How to Blanch Vegetables for Freezing

Blanching is necessary before freezing almost all vegetables. It stops enzyme actions that can cause loss of flavor, color and texture.

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Blanching cleanses the vegetable surface, brightens the color of the vegetables, and limits the loss of vitamins. It also makes vegetables easier to pack for freezing. Blanching time varies with the type and size of the vegetable.

Water Blanching

Use one gallon of water per pound of prepared vegetables. Place the vegetable into a blanching basket and lower into boiling water. Place a lid on the blancher. If you are using the correct amount of vegetables for the amount of water, the water should return to boiling within 1 minute. Start counting blanching time as soon as the water returns to a boil. Keep heat high for the time given in the directions for the vegetable you are freezing.

Steam Blanching

Broccoli, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and winter squash can be boiled or steamed. Steam blanching takes about 1.5 times longer than water blanching.

To steam, use a pot with a tight lid and a basket that holds the food at least three inches above the bottom of the pot. Put an inch or two of water in the pot and bring the water to a boil.

Put the vegetables in the basket in a single layer so that steam reaches all the vegetables quickly. Cover the pot and keep heat high. Start counting steaming time as soon as the lid is on.

Cooling

After blanching, vegetables should be cooled quickly and thoroughly to stop the cooking process. To cool, plunge the basket of vegetables immediately into a large quantity of cold water, 60 degrees F or below. Change water frequently or use cold running water or ice water. Use about one pound of ice for each pound of vegetable. Cooling vegetables should take the same amount of time as blanching.

Drain vegetables thoroughly after cooling. Extra moisture can cause a loss of quality when vegetables are frozen.

Blanching Times*

Vegetable Blanching Time
(minutes)
Artichoke-Globe
(Hearts)
7
Artichoke-Jerusalem 3-5
Asparagus
Small Stalk
Medium Stalk
Large Stalk
2
3
4
Beans-Snap, Green, or Wax 3
Beans-Lima, Butter, or Pinto
Small
Medium
Large
2
3
4
Beets steam
Broccoli
(flowerets 11/2 inches across)
Steamed
3
5
Brussel Sprouts
Small Heads
Medium Heads
Large Heads

3
4
5

Cabbage or Chinese Cabbage
(shredded)
1 1/2
Carrots
Small
Diced, Sliced or Lengthwise Strips
5
2
Cauliflower
(flowerets, 1 inch across)
3
Celery 3
Corn
Corn-on-the-cob
Small Ears
Medium Ears
Large Ears
Whole Kernel or Cream Style
(ears blanched before cutting corn from cob)

7
9
11

4

Eggplant 4
Greens
Collards
All Other
3
2
Kohlrabi
Whole
Cubes
3
1
Mushrooms
Whole (steamed)
Buttons or Quarters (steamed)
Slices steamed)
5
3 1/2
3
Okra
Small Pods
Large Pods
3
4
Onions
(blanch until center is heated)
Rings
3-7
10-15 seconds
Peas-Edible Pod 1 1/2-3
Peas-Field (blackeye) 2
Peas-Green 1 1/2
Peppers-Sweet
Halves
Strips or Rings
3
2
Potatoes-Irish (New) 3-5
Pumpkin steam
Rutabagas 3
Soybeans-Green 5
Squash-Chayote 2
Squash-Summer 3
Squash-Winter steam
Sweet Potatoes steam
Turnips or Parsnips
Cubes
2

* blanching times are for water blanching unless otherwise indicated.

This document incorporates information from “So Easy to Preserve”, 5th ed. 2006. Bulletin 989, Cooperative Extension Service, The University of Georgia, Athens. Revised by Elizabeth L. Andress, Ph.D. and Judy A. Harrison, Ph.D., Extension Foods Specialists.

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