Broccoli’s versatility as a food ingredient and its natural nutritiousness are both great reasons to learn how to freeze broccoli.
It’s not uncommon to have leftover broccoli that you couldn’t use in time. Instead of throwing it away, freezing will preserve your broccoli much longer and allow you to use it down the line.
You can follow this guide to learn exactly how to do this.
Can You Freeze Broccoli? Should You?
Like most other vegetables, it is perfectly safe to freeze broccoli. Not only that, but broccoli retains its taste, texture, and overall nutrition profile well even in the freezer.
Frozen broccoli can supply essential nutrients like folate, dietary fiber, and vitamin C. With their vibrant color, broccoli florets can also be used as a garnish to make your plate look more appealing.
And like we mentioned earlier, broccoli is incredibly versatile even after being frozen. You can eat it raw or incorporate it into pastries, soups, and casseroles. You can even juice it.
How to Freeze Fresh Broccoli
1. Wash and Preparation
Before it can be frozen, the broccoli first needs to be cleaned and prepared.
If you have an entire head of broccoli, cut it into separate florets before proceeding. We don’t recommend freezing the entire head. Whole broccoli is inconvenient to use and its post-freezing quality usually suffers.
Cut off the large stem of the broccoli head and retain just the crown. With a paring knife, further divide the large crown into florets measuring about 1 ½ inches each.
Either in the sink or a large tub, soak all of your florets for at least 5 minutes. This will loosen and rinse off any dirt, bugs, or traces of pesticide still stuck to the surface.
If you don’t want the stem to go to waste, you can use a chef’s knife or vegetable peeler to slice it up. Later on, you can freeze those peeled slices alongside the florets.
2. Blanching & Steaming
This is arguably the most important step in the entire process. Broccoli — like most other vegetables and fruits — contains natural enzymes that can make it lose its color and texture over time. If you want to maintain the broccoli’s quality as long as possible, these enzymes must be deactivated.
You can do this by either blanching or steaming the broccoli.
Blanching is the most popular method due to its relative simplicity. The entire process consists of two phases: boiling and cooling.
First, take out a pot large enough to submerge all of your broccoli florets in.
Fill the pot with an appropriate amount of water, add about half a cup of Kosher salt per gallon of water. Cook until boiling.
The resulting water should be very salty (even saltier than pasta water). The salt will prevent the flavoring compounds inside of the broccoli from escaping during the blanching process. This is how you can preserve the broccoli’s original taste.
Once the water pot is boiling on the stovetop, take out a large bowl and fill it with ice water. You will use this for flash cooling later on.
Boil the florets in the salted water for about 2 minutes.
Then, fish them out with a colander, strain any excess water, and quickly dip them into the ice water bowl. The frigid water will stop residual heat from continuing to cook the florets.
Allow the broccoli to cool for another 2 minutes before taking it out.
An alternative to blanching is steaming, which will give you much the same result.
Place your vegetable steamer in a pot large enough to fit it comfortably. Fill the pot with 2 to 3 inches of water.
Place your broccoli florets onto the steamer, place the cover on, and simmer using medium heat.
Steam for about 5 minutes before straining excess water with a colander.
Rapidly cool the broccoli with an ice water bath for 2 minutes. Fish out the broccoli and dry them out on a clean cloth.
On a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet, arrange the broccoli in a single layer. Place the sheet into the freezer for 1 to 2 hours. Once the florets have been frozen completely solid, transfer them into resealable plastic bags. Clearly label each bag with the name and the date of packaging.
Store in the freezer. The broccoli should last for around 6 to 8 months without a significant drop in overall quality.
Broccoli is an excellent veggie whether it’s fresh, frozen, or freeze-dried. Armed with the knowledge of how to freeze broccoli, you can now enjoy it at any time of the year.