Whether you're taking advantage of the season with farmer's market broccoli or you're growing it in your own garden, you might need to freeze the surplus. If you are growing your own broccoli, harvest it when the head starts growing and before the clusters begin to spread. The buds should be tightly clustered.
To prepare broccoli, cut and discard tough, woody stalks.
Soak the broccoli in cold, salted water for about 30 minutes.
This will remove any insects that might be present. Swish it around to remove dirt and rinse well with cold water.
Fill the clean sink or a large container with ice and water. The ice water will be used to cool the broccoli quickly after it has been blanched.
Cut the broccoli into uniform stalks or pieces so they will cook evenly.
Boiling Water Blanching
Bring a large, deep pot of water to a full rolling boil.
Working with one pound* at a time, immerse the vegetables in the boiling water. Begin timing as soon as the water returns to a boil. Blanch for 3 minutes.
Put about 2 to 3 inches of water in a large, deep, heavy pot. Bring to a boil over high heat.
Working with about one pound at a time, put the prepared broccoli pieces in a wire basket or steaming basket insert. Place it over the pan of boiling water. Cover the pan and begin timing. Steam for 5 minutes.
Immediately immerse the broccoli in the ice water and swish it around to cool quickly.
Drain well and then pack in wide-mouth jars or freezer containers leaving about 1 inch of headspace. Or pack the broccoli in zip-close freezer bags (no headspace required). Label with the name and date before placing the containers in the freezer.
Boilable Bags as Containers
Boilable bags are a huge convenience, and they can be sealed with vacuum sealing machine or hot electric iron.
The cost is right around $20 for 100 bags.
Fill the bag with the broccoli and distribute evenly. Seal following the manufacturer's directions.
To use an electric iron, heat the iron on the cotton setting. Place a damp kitchen towel over the seal and iron, pressing firmly, to within about 1 inch of the end. Press the bag with your hand to get any extra air out of the bag then put the damp towel over the seal and iron until the seal is complete.
How to Cook Your Frozen Broccoli
Blanched frozen broccoli is a snap to cook because it has been pre-cooked. To cook frozen broccoli, place it in a saucepan with about an inch of water. Cover and boil briefly, just until tender.
Or stir-fry the broccoli in a little butter or extra virgin olive oil just until tender.
*1 pound of broccoli will yield about 1 pint frozen.
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