Blanching Vegetables

As the summer ramps up and the garden produce starts rolling in, my kitchen becomes a place where I not only cook fresh produce, but freeze and can it as well. Some vegetables never produce enough, but there are always several that produce way more than we could eat fresh, so it's time to fill the freezer!

In order to freeze vegetables in a way that keeps the peak nutritional value and freshness, it is necessary to blanch them first. Blanching is like "flash boiling" vegetables to kill the enzymes that naturally break down vegetables over time.

Here are the basic steps for blanching vegetables:
1. Use the freshest vegetables that you can
2. Wash, peel, slice or dice your vegetables into the size and shape that you will want to use them in later
3. Bring a pot of water to a boil.
4. Add the vegetables to the water and bring back to a boil.
5. Start the time needed according to the chart when the water begins to boil.
6. When the time is up, strain the vegetables and plunge them into a bowl of ice water for the same number       of minutes that they boiled.
7. Strain the vegetables again and lay them out in a single layer on a baking sheet to dry.
8. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for 12-24 hours to freeze as individual pieces.
9. Put the vegetables in a freezer ziplock bag and label it with the date and contents.
10. Pull out of the freezer and enjoy any day of the year!

Different vegetables should be blanched for different amounts of time, so here is a handy chart to serve as a reminder!

How to Freeze Fresh Green Beans

We just had our first freeze last week, which in south Louisiana is unheard of! I am so upset that I had to pick all of the green beans, tomatoes, and peppers and say goodbye to my late summer plants. We usually have at least three more weeks! I realize our growing season is months longer than most places in the country, but I'm still sad it had to end so soon! 

Due to this massive last minute harvest, I need to freeze some of my green beans for later, so in case you are in the same situation, here's how!

In order to freeze green beans without having them lose any nutritional value, they must be blanched first, which is a really simple process. First wash the beans and snip off all of the stem ends.

 Next, bring put them in a pot on the stove and cover them with water. 

Cook on high until you have a rolling boil for three minutes. At this point the beans should be bright in color and tender crisp.

Remove the beans from the hot water and immediately place into a bowl of ice water until chilled, usually about 3-4 minutes.

 Now all you have to do is let them dry and then put them in a freezer ziplock bag. When you take them out later they will be ready to cook in whatever way you choose and enjoy year-round with the added bonus of still maintaining almost all of the nutritional value of fresh picked green beans!