Have you ever bought frozen broccoli florets? If not, you’ve probably seen them at the nearest grocery store. So you already know that you can freeze broccoli and it freezes well. Now that you have too much broccoli on hand, look for ways to store it.
Freezing is the first thing that comes to mind because it offers an easy way out. The vegetables don’t spoil and you don’t have to decide how or where to use them. Just freeze the veggies and they’re out of your head until you need them. I know I’ve done this a number of times and I’m sure you have too. So, if you’ve decided to freeze broccoli, let’s get into the specifics.
How do you freeze broccoli?
There are at least a few ways to freeze broccoli (just like cauliflower ). In this article, we’ll go through the most popular ways. Each has its own benefits, and it’s up to you to choose the one that best suits your needs.
Preparation of the broccoli
Preparing broccoli is the same no matter which freezing method you choose. If there are tiny worms in the florets, we need to get rid of them first. Fill a large bowl with water and add a teaspoon of salt. Next, throw the broccoli in the water and leave it there for about half an hour. That should help kill the bugs. After 30 minutes, rinse the vegetables under running water. The vegetables should now be worm free.
The rest of the preparation is the same whether it’s store-bought broccoli or freshly picked from the garden. Place the veggies on a cutting board and cut into florets (bite-sized broccoli trees). If you want to use the stalks as well (they’re edible!), cut them into smaller fries-like pieces.
After cutting, wash the pieces under running water to remove any dirt residue. Some people prefer washing before cutting, but I find it much easier (and quicker!) to wash after cutting.
Now that the broccoli is prepared, it’s time to decide how to freeze it. If you have no idea how to use the vegetable in the future, just go for the first option – freezing blanched broccoli.
This method is straightforward, and the results are the same as buying frozen broccoli. Freezing cooked or roasted broccoli is a great option when you want to quickly prepare the veggies for consumption. Since the vegetables are already cooked, you don’t have to wait for them to soften. Just make sure the broccoli is warm enough for you to enjoy and that’s it.
Freezing blanched broccoli
We’ll start by blanching broccoli. This process helps preserve the flavor and texture of the vegetables after they are frozen. It’s not necessary by any means, but it will help you get better results. After blanching and drying, we freeze the florets and stalks in one fell swoop. This is optional. That way they don’t freeze together. The last part of the process is transferring the frozen vegetables into a freezer bag. The vegetables are placed back in the freezer. This freezing method is perfect if you want to store broccoli long-term.
Here is the step-by-step procedure for blanching broccoli:
- Boil a pot of water. Once the water is boiling, toss in the broccoli for 2 to 3 minutes (depending on the size of the florets).
- Prepare a bowl of ice water for the ice bath.
- After these 2 to 3 minutes, strain the water and immediately transfer the vegetables to the ice bath.
- Let the broccoli sit in the cold water for 5 to 10 minutes, then strain the water.
Now it’s time to freeze the broccoli:
- Make sure broccoli is thoroughly dried. A tea towel and a couple of paper towels should do the trick. If you’re not in a hurry, let the vegetables sit on a tea towel for about 30 minutes after drying. This allows the water to evaporate better. Take a paper towel and pat each floret dry to ensure there are no wet spots. Again, drying is really important here.
- (Optional) Take a cookie sheet and line it with parchment paper. Then lay the broccoli pieces flat on the cookie sheet. Make sure the pieces don’t touch each other. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for an hour. Take the broccoli out of the freezer.
- Transfer the vegetables to a freezer bag or container. Label it with a name and a date and throw it in the freezer.
Freezing cooked, steamed, or roasted broccoli
Freezing broccoli this way is perfect if you want to freeze broccoli ready to eat in no time. Since the vegetables are already pre-cooked, they only need to be warmed up. You don’t have to wait for the vegetables to soften. A few minutes on the skillet or in the microwave and the broccoli is ready.
Here is the step-by-step process of freezing pre-cooked broccoli (choose one of the options):
- [Option A] Cook the broccoli. Bring a pot of water to a boil with a pinch of salt and toss the broccoli. Let the pot simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are slightly soft. There is no need to soften the florets completely as you will be reheating the broccoli. Aim to undercook the florets. Once the broccoli softens, strain the water.
- [Option B] Steam the broccoli. Bring a pot of water to a boil and sauté the broccoli until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Just like cooking, you should try to under-steam the broccoli.
- [Option C] Roast the broccoli. This is my favorite method! It works beautifully when preparing broccoli as part of your meal prep routine. Preheat the oven to 420 degrees F (or 220 degrees C). Take a baking sheet, line it with aluminum foil and place the broccoli florets on it. Now it’s time to coat them. The easiest way is to spray the broccoli with olive oil. I mix olive oil with balsamic vinegar 1:1 and sprinkle the broccoli with it. A tablespoon of your choice of topping is more than enough for a large leaf of broccoli. Once the oven is preheated, transfer the cookie sheet to the oven. Fry the vegetables for 30 to 35 minutes. After about 30 minutes, check if the vegetables are soft enough. Try pricking the florets with a fork.
- Cool and dry the broccoli thoroughly. Whichever pre-cooking option you choose, give the vegetables time to cool completely. Remove excess water from the vegetables. For an appetizer, lay the broccoli flat and let it sit at room temperature for at least an hour to cool. Once cool, check that all moisture has evaporated. If you can spot some wet spots, use paper towels or a tea towel to wipe them off. Cold and dry broccoli is ready to freeze.
- Transfer the broccoli to freezer bags or containers. Label them with names and dates and throw them in the freezer. To make it easier to defrost, divide the vegetables into several portions. Place each serving in its own container. When you need the frozen broccoli, simply take the bag out of the freezer without measuring anything.
How to thaw frozen broccoli
How you thaw broccoli depends on how you intend to use it. If the vegetables are going to go into a soup, stew, or something similar, the easiest way to thaw the broccoli is frozen.
If you plan to stir-fry it as part of a stir-fry or casserole, consider thawing it in the fridge first.
If you forgot to put them in the fridge the night before, it’s best to defrost them in cold water or while they’re cooking.
Tips and tricks for freezing broccoli
Cutting broccoli florets into smaller florets is messy. Instead of cutting them all the way through with a knife, cut them off the bottom (stem) in the middle. Then tear them apart with your hands. This way there is little to no clutter.