As the weather gets warmer and many greens start to bloom, also known as bolting, you might end up with a lot of greens you can’t possibly eat in time. This year, I had a successful backyard kale crop while enjoying a local community supported agriculture (CSA) share. Needless to say, I’ve been swimming in greens! I wanted to share my tips and tricks for blanching greens to save and enjoy them for months to come. - Natalie Rider, OAK's Assistant Director
What is blanching?
Blanching is a way to prepare foods for freezing. It helps ensure that the nutrients packed into produce are preserved during and after the freezing process. Blanching is the process of dunking produce in boiling water for two minutes then quickly submerging it in ice water to rapidly cool, locking in the nutrients.
What You Need:
Any seasonal greens
Stovetop cooking pot
How to Blanch:
Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil on the stove and prepare an ice bath for the greens. Depending on the quantity of greens, prepare a pot of ice water or fill a cooler up about half-way with water and ice.
Wash the greens to remove any insects or soil. Remove the stem on the greens up to where the leaf starts and give them a quick chop.
Once the water is boiling, drop the leaves or other produce into the boiling water and push them under with a wooden spoon, setting a timer for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, pull the greens out of the boiling water with a slotted spoon or a metal colander and submerge them immediately into the ice bath.
The greens stay in the ice bath until they become ice-cold, which takes about 30-60 seconds. Then, remove the greens and let them drain.
Once the greens are drained remove any remaining express water to prevent freezer burn and add them to a freezer-safe container (i.e. plastic or silicone freezer bag or freezer-safe glass jar).
Make ice for blanching: Fill an old cottage cheese, yogurt, or other container with water and freeze it in advance of blanching. This way, when you’re ready to blanch, you have plenty of ice to work with instead of using up all of your ice cubes and ice packs.
Use a metal colander to transfer the greens: Dunk a metal colander with the raw greens right into the pot of boiling water and then transfer it into the ice bath. This eliminates the step of scooping greens out of the boiling water. Just be sure to mind the hot handle.
Do multiple batches: It’s easy to blanch multiple rounds of greens, using the same boiling water and ice water for each batch, even if they are different plants.
Pre-portion greens before freezing: Whether you’re conscious of freezer space or looking for portion sizes, try freezing greens first in a silicone muffin cup or a rectangular silicone loaf pan. Place the silicone container right into the freezer. Once the greens are frozen, pop them out and place them into a freezer-safe container or bag where they’ll store until I’m ready to eat them.
Use them for a winter meal: Greens can stay in the freezer for up to 12 months. They work great for an omelet, soup, side, or casserole.
Reuse the water: Save the nutrients left in the boiling water and pour it back on your garden or lawn once it is cooled. Same with the ice water.
We hope this inspires you to blanch greens, preserve foods, and extend the life of your CSA, garden, or grocery produce! Happy blanching!