The Ultimate Guide to Perfectly Freezing Broccoli

Broccoli is the bread and butter of the vegetable world. It’s versatile, affordable, and keeps a relatively long time once you bring it home. If you’re looking to stockpile some of this versatile veggie or simply bought too much and want to preserve it, consider freezing some.

Can You Freeze Broccoli?

Yes, you can absolutely freeze broccoli. However, there’s a right and wrong way to go about it. Unlike some other foods, safety isn’t as much of a concern as texture. Fresh broccoli has a firm, snappy texture that almost invites another bite. But we’ve all been burned by the sorrow of mushy, soggy broccoli.

If you don’t freeze your broccoli correctly, you’re likely doomed to squelchy, overly moist broccoli. This is because broccoli is mostly water; when it’s frozen, the water turns to ice, and the crystals expand. When the crystals melt slowly, the water seeps into the vegetable, creating a soggy mess. But with a few simple steps, you can create a perfectly frozen product.

The Best Way to Freeze Broccoli

The best way to freeze broccoli is to cook it first. Heating it will evaporate some of the water and preserve the texture before it meets the icy conditions of your freezer. IQF, which stands for individually quickly frozen, is a method employed by restaurants and other large-scale food operations to ensure the best results when freezing food, mainly fruit, and veggies.

The basis of this system is cutting the food down to about bite size and freezing it in a single layer where nothing is touching. If you’ve ever just tossed some sliced fruit in a zip-top bag for smoothies and opened it up the next day to find a fruit rock, you know how important this step is. Produce is frozen solid in that single layer and then transferred to an airtight container for storage. This keeps the broccoli from forming big ice crystals and becoming freezer burned.

How To Freeze Broccoli

  1. Set up your station: set a large pot of heavily salted water to boil. Then, fill a large bowl with ice and then cover the ice with cold water. Line a sheet tray with a kitchen towel.

  2. Cut broccoli into bite-sized pieces.

  3. Once the water is boiling, blanch the broccoli for about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the broccoli to the ice bath.

  4. Once the broccoli is cool, transfer to the lined sheet tray. Use the towel to gently pat the broccoli dry.

  5. Remove the towel and broccoli from the tray and line the tray with a silicone baking mat or aluminum foil and return broccoli to the tray. Make sure the broccoli is in a single layer and no pieces are touching or overlapped; you might need two trays depending on how much broccoli you have.

  6. Freeze for 3 hours or until frozen solid.

  7. Transfer broccoli into a zip-top bag or other air-tight freezer storage container. Label and date your broccoli, and use within 6-8 months.

How to Use Frozen Broccoli

Now that you’ve got your frozen broccoli, you may wonder what to do with it. The good news is there’s no shortage of delicious broccoli recipes. Frozen broccoli is perfect for broccoli cheese soup, broccoli chicken casserole, and easy broccoli and ham quiche. While blanching helps preserve broccoli’s snappy texture, frozen broccoli will always be a bit softer than freshly cooked broccoli. Look for recipes where the broccoli is cooked together with other items, and you won’t ever guess that it’s frozen.

If you want to roast your frozen broccoli or use it in a recipe where it stands alone, like broccoli and chicken stir-fry, ultra-high heat is your friend. For roasting, don’t defrost the broccoli first, and crank your oven up to 450 degrees F. While the oven is preheating, place your sheet tray in the oven so the tray is very hot as well. Roast broccoli for 15 to 20 minutes, or until crisp with golden-brown edges. Top with Parmesan, pine nuts, or balsamic vinegar for added flavor.


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