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Broccoli is similar in appearance to cauliflower, only it has a bright green color. It is loaded with lots of protein, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Many doctors recommend regular use of broccoli for people suffering from cardiovascular disorders and for the prevention of cancer. Many housewives store vegetables and know how to properly freeze broccoli for the winter at home.
Broccoli season is during the summer. In the cold season, the vegetable is best purchased in supermarkets. It is much cheaper and safer to stock up for the winter during the summer. Fresh broccoli is not stored for a long time, so freezing is the best option in order to preserve the beneficial properties of the product for almost a year. Cabbage, like many other vegetables, can be frozen in the freezer. But for proper storage, it must be carefully prepared.
Freezing, as one of the methods for storing broccoli, has a number of advantages that every housewife can appreciate if she tries to stock up on vegetables for the winter in this way at least once.
Among the many advantages, the following should be noted:
- Rational use of refrigerator space. Cabbage takes up a minimum of space in the freezer without absorbing odors. In addition, absolutely all useful substances are stored in the vegetable for a long time.
- Preservation of micronutrients. With the help of freezing, you can fully preserve the entire range of useful characteristics and taste. With proper preparation of the vegetable for freezing and following all the instructions, broccoli will be very similar to fresh, both in color and taste, in the richness of vitamins. Freezing is important for people who in the future plan to cook dishes from a healthy vegetable for their children.
- The constant presence of cabbage in the refrigerator. You don't have to go shopping for broccoli, especially if you want to eat it for breakfast. The product will always be at hand, and ready for heat treatment.
- Saving money. Seasonal vegetables are significantly more expensive in winter than in summer. Therefore, it is in the season that you should start stocking up when prices are minimal. Using frozen broccoli in cooking during the winter can significantly save your family budget.
You can make frozen stocks from almost any vegetable. Follow the guidelines to ensure that your food retains maximum nutrient levels.
Buying and preparing broccoli
The choice should be approached as responsibly as possible. It is a mistake to think that you can freeze food in any condition. Low-quality vegetables are not suitable for this type of storage. Broccoli, first of all, should be young and rich green.
The inflorescences should be free of insects and traces of vegetable diseases. Otherwise, the cabbage will go bad and have to be thrown away.
It is best to harvest and freeze broccoli from your own garden. But, unfortunately, not everyone can have this luxury. You can buy quality and fresh cabbage at the market or in the vegetable section of the supermarket.
For freezing, you should not take a product with such "signs":
- wilted inflorescences;
- putrefactive foci on stems or inflorescences;
- the presence of pests;
- yellowish and dry parts.
The vegetable should be firm and firm, without flaws or damage, bright green in color, with a rich aroma.
Preparing the refrigerator before starting the process
Before starting freezing, the freezer compartment must be freed from other products, washed well and dried. Packages with cabbage can be placed exclusively in a dry container.
If the refrigerator has a built-in quick freeze function, it is recommended to turn it on for a few hours. So freezing occurs much faster, which has a positive effect on the preservation of the useful properties of the vegetable. If there is no "Quick Freeze", then the temperature in the freezer is set to 10-15 degrees.
To freeze broccoli for the winter in your home kitchen, you will need not only broccoli flowers, but also some kitchen tools. The hostess must first prepare:
- cutting surface;
- a saucepan;
- deep bowl;
- a basket for steaming;
After all the accessories have been prepared, you should take care of the freezer container. Ideally, use special freezer food bags. If there are none, regular plastic bags or containers, which should be tight enough, will do.
How and why to pre-blanch
It is not recommended to freeze broccoli without cooking. Steaming cabbage is an obligatory freezing step. Blanching destroys enzymes that promote oxidation. With further storage in a container with vegetables, an unpleasant odor will not appear, and the taste will remain.
If you do not use blanching, then, in most cases, the inflorescences will crumble in the freezer, and after defrosting the vegetables will have to be thrown away.
In a saucepan
Blanching is allowed in a saucepan. Prepared inflorescences are dipped directly into boiling water. You need to boil for no more than two minutes. Then the vegetables are taken out and cooled.
In a double boiler
It is much easier for owners of a double boiler to blanch broccoli. Lemon water is also brought to a boil. Cabbage is laid out in a special basket, which is placed on a container with boiling water, covered with a lid. Heat treatment with this method takes about 5 minutes.
Home freezing method
Freezing broccoli is a lengthy process, which, however, does not require special skills and complex manipulations. It will only take a step-by-step implementation of all the processes in order to get a high-quality result. It is best to buy broccoli during the season that falls in the months of June and July. Inflorescences need to choose a rich green color, dense to the touch. It is better not to take vegetables on which spots and putrid foci are found for storage for many days.
It is necessary to clean the product from dirt, since it will not need to be rinsed in the future. It will immediately be heat treated. To completely remove insects from the inflorescences, the vegetable is soaked in a salt solution for half an hour. The parasites will not only die, but also float to the surface. Then the broccoli should be thoroughly rinsed and peeled from the leaves.
The vegetables must be divided into inflorescences about 2.5 centimeters in size. The trunk is also cut into small pieces of 6 millimeters. The hard part of the stem must be thrown out.The chopped broccoli is placed in a deep vessel, filled with plain water and lemon juice is added. In this solution, let it brew for 5 minutes. Lemon juice preserves the green color of the cabbage.
The liquid from the bowl is poured into a saucepan, more water is added. The contents should be boiled. The broccoli is placed in a steaming basket and dipped in a saucepan of boiling water. From above, everything is also covered with a lid. Therefore, simmer for about 5 minutes. Vegetables are immersed directly in water if no steamer is available. This reduces the blanching process to 2 minutes.
The inflorescences and stems are removed from the pan and immediately immersed in ice water. Cool the product under running water using a colander if there is no basket for cooking in a double boiler. Chilled broccoli is removed from the water, dried and placed in bags or containers for freezing food.
It is recommended to calculate the amount of cabbage for one preparation of dishes, and pack it in that amount. It is forbidden to freeze broccoli several times, so you need to harvest as much product as you plan to use at a time. When defrosting and freezing again, the cabbage will quickly lose color, structure and taste.
It is better to sign the packages - when a specific portion of the vegetable has been frozen. Frozen broccoli is best consumed in the next nine months, so sticker labels are a handy way to remind you of deadlines.
Freezing with blanching
Before freezing, the cabbage must be blanched. This type of steam treatment is required when freezing. During blanching, under the influence of high temperatures, enzymes die, which can lead to oxidation. The steamed vegetable is stored in the freezer for a long time and does not deteriorate.
Freezing without blanching
Fresh broccoli cannot be frozen without blanching. Being in the freezer, under the influence of low temperatures, the inflorescences of the workpiece will turn into dust, and it will be impossible to use them for further preparation. Blanching in a saucepan or double boiler will preserve the texture of the vegetable, its color and flavor.
With deep freezing, a temperature of -18 degrees is applied. In this temperature regime, the frozen workpiece is stored in the freezer for almost a whole year. If the temperature is kept within 0-8 degrees, then broccoli should be consumed in the next three months.
It is not recommended to re-freeze vegetables. This should be taken into account when defrosting the refrigerator. In such situations, the cabbage bag is wrapped in a warm blanket, which will maintain the low temperature necessary for the preservation of the product. After cleaning the refrigerator, broccoli is urgently placed in the freezer.
The need for defrosting
You do not need to defrost broccoli before cooking! When defrosting, it loses its shape, becomes soft and, as a result of even slight heat treatment, turns into an unattractive gruel. To create culinary masterpieces using healthy inflorescences, take the product out of the freezer and start cooking immediately.
Only fresh cabbage must be prepared for freezing. Only in this case it is possible to preserve the taste and benefits of the vegetable at the maximum level. For cooking, use a saucepan with a lid, a multicooker and a double boiler. If you choose a saucepan, then the water is first boiled, salted. Then place the frozen vegetables so that the water only covers them.
The cooking time is influenced by the degree of freezing of the cabbage and the size of the pieces. In most cases, cooking lasts no more than 7 minutes. In the process, it is recommended to check the readiness of the inflorescences with a fork every couple of minutes. If the fork sinks easily into the stem, the vegetables are cooked. For the preservation of the crispy properties, ready-made broccoli from boiling water should be immediately immersed in cold water.
Boiled cabbage can be served as an independent dish, sprinkled with salt and your favorite spices on top. Cheese sauce is ideal for this vegetable. Delicious inflorescences fried in batter of bread crumbs and eggs are obtained. The dish is also sprinkled with lemon juice, almonds are added. Boiled broccoli is used to make a healthy creamy soup with crispy croutons and fried bacon. You can also bake in the oven.
Housewives can use some recommendations that will make the freezing process easier without losing the useful properties of the product:
- for the preservation of the crispy structure and pleasant taste, well-dried inflorescences should be frozen;
- so that broccoli does not lose its colorfulness, it is sprinkled with lemon or lime juice;
- for blanching, it is convenient to use a steamer basket with a holder handle;
- it is forbidden to blanch in the microwave;
- vegetables are cut on a board that is not used for cutting raw fish and meat.
Adopting the listed tips, you can greatly simplify the process and get a quality product at the end.
Freezing broccoli is a simple process leading to a healthy result. It is important to thoroughly approach the choice of the product and properly prepare it for the freezing process. With such a vegetable, you can pleasantly diversify a boring winter menu, saturating it with useful trace elements and summer colors.