boiling multi-coloured beans in a stock pot

Blanching Vegetables From the Garden Before Freezing

Too many vegetables? Want to freeze them and keep their colour and flavour? Learn how blanching vegetables for the freezer to help preserve them better.

You’ve had a bumper crop of vegetables. Now you are either faced with eating the same veggie everyday (trust me, that gets boring quickly) or preserving some to eat in winter when you don’t have fresh vegetables in the garden.

Freezing vegetables is a simple way to preserve them. But in order to maintain freshness, colour and taste blanching vegetables before freezing is necessary. Blanching involves boiling or steaming briefly and then plunging the vegetables in cold water.

Why You Need To Blanch Vegetables Before Freezing

Simply freezing most vegetables usually doesn’t work. Enzymes in the cells continue to work even when frozen and will degrade your vegetables over time.

To solve this problem, blanching veggies before freezing will halt this enzyme action and keep the produce vibrant in colour and texture and preserve the vitamins inside. So that when you pull them out of the freezer they will almost be like freshly harvested vegetables.

So let’s look at how it works to blanch vegetables for freezing. It is not as difficult as some instructions will lead you to believe.

In my example below we had a large harvest of bush beans when we came back from being away on a week vacation in the middle of July. This is a tri-coloured blend of yellow, green and purple beans. Great fresh but they also freeze well. Learn more about how to harvest vegetables.

You can though use this blanching vegetables “recipe” for other vegetables. See the blanching vegetables chart in step 2 for the list of vegetables you can and should blanch prior to freezing.

Prepare Vegetables For Blanching

Snap off the ends of the beans and soak in a sink or bowl of cold water, cleaning them as needed. No need to drain them as they are going straight into water again.

washing multi-coloured bush beans in the sink

Boil or Steam Vegetables For Blanching

You don’t need a vegetable blanching machine or special blanching pot for this method of blanching vegetables.

In a large soup or stock pot, start boiling water for the beans to cook in. Alternatively you could also blanch your vegetables in a steamer. For that you would use less water and a steaming rack or basket. The rest of the steps are the same.

boiling water in stock pot

Note: boiling is technically called scalding. However boiling is a more common word, so I’ll use that here.

Throw in the beans and set your timer (see the blanching vegetables time chart below). Don’t overload the pot. I did get a bit carried away and maybe should have done two batches. Make sure that the water is boiling before you set your timer. Steaming will be the same, just a slightly longer time (again check the table on vegetable blanching times below).

How long should you boil or steam? Here is a chart on how long to blanch vegetables (thanks to TipNut’s article for the various times):

Blanch Vegetables In Cold Water

While the vegetables are boiling/steaming, prepare a container to blanch the beans in. Blanching will stop the cooking process and the enzyme action.

Ice water is best to lower the temperature of the veggies quickly. Not having any ice cubes on hand, I used a picnic cooling pack I had handy in my freezer. Make sure it is clean. Or use ice cubes. The container needs to be big enough to be able to hold enough water to cool the beans down quickly.

Once the cooking time is done, immediately remove the pot from the heat.

If using an ice pack to cool down the water in your bowl, remove it for more room.

Using tongs or a screened ladle, move the beans from the cooking pot to the ice water. Do this as quickly as you can as you want the veggies to cool down quickly to stop the enzyme action.

You might have to add more ice cubes or more cold water (as in my case). Touch the beans and make sure they are cool to the touch.

Packing And Freezing Vegetables after Blanching

Drain the beans well in a sieve or colander. Pack them up into freezer bags in portions enough for one meal. Press out as much of the air as possible in the bags, label and freeze.

Blanching Vegetables For Freezing: A Step-By-Step Guide - Do you have too many vegetables? Blanching vegetables helps preserve the colour and texture when freeze your harvest. Learn how in a few simple steps.

Using The Frozen Veggies

When you are ready to use them, take them out of the freezer and rather than thawing (which may affect texture), cook in their frozen state. Steaming is a good way to keep the colour and texture. Or add them to a stew or other dish.

Blanching fresh vegetables before freezing is a quick way to preserve your harvest. The advantages of blanching outweigh the small investment in time. It is not that difficult and takes less time than canning or other preserving methods. You and your family can then enjoy the harvest bounty even in winter!

Let me know in the comments if you try blanching for the first time or if you have any additional tips for easier blanching.

Wishing you a bountiful harvest and have fun blanching vegetables!

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  1. Wow. I did not realize blanching my vegetables for future use was as easy as this or I would have done it sooner. Thanks for the great guide and again what a lovely infographic. By the way how long do you recommend keeping vegetables in the freezer?

    1. Thanks Donna for your comment. Glad that the post introduced you to a new way to preserve your harvest. The key to keeping veggies in the freezer is to make sure you use proper freezer bags and try to remove most of the air. Your major enemy is freezer burn when the veggies are exposed to the cold air.

      I have had fruit in my freezer for almost a year and it is still fine. Veggies should be fine for at least a few months or more. Usually you end up using them up much before you need to worry about damage from freezing.

  2. Hi there,
    I’d love to buy or grow in season and store but is there any way to do this without plastic bags?
    I read your section regarding the cold air is what causes the freezer burn.

    I guess I could always reuse the bags but if you know of any plastic-free suggestions that would be so appreciated- thank you!!

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