Freezing vegetables is an easy way to save the great flavors of ripe in-season vegetables to enjoy later in the year. See how easy it is to freeze vegetables below (hint, all you usually need are the vegetables in question, a container to put them in, and a freezer).
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Prepare the Vegetables
Rinse all vegetables clean and pat them dry.
Some require some trimming, peeling, and even blanching before heading into the freezer -- basically quickly dipping vegetables into boiling salted water, then moving to an ice bath to cool them off; the process sets the color so the veggies look good when they come out of the freezer. Here's how different vegetables freeze best:
- Asparagus, green beans, snap peas - trim them, cut into even pieces, if you like, and treat to a 1-minute blanch
- Bell peppers - stem, seed, and cut into large pieces (note their famously crunchy texture will not survive the freeze, but they'll be great in sauces and other cooked dishes)
- Broccoli & Cauliflower - cut into florets, 2-minute blanch
- Fava beans - shelled, peeled (they are blanched in this process, no need to re-blanch)
- Kale, chard, and other cooking greens - 2-minute blanch, then squeeze out as much water as possible
- Peas - shell, 1-minute blanch
- Spinach - 1-minute blanch (squeeze out excess water as it cools)
- Tomatoes - simply halved or otherwise cut into pieces and seeded; can be peeled (after a 30-second blanch), if you like, but know that the skins peel right off after freezing anyway
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Lay the prepared vegetables in a single layer on a large baking sheet or pan (make sure it fits flat in your freezer first!). You can line the pan with parchment paper, waxed paper, or aluminum foil if you like. Make sure the veggies aren't crowded and are touching each other as little as possible.
Put the veggie-laden sheet, flat, in the freezer until the vegetables are frozen solid. This usually takes an hour or two. You can leave the vegetables in the freezer uncovered like this up to overnight.
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Transfer Vegetables to Freezer Storage
Once the vegetables are frozen through, transfer them to heavy-duty freezer bags. Press out as much of the air as possible (you can get maniacal about it with a vacuum sealer if you have one, or suck the air out with a straw), seal the bag, and store in the back or coldest part of the freezer.
Frozen vegetables will last up to a year in a stand-alone freezer that isn't opened and closed a lot, and up to 6 months in a frequently opened freezer that's attached to a refrigerator.