How to Blanch Vegetables

Take the frustration out of freezing produce with this simple guide for how to blanch vegetables.

Freezing food can be confusing. With a seemingly endless list of rules that differs from ingredient to ingredient (read up on how to freeze breads, cookies and fruit), the process can be quite intimidating for amateur and veteran cooks alike.

Thankfully, when it comes to freezing vegetables—our favorite things to freeze based on their naturally short lifespan—the rules generally hold true among the different varieties. If you’re planning to pack your produce away for a longer time and expect it to be in peak condition upon thawing, you must blanch it.

Why It’s Important to Blanch

Blanching helps preserve produce by reducing active enzymes. These are the microscopic molecules that destroy those fresh flavors we love so much. Blanching also helps heighten the color and flavor of vegetables that will be frozen for more than four weeks.

How to Blanch Vegetables

Fortunately, the process of blanching is quite easy. It’s little more than boiling an ingredient for a designated amount of time (see our chart below). The trick is to begin timing as soon as you place vegetables in boiling water. Set a timer for accuracy because under-blanching can stimulate enzymes, making it worse than not blanching at all—and over-blanching can cause veggies to lose flavor and color.

blanching time for vegetables

*If you’re looking to blanch a vegetable that’s not on this list, it likely needs to be fully cooked before freezing, such as lettuce, cucumbers, white cabbage and watercress.

Instructions:

  1. Fill a large saucepan or Dutch oven with enough water to cover vegetables and allow to boil.
  2. Add produce, cover and boil for the veggie’s respective blanching time listed in the chart above.
  3. Once finished, drain and immediately place your veggies in ice water for the same length of time to stop the cooking process.
  4. Drain and pat vegetables dry with a paper towel.
  5. Place vegetables in a single layer on a waxed paper- or foil-lined baking sheet and freeze. Be sure not to overcrowd the vegetables.
  6. Transfer frozen veggies to a heavy-duty freezer bag. Label and date the bag and freeze for up to three months.

Ready for more? Here are 19 foods you never knew you could freeze

Cooking Frozen Vegetables

When you’re ready to use your veggies, simply allow for them to thaw and carry on cooking them as if they were fresh. The only difference? You’ll need to cook them for a slightly shorter amount of time.

Here's What to Cook with Your Frozen Veggies
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Annamarie Higley
Annamarie is Taste of Home’s Shopping Editor and previously worked on the brand’s magazine and special issues. It was during this time she tapped into her love language, gifts, and spearheaded the print holiday gift guides in 2021 and 2022. She’s thrilled to continue creating gift guides full time for the shopping team, in addition to testing and reviewing products, spotlighting viral gadgets and editing freelanced content. A midwestern transplant from the San Francisco Bay Area, she enjoys hiking, crafting and—you guessed it!—shopping and cooking.