Well, this has been a great week! HOT and things needing lots of water, fighting heat, but everything growing like CRAZY if they have heat, sunshine, water, fertile soil, and of course, a little TLC. I will be doing 2 blogs this week, so stay tuned for the next one! I will do one later (maybe tomorrow or Friday) on mulching in order to help with heat and water issues. This blog, I am covering blanching.
I blanch everything that I can to store for the winter, and typically only eat what can’t be stored in the summer as a vegetable side… pickles or pickled items don’t count in our house, those are treats! So, our summer veggies are lots of lettuce, cucumbers, zucchini, various thinnings, asparagus (which can be blanched, but we just eat it), summer turnips, veggies that are not in good condition to store, with the odd treat of a blanchable veggie, and a few other yummy things.
What is blanching, and Why should you do it?
Blanching is a very fast process of boiling a vegetable in order to freeze it for storage. It’s making your own bags of frozen vegetable. Technically you can (and I know people who do..) just cut, pop in the freezer and eat later, however, there are 3 reasons why you really should blanch your vegetables before freezing:
Reason 1: It kills off any bacteria and critters on the plant, and helps clean the food for storage.
Reason 2: It halts enzyme actions that would continue, that would otherwise change the colour, taste and texture of the food.
Reason 3: It helps that plant “seal in” the nutritional value of the vegetable. The vitamins will slowly deplete otherwise.
I suppose there is a fourth reason, and that would be so you have vegetable in the winter months… 🙂
Blanching step by step:
Here is my method. You can steam them too. I’ve never tried it, but I might one day. It takes longer, and I generally am fighting to keep the house cool in the hot summer, so use my kitchen as quick as possible to keep temps down. We do not do air conditioning, and we do not have a basement. Just a small, one level house. But, a quick Google search will teach you how to steam blanch if you are interested. Anyway… here are the steps I use for blanching, and there is a short video above that shows you as well.
1.) Wash your vegetable(s) with cold water. (Some people give it a salt bath)
2.) Cut your vegetables into the bite sizes that you like, and remove any compromised parts of the plant.
3.) Fill a disinfected sink with cold water and ice for an ice bath.
4.) Get a large pot filled with water and bring to a HARD boil.
5.) Get a cauldron that fits in the pot and place prepared vegetables in the cauldron.
6.) Grab a large spoon or stirring utensil.
7.) Place cauldron of vegetables into the hard boiling water, stir continuously until the vegetable looks a brighter, deeper colour. (This literally takes only a minute or two for many vegetables!)
8.) Pull cauldron of veggies out of the boiling water and immediately dump them into the the ice bath to completely cool as fast as possible to halt the cooking process. If you don’t do the ice bath, the veggies will continue to cook and you may end up with soggy veggies, or cooked (not blanched) frozen veggie.
9.) Once the veggies are completely cooled, place on a clean (sanitized if possible) towel on the counter to drip dry (about 30 minutes…ish…)
10.) Place veggies in a freezer bag, removing as much air as possible, label, and put in the freezer.
Vegetables that can be blanched:
I’m sure there are more things that can be blanched, but these are the ones that I grow, blanch and freeze for winter harvest.
- Asparagus (I don’t blanch, but you easily can)
We generally blanch 30-50 litres of vegetables for winter. Each litre gives us 2 dinners for a family of 3. We also have storage of other vegetables that can be overwintered using cold rooms and root cellars, and of course canning. It’s nice to have the choices throughout the winter months. We generally rely on stored veggies for about 5-6 months of the year, depending on how early or late the spring and fall are, which will either extend or shorten the growing season.
Alright, that’s it for now! Hope you enjoyed this, and are able to start storing some of the amazing produce coming your way! I’ll be sharing a blog on mulching soon, and also, as my friend and gardening partner, Harriet Hansen, is back, we will be blogging as a team soon! She is just finishing up her Covid-19 isolation. You will LOVE her… She is a master gardener in both Canada and the U.S. and we have a great friend relationship and symbiotic relationship with our gardening. 🙂
P.s. If you have questions, please feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org