Fresh Frozen Broccoli
After cooking fresh broccoli, I drain it and store some in the freezer for later use. Once thawed, it is always soggy. What can I do to prevent this? —G.S., Jersey City, New Jersey
Broccoli that has been fully cooked does not freeze well, as you have discovered. To get the best results when freezing vegetables, try blanching them first—this slows or stops the enzyme action that can cause loss of flavor, color and texture. It also cleans the produce and helps prevent loss of vitamins. To blanch vegetables, steam or cook them in boiling water for a short time. The amount of time varies, depending on the kind of vegetable and its size. Blanching too long can lead to loss of flavor, color, vitamins and minerals.
To freeze broccoli, choose young tender stalks. Trim off the large leaves and tough parts of the stems. Wash stalks thoroughly and cut lengthwise into uniform pieces, leaving florets about 1-1/2 inches across. Heat in rapidly boiling water for 3 minutes or in a steamer basket over boiling water for 5 minutes. Immediately plunge broccoli into ice-cold water to stop cooking. Without proper cooling, frozen broccoli will develop bigger ice crystals and a limper texture. Package broccoli in sturdy resealable plastic bags, removing any air pockets before sealing. Use within 10 months.