Freezing fresh vegetables has many benefits. First, it enables you to preserve the fresh vegetables you purchase before they spoil. Also, by freezing vegetables, you preserve the nutrients they contain. Frozen vegetables can be easily thawed and cooked, so they can be enjoyed at any time of the year -- whether they are in season or not. Broccoli and cauliflower are among the vegetables that can be successfully frozen.
Plan ahead before you begin the process of freezing any vegetables. This includes selecting proper containers in which to store vegetables of all kinds in the freezer. Use flat-sided storage containers, either square or rectangular in shape. You can also use containers that are made of glass or rigid plastic, and those that are also moisture-proof and vapour-proof. Bags and waxed containers that are also moisture-proof and vapour-proof can also safely and effectively store frozen vegetables until they are ready to be thawed and heated for consumption.
Prepare fresh broccoli for the freezing process by taking off the outer leaves and woody sections of the broccoli. Wash the broccoli in cold, salted water. Salt in the water can be more effective in removing any insects on the broccoli.
Take the outer leaves off cauliflower as well and cut it into small florets. Sort the vegetables according to size.
Blanch the vegetables in boiling water or steam. To blanch in boiling water, boil at last one gallon of water. Place a pound of vegetables into the water in either a metal basket or cheesecloth bag. Place a lid on the pot and time the vegetables. Broccoli and cauliflower each take three minutes.
Blanch vegetables with steam by bringing just 1 to 2 inches of water to a rolling boil in a pot that contains a tight-fitting lid and a rack that can support a steaming basket or cheesecloth bag a few inches above the pot's bottom. Place the vegetables in a single layer on the bottom of the bag or basket so they blanch evenly. Cook each batch of broccoli or cauliflower for three minutes each. For the cauliflower, add the juice of one lemon to the water
Cool the vegetables by placing them into cold water (15.6 degrees C or colder) and continually replace the water so it remains cold, or put the vegetables under a steady stream of cold water or use ice water to cool them. One pound of ice should suffice for each pound of vegetables. Drain the vegetables once they are completely cool.
Pack the vegetables by using dry pack or tray pack techniques. Dry pack by storing blanched vegetables in small freezer bags or freezer-safe containers. To tray pack, place the blanched vegetables on trays or pans in a single layer and leave the tray in the freezer just until the vegetables are firm, then add them piece by piece into freezer bags for longer-term freezer storage.
- Freeze raw broccoli and cauliflower is when these vegetables are their freshest. The freezing will effectively preserve that quality. Pick vegetables in the morning (when the weather is cool) and conduct the freezing process within two hours.
- Eat frozen vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower, within 12 to 18 months after freezing them. They are safe to eat after that time period, but they taste better if their time in the freezer does not extend that 18 months.