How to freeze vegetables to avoid losing nutrients

Freezing vegetables is a good alternative for storing these foods for longer and maintaining their nutrients. When frozen properly, vegetables last an average of 6 months, and spices like garlic and onions, 1 month.

Freezing vegetables is useful to take advantage of leftovers or seasonal vegetables, in addition to facilitating the preparation of salads and quick meals. Some examples of vegetables that can be frozen are carrots, broccoli, beets and peppers.

Types of freezing and forms of consumption 

The type of freezing is specific to each vegetable, as some need to be frozen raw, while others need to be cooked or blanched. Likewise, after defrosting some vegetables can only be used cooked or sautéed.

Thus, the table below indicates how to prepare some vegetables for freezing and how they can be used after defrosting.

Frozen FoodTo freezeCulinary preparation
Onion, parsleyWash and minceSalads or food preparation
BasilScaldSalads or sauces
Carrots, peppers, green beans, broccoli, spinachWashing, cutting and scaldingBraised salads, soups or meat stews
Potato, sweet potato, pumpkin, mandioquinhaWashing, cutting and scaldingBoiled, baked goods, soups, purees or chips
TomatoTo washMeat sauces or stews
BeetWash and blanchStews or soups
EggplantWashing, cutting and scaldingBraised salads or soups
Cabbage, zucchini, turnipWashing, cutting and scaldingBraised salads, soups, stews or meat stews
BeanCook and freeze with brothSeason and heat until boiling
Corn, peasWash and blanchSauteed salads, sauces or meat stews

How to prepare vegetables for freezing

To freeze the vegetables you need:

  • Buy good quality, fresh vegetables;
  • Remove the inedible peels;
  • Wash vegetables well, removing any visible dirt;
  • Cut the vegetables in the way you prefer to use them later, for example in cubes or slices.

In case the vegetable has a damaged part, it is important to remove it before freezing.

What can you do to keep your vegetables frozen longer?

After preparing the vegetables, it is necessary to scald and then give a thermal shock so that they do not spoil and so that the color and nutrients are maintained during the freezing time. This procedure is also called bleaching, and to do so, you must:

  • Place the vegetables for about 30 seconds to 2 minutes in boiling water;
  • Remove the vegetables from the water and place them in a bowl with water and ice;
  • Dry the vegetables on a clean cloth.

Freezing vegetables with excess water will leave them with a softer texture after thawing.

How to store

The vegetables can be packed in freezer bags or in a plastic or glass container with a lid. At this stage, the following precautions must be taken:

  • Pack only the amount that will be used later, as the vegetables stick together during freezing;
  • Remove all air from the freezing bag and close tightly;
  • If you freeze in tanks, cover them well so that the smell of vegetables does not pass to other foods in the freezer.

Frozen vegetables accumulate water and are no longer crunchy like when they are fresh, so ideally, they should be used in cooked or baked preparations.

How to freeze spices and herbs

The process of freezing vegetables used as spices, such as onions, garlic, basil and rosemary, includes washing, slicing and drying well before packing for freezing, without the need for a thermal shock step. It is important to highlight that the seasoning drying process must be very well done, as freezing the herbs that are still moist will make them not look good after freezing.

Another way to freeze the herbs is to put them in ice forms and fill with water or oil, removing the cubes according to the need for use. See also how to freeze fruit pulp .

How to defrost food

Vegetables should be defrosted before use, and the best way to defrost is to place them in the refrigerator the day before use. If you want to defrost faster, put the vegetable bag in cold water.

Seasonings in the form of leaves, such as basil and parsley, can be added crushed while still frozen, squeezing the bag where they were kept. They can also be added directly to preparations with water, such as soup and beans, but onions and garlic, for example, need to be defrosted before use.

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