Don’t let any of your garden veggies go to waste—freeze them for later instead! Of course, the process is a little more involved than just chopping them up and tossing them into your freezer. We’ll teach you exactly how to do it, including how to blanch vegetables, what kinds of containers to use, and how much headspace to leave in each container. When we’re through, you’ll be all set to save fresh veggies for the months to come!
Pans and utensils: To freeze vegetables, you need a colander and a large pot or saucepan with a wire basket. An accurate freezer thermometer will allow you to regulate your freezer temperature to 0°F or below.
Freezer containers: When freezing foods, use containers and packing materials that are durable, easy to seal, resist cracking at low temperatures, and are moisture- and vapor-resistant. Choose the right size of container for your volume of food; too much empty space can lead to oxidation and freezer burn. Remember that foods containing water expand when frozen, so make sure the containers are expandable, or leave enough headspace to allow for expansion. The following options work well for frozen veggies:
If you've got a big batch of carrots to freeze, or you want to save some of your summer sweet corn for later in the year, we're here to help! Follow these instructions for prepping and freezing specific veggies for the best results when you're ready to enjoy them:
How to Freeze Asparagus
Allow for 2½ to 4½ pounds of asparagus per quart. Wash; scrape off the scales. Break off the woody bases where the spears snap easily; wash again. Sort the asparagus by thickness. Leave whole or cut into 1-inch lengths.
To Freeze: Blanch small spears for 2 minutes, medium for 3 minutes, and large for 4 minutes. Cool quickly by plunging into ice water; drain. Fill your freezer containers and shake down, leaving no headspace.
How to Freeze Beans (Green, Italian, Snap, or Wax Beans)
Allow for 1½ to 2½ pounds of beans per quart. Wash the beans; remove the ends and strings. Leave whole or cut into 1-inch pieces.
To Freeze: Blanch for 3 minutes. Cool quickly by plunging into ice water; drain. Fill the containers and shake down, leaving a ½-inch headspace.
How to Freeze Beets
Allow for 3 pounds of beets (without tops) per quart. Trim off the beet tops, leaving 1 inch of stem and roots (this will reduce bleeding of color). Scrub the beets well.
To Freeze: Cook unpeeled beets in boiling water until tender (this should take about 25 to 30 minutes for small beets and 45 to 50 minutes for medium beets). Cool quickly by plunging into ice water; drain. Peel the beets; remove the stem and roots. Cut into slices or cubes. Fill containers, leaving a ½-inch headspace.
How to Freeze Carrots
Use 1- to 1¼-inch-diameter carrots (avoid using larger carrots; they might be too fibrous for freezing). Allow for 2 to 3 pounds of carrots per quart. Wash, trim, and peel the carrots, then rinse again. Leave tiny carrots whole; slice or dice the remaining carrots.
To Freeze: Blanch tiny whole carrots for 5 minutes and cut-up carrots for 2 minutes. Cool quickly by plunging into ice water; drain. Pack tightly into containers, leaving a ½-inch headspace.
How to Freeze Whole Kernel Corn
Allow for 4 to 5 pounds of corn per quart. Remove the husks; scrub the corn with a vegetable brush to remove the silks. Wash and drain.
To Freeze: Cover ears with boiling water; return to boiling and boil for 4 minutes. Cool by plunging into ice water; drain. Cut corn from the cobs at two-thirds depth of kernels—do not scrape the corn off the cob. Fill the containers, leaving a ½-inch headspace.
How to Freeze Peas (English and Green Peas)
Allow for 2 to 2½ pounds of peas per pint. Wash, shell, rinse, and drain.
To Freeze: Blanch the peas for 1½ minutes. Cool them quickly by plunging them into ice water; drain. Fill your containers, shaking them down and leaving a ½-inch headspace.
How to Freeze Hot Peppers
Select firm jalapeño or other chile peppers and wash them. Halve large peppers. Remove stems, seeds, and membranes. Place the peppers, cut sides down, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake in a 425°F oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the skins are bubbly and brown. Cover the peppers or wrap them in foil; let stand about 15 minutes or until cool. Pull the skins off gently and slowly using a paring knife.
To Freeze: Package in freezer containers, leaving no headspace.
How to Freeze Sweet Peppers
Select firm green, bright red, or yellow peppers and wash them. Remove the stems, seeds, and membranes. Place the peppers, cut sides down, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake in a 425°F oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the skins are bubbly and brown. Cover the peppers or wrap them in foil; let stand about 15 minutes or until cool. Pull the skins off gently and slowly using a paring knife.
To Freeze: Quarter large pepper pieces or cut into strips. Fill the containers, leaving a ½-inch headspace. You can also spread the peppers in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze them until firm. Fill your containers, shaking to pack them closely together and leaving no headspace.
Vegetables are best cooked from a frozen state without thawing them first. Thaw fruits in their containers either in the refrigerator or in a bowl of cold water. Meats, soups, and casseroles should be thawed in the refrigerator for a day or two, in the microwave on defrost, or in a leakproof plastic bag immersed in cold water (change water every 30 minutes). Use frozen fruits and vegetables within 8 to 10 months.