Blanching vegetables preserves nutrients
Freezing vegetables, if done correctly can help you store good quality food for later use.
Freezing is one of the easiest methods of preserving foods. The extreme cold of freezing vegetables retards the growth of microorganisms and slows down chemical changes that affect the quality. By following the directions for freezing foods, the quality and nutrition is maintained. Enzymes in vegetables are slowed down, but not destroyed during freezing. If not inactivated, these enzymes can cause color and flavor changes, as well as nutrient loss.
The term “blanching” refers the process of immersing vegetables into boiling water or steam for a timed period and then rapidly cooling in ice water to prevent further cooking. Vegetable enzymes are inactivated by blanching. This method is used when freezing vegetables at home. Blanching cleans off dirt and organisms from the surface of vegetables. Immersing vegetables in boiling water or steam for a brief period of time maintains their quality and nutrition.
Blanching times vary with each vegetable and size. It is important to follow research-based recipes for exact blanching times. Under blanching stimulates the activity of enzymes and will make the product overcooked. Over blanching can cause loss of flavor, color, vitamins and minerals.
Water blanching requires one gallon of water per pound of prepared vegetables. Vegetables are put in a blanching basket or colander and lowered into rapidly boiling water. Cover and let water return to rolling boil. Start timing according to directions when water returns to boiling.
Steam blanching is recommended for some vegetables, but takes about 1.5 times longer than water blanching. Steaming requires a pot with a tight lid and a basket that holds the food at least three inches above the bottom of the pot. Put one or two inches of water in the pot and bring water to boil. Place vegetables in single layer so steam reaches all parts. Cover and count steaming time according to recipe.
When blanching is complete, quickly cool vegetables into a large quantity of cold water. Cooling vegetables should take the same amount of time as blanching. Drain vegetables thoroughly after cooling. There are a variety of containers to use for freezing. Appropriate containers should he moisture resistant, durable, leak proof, protect from odors and easy to seal. Freeze foods as soon as they are sealed. Keep freezer temperature at zero degrees or below.
Freezing is a safe method to preserve any food. Foods with a high water content, like lettuce may not have an acceptable quality. Taking this in consideration any food can be frozen, but following proper blanching times and recipes will led to a higher quality product.