Blanching a must when freezing vegies

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 9, 2003

Freezing is usually the preferred method of storing vegetables from our gardens.

However, much of the time and effort of gardening and packing fresh vegetables is wasted because people do not want to take the time to blanch them before putting them in the freezer.

Blanching is not only beneficial for freezing vegetables, it is a must if you want a good product.

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Peppers and onions are about the only exceptions to the blanching rule.

Blanching stops the action of enzymes that will otherwise destroy the fresh flavor after about 4 to 6 weeks of freezer storage.

In addition, blanching removes dirt and bacteria.

It is important that blanching be done correctly and that you follow the recommended blanching time for the specific vegetable.

Under-blanching stimulates the enzyme action that destroys flavor; over blanching removes color and vitamins.

To blanch, bring one gallon of water to a vigorous boil in a water blancher.

Keep the stove at its highest heat.

Place only one pound of vegetables at a time in blanching basket so that water can circulate around each piece.

The moment the water comes back to a boil, start timing.

You can use the same blanching water for several batches of the same vegetable.

If you are blanching leafy vegetables, such as turnip or collard greens, use two gallons of boiling water to prevent the leaves from matting together.

Once the vegetables have blanched, remove them from the boiling water.

They need to be cooled as quickly as possible to stop cooking.

Probably the best method is to place the blanched vegetables in a pan of ice water.

Depending on the vegetable, cooling will probably take 3 to 4 minutes.

Pack, put in the freezer, and begin blanching the next batch.

Remember, proper blanching ensures that vegetables stay fresh in the freezer.