Have you ever wondered how to freeze fresh broccoli to avoid wasting the oversupply you bought at the grocery store? Oftentimes, we’re so busy stocking up on this tasty and nutritious vegetable that we don’t consider its extremely short shelf life.
Well, the good news is that we can extend the shelf life of fresh broccoli by using a few simple yet effective techniques. Get ready to experience the same fresh, crisp broccoli taste, even weeks after you’ve purchased it.
Does Fresh Broccoli Freeze Well?
Freezing is one of the most convenient ways to preserve fresh produce at home. In fact, if the freezing process is done correctly, you can keep the quality and nutrition of the food preserved.
However, most freshly harvested fruits and vegetables contain microorganisms and enzymes. This can hasten the deterioration and spoilage of the produce, even after freezing.
Broccoli is no exception to this rule. Luckily, the quality and shelf-life of broccoli can be improved by using a mild form of heat treatment called blanching. Blanching broccoli deactivates these enzymes and kills the bacteria on the vegetable’s surface. Fresh broccoli can be perfectly preserved in your freezer.
How to Freeze Fresh Broccoli
Follow along below with our quick and easy instructions.
Steps to freeze fresh broccoli
- Separate the broccoli heads into individual, similar-sized broccoli florets.
- Use a sharp knife to cut the first half inch off the broccoli stems and discard them.
- Wash the broccoli florets in cold water.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add small batches of the broccoli florets to the boiling water.
- Cook for 3 minutes, or until the broccoli turns bright green in color (avoid cooking until tender).
- Remove the broccoli from the boiling water with a slotted spoon.
- Immediately place the blanched broccoli into a large bowl of iced water.
- Remove the broccoli from the ice bath, drain in a colander and pat well with a paper towel.
- Place the broccoli as a single layer onto a few trays and/or baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
- Place the trays into the freezer for up to 2 hours to flash freeze the broccoli.
- Place small batches of the frozen broccoli florets into freezer bags and store in your freezer for up to 1 year.
And nothing needs to be wasted! Don’t throw the broccoli stalks away. Peel them with a vegetable peeler, cut them into small pieces, blanch and freeze them as well.
Can You Freeze Fresh Broccoli Without Blanching It First?
If the fresh broccoli is frozen raw, the enzymes will continue to degrade the produce. This will turn the broccoli brown and give it a rancid flavor. It will also affect the level of nutrients contained in the produce.
Blanching the broccoli deactivates the enzymes present on the surface of the vegetable. This helps to preserve the texture, color, and flavor of the vegetable while it is frozen.
How Do You Keep Frozen Broccoli from Getting Mushy?
As effective as your freezing technique may be, your efforts are wasted if you don’t know how to incorporate frozen produce into your meals.
A common misconception is that frozen items always need to be thawed before using. As intuitive as this seems, it’s actually not recommended to thaw frozen broccoli. Unless of course, you enjoy mushy vegetables.
When you freeze broccoli, the water contained inside it condenses as it turns into ice. When you leave broccoli to thaw, the ice expands as it turns back into water. This causes the broccoli fibers to weaken/soften, and it loses its crisp texture.
To avoid having soggy vegetables for dinner, it is recommended to add the frozen vegetables directly into the meal you are preparing. For example, if you are making a stir fry, place the frozen broccoli into a wok with a little olive oil, sesame, or peanut oil. Then ensure the pan is placed over high heat.
Recipes Using Frozen Broccoli
Here are a few simple recipes that include frozen broccoli as the main ingredient:
Air Fryer Frozen Broccoli Recipes
Let’s get one thing straight, having an air-fryer is the closest thing we can experience to having a superpower. Here we explore some amazing broccoli recipes that are prepared using your air-fryer.
Grab some parmesan cheese and Panko breadcrumbs to make a stunning Breadcrumb Parmesan Broccoli Roast.
If you’re feeling fancy, grab some rice vinegar to make a mouthwatering Asian-inspired Roasted Broccoli side dish. It’s an excellent side for a meaty dish like a bison recipe or chicken tenderloin recipe.
Creamy Broccoli Soup (Frozen Broccoli)
There is hardly a more filling and satisfying way to use frozen broccoli than in a creamy bowl of broccoli soup. It’ll be hard to believe you’re getting in more than 75% of your daily value of vitamin K with this simple, yet effective broccoli recipe.
Easy One-Pot Frozen Broccoli Pasta
No, this is not a casserole. In fact, forget what you know about casseroles! This one-pot dish uses lentil (or chickpea) pasta and parmesan cheese to make a meal that is too good to be this simple. Add a vegetable protein (like canned navy beans), or an animal protein (like sauteed garlic shrimp), for extra flavor.
Beef and Broccoli Recipe (With Frozen Broccoli)
Sauces and stews are also a perfect way to enjoy your frozen broccoli. This recipe uses lean beef as the stew meat of choice.
The flavors from the cooked beef will penetrate into the broccoli in this recipe. This dish is a big hit with those of us that have a love/hate relationship with vegetables. It is also super low in calories!
Have questions or suggestions about how to to freeze fresh broccoli? Leave them in the comments below.