot, and wait for those gorgeous green bits of goodness to cool off. This process is called “blanching” the vegetables, and it’s a critical step to take before you freeze your veggies. (Don’t overcook, unless you’re looking to make broccoli soup with your frozen veggies.)
Broccoli Storage: Bag and Freeze!
Once the broccoli has cooled off enough to handle, pop it into ziploc bags in whichever serving sizes you prefer. I like to have various sizes, in case I want more or less broccoli on a particular day. Don’t forget to label the bags with a permanent marker, so you’ll know when you froze them! Once the bags are all full and labelled, suck the air out, seal ‘em up, and cheer! Now all you have to do is stick your bags in the freezer and pull them out on a cold winter’s day for soup, stir-fry or souffle.