Friday, June 8, 2012

Freezing Broccoli

We grow broccoli every year. One of the biggest challenges with it is dealing with cabbage worms. Since our garden is entirely organic, we do not use any types of sprays or pesticides. We typically deal with the worms manually. Which means we hand pick off any worms or eggs that we find. It's really time consuming, and often times we still miss many of the worms. i wanted to try floating row covers this year, but never got around to purchasing them. So i was really expecting our usual wormy broccoli.

Our broccoli looked absolutely gorgeous this year!! i hand picked a handful of fat green worms off of it earlier in the season when it had just started, but really hadn't seen any after than. i figured they were hiding in the flower heads. Last week, i picked 18 beautiful green heads like the one in the picture, and didn't find one worm!!

Now, one of the issues we have when growing lots of broccoli is that it all tends to be ready around the same time. The window of opportunity for harvesting broccoli is about three to four days. This year we had a ton of rain...then it got really warm, so all of the broccoli had to be picked almost immediately. There is no way we could eat 18 heads of broccoli within 3-4 days... so i needed to freeze it.

The first thing you want to do with your broccoli is remove excess leaves/woody stem and them soak them head down in salt water for 30 minutes to remove any bugs or worms. Then rinse well. The broccoli needs to be blanched or steamed before freezing. i prefer to steam it.

Bring a deep pot of water to a boil. Start preparing your broccoli, and have a large bowl of ice water set aside so that you can quickly cool the broccoli.

Cut broccoli into serving sized pieces. Place broccoli on the steaming rack, over boiling water and cover.

Steam for 5 minutes. If you'd rather blanch it, you can place it directly in the boiling water for 3 min. Remove either by lifting up the steaming rack, or with a slotted spoon if you boiled it.
Transfer it immediately into the ice water and let it cool completely. Drain excess water, pat dry and package in freezer bags/containers and freeze immediately.

Freezing broccoli is really easy, and although it's not as good as fresh broccoli i like to use it in soups and casseroles. Broccoli cheese soup is a favorite in the winter, and the frozen broccoli will work perfectly for that.

* These direction came from the Freezing Foods at home booklet, that was handed down to me by my mother. :)


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