Methods and Equipment
Most vegetables will store well if you blanch them before freezing. Blanching inhibits the action of enzymes that cause decay and helps retain the vegetables' color, texture, and flavor. Blanch approximately one pound of vegetables at a time to ensure even cooking. You will need a large pot (to hold at least one gallon of water) and a wire mesh basket that can be easily immersed and lifted out of the pot. Make sure the vegetables are washed, cut, and ready to go. Steps to blanching:
Fill the pot with water, and bring that water to a rolling boil.
Prepare another pot with ice water. Change it regularly if you are processing a large quantity of vegetables.
Place the vegetables into the basket and immerse both into the boiling water.
Use a cooking timer to clock the recommended time for each vegetable. (See the next section, “The Best Veggies”).
Remove promptly when the time is up. Chill quickly by immersing the basket into the pot of ice water. If items are not chilled, they will still continue to cook and become soft and mushy.
Drain the vegetables well.
Pack into containers, allowing some headspace. Seal, label, and freeze.
Packing for the Freezer
There is a large selection of freezer containers and bags to choose from; choose containers or bags that fit the portion size you are freezing and the space available in your freezer. Good packaging will keep your food from drying out (often known as freezer burn) and make better use of your freezer space. Moisture- and vapor-proof containers will save your food's flavor, texture, color, and nutrients.
Suitable rigid containers for freezing can be made of glass, plastic, aluminum, tin, or heavily waxed cardboard. Freezer bags are available in assorted styles and sizes; there are those that close with a twist tie, Ziploc bags, or you can also use a vacuum sealer machine that will seal a heavier-weight plastic bag, removing all the air in the process. This method will help to prevent frost crystals from forming on the food.
Can I use ordinary plastic wrap for freezing food?
No, because ordinary kitchen plastic wrap is too thin to be used in the freezer on its own. You can, however, use it to wrap individual items, like corn on the cob, which are then placed into a plastic bag.
When sealing your package, make sure you leave some headspace as food and liquid will expand as they freeze. Follow the manufacturer's directions for the containers or bags you are using. Label the package clearly with the name of the food and the date it was frozen, making sure to use a moisture resistant label or a permanent marker.