QUESTION: I want to plant extra broccoli to freeze, but I’m not sure how to prepare it for freezing. Is it a lot of work to freeze broccoli without it tasting bitter? -Claire G
ANSWER: Fresh broccoli should be eaten as soon as possible. To store fresh broccoli for short durations, mist unwashed heads, wrap loosely with paper towels, and place them in the refrigerator. This will help to keep broccoli fresh for two or three days. If you have a lot of excess broccoli and need to store it for longer periods, you will need to cut your broccoli into small pieces, blanch it and freeze it.
If you try to freeze your fresh broccoli when it’s raw, all you will get is disappointment. The final product is bitter, nasty looking, shriveled up stems. In order to store broccoli in a way that retains the crispy texture of the vegetable, its tasty flavor and pretty green hue, you will need to blanch your broccoli. Blanching is quick and easy and it will ensure that your broccoli retains its color, structure, and flavor after thawing.
To blanch your broccoli for storage, cut up your broccoli head into pieces that are no around one and a half inches in diameter. Then boil your broccoli pieces for three minutes or steam them for five. If boiling, use a sieve or a colander to pull the broccoli from the boil quickly so that they don’t overcook. Immediately after boiling or steaming your broccoli pieces, cool them in an ice water bath for the same period of time that they were cooked.
Once your broccoli have finished their ice water bath, dry them off quickly using a salad shaker or dry them with a paper towel and package the pieces in freezer bags. Put portion-sized servings in each bag as you will want to thaw and use them a little at a time. Once your broccoli is bagged, place your bags into the freezer.
When selecting broccoli heads to purchase at the grocery store or when harvesting your own plants, look for heads with buds that are tight and firm. If the buds in the head are showing even the tiniest bit of opening, it’s not a good pick for blanching and freezing. You will end up with a much tastier product if you used the freshest, ripest crowns.
We also have some great ideas here for using up all that broccoli!