The carrots get scrubbed and cut into rough sticks. I don't peel my carrots, but this is the time, if you're going to. Of course, you can cut them into whatever shape you like, but carrot rounds remind me too much of canned carrots, so I just avoid that shape. These sticks will work nicely in a stir fry.When the water is boiling, we're ready to go. This is when I think about the order of things. Sure, you can use fresh water for each vegetable, but I don't. Instead I think about how the veg will affect each other. I'm going to do greens first and then carrots, because if the carrots get infused with a bit of the goodness from the greens, that's no problem, but I might not want any of the sweetness of the carrots to leech out into my greens. This probably isn't a thing, but it's something I think about. Of course, if you're dealing allergies or strong preferences in your house, you'll want to separate your veg accordingly. I dropped the kale into boiling water. Then waited for a few seconds to be sure the water had come back up to a boil, and then set the stop watch. You only want the kale in there for two minutes. This is true of all greens, except collards, which need an extra minute. This is the time to prep your chill bowl. Cold water and ice, enough to cover your veg when they come out of the pot. When my two minutes are up, I pull the strainer basket up out of the pot. If you don't have a basket, use a slotted spoon to remove the veg. And drop the kale right into the ice water. The kale need to chill in the ice water for at least as long as they boiled (2 minutes). Then I drain it - well - squeezing and such. And into a zipper bag. Squeeze the air out well, and use a plastic straw if you have one handy. I like to use masking tape and a Sharpie to label them. That way when you're reusing your bag you don't have to cross out whatever was in the bag last. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="320" caption="My husband, Sous Chef Brian, was excited at this point in the labeling"][/caption]
The spinach is done the same exact way. Boil 2 minutes, drain, ice for 2 minutes, bag and freeze.[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="320" caption="I think Sous Chef Brian was bored with the labeling at this point. He actually does like carrots. "][/caption] Veg like this keep a good 6-9 months in the freezer, and after that they don't spoil but they lose some of their flavor. How do you know how long to blanch your veg for freezing? The Internet is your friend. The National Center for Home Preservation provides guidance on blanching and freezing, canning, drying, smoking and more. If there's a vegetable you're itching to freeze that isn't listed, just Google "blanching rutabega" and you'll get the appropriate time from something like Colorado State University Extension Center or New Mexico State University. Lots of schools have great info on preservation. My most common veg are:
- Greens - 2 minutes
- Corn on the cob - 9 minutes
- Eggplant - 4 minutes
- Green beans - 3 minutes
- Label your veg. You don't want to think you're pulling out spinach one day and find out after the first bite that it's actually mustard greens.
- Freeze them in the quantities you're going to want them in once they're defrosted. No, you're not going to successfully break off half a block of frozen carrots. The advanced technique, which I do when I have bigger quantities, is to blanch, drain, and then lay out on a cookie sheet (lined with parchment or silicone) in the freezer. Then, once each piece is frozen, drop them in a bag or other storage device. That way you can get at just some of them, like how your supermarket veg are frozen.
- Of course, if you use your freshest veg, they'll be more delightful when you defrost them. But this is how I clean out my fridge.