On this eve of Thanksgiving, are you thankful for planting broccoli in your community garden plot? Are you planning broccoli casserole, broccoli cheese soup, or buttered broccoli for your Thanksgiving table? Did you know that broccoli is easily preserved in the freezer?
UGA’s book So Easy to Preserve gives clear cut instructions for freezing broccoli so that it stays tasty for later cooking. Start with firm young, tender stalks with compact heads. Remove all leaves and woody portions. Separate the broccoli heads into conveniently sized sections.
Mix 4 teaspoons of salt into one gallon of water. Soak the broccoli heads in the salt water for 30 minutes. This tip helps remove insects. You may be surprised at what is left behind in the brine.
Once soaking is complete, split the heads lengthwise so that flowerets are no more than1 1/2 inches across. Water blanch 3 minutes in boiling water or steam blanch for 5 minutes. Blanching is just exposing the vegetable to boiling water or steam for a very specific period of time. Blanching brightens the vegetable color, helps retain vitamins, and makes the vegetable easier to freeze. Make sure you follow the blanch time exactly. Overblanching can actually cook the broccoli and result in a loss of flavor, color, and nutrients.
Cool the broccoli in an ice water bath. Drain and package leaving no headspace, meaning no space between the broccoli and the container closure. Seal and freeze. Enjoy your harvest in the months ahead!
Your UGA Extension office is staffed with a family and consumer science agent. He/she has great information on preserving all the vegetables in your garden! Take advantage of this great resource.