Sunday, June 17, 2012

Broccoli/Calabrese Harvest and Freezing

Couldn't believe the size of some of my Broccoli yesterday morning. Harvest time beckoned.

I have included photos of my blanching and freezing of the broccoli to keep it over the next few months. Note - before you start, you should make sure that you have enough space in your freezer to store them all especially if you are trying to freeze them individually. You are better off blanching and freezing as soon as possible after picking to ensure maximum freshness, but they will hold for a couple of days in the fridge if its not a suitable time.

These were seedlings I bought back in early April and sowed under cloche for the first month. They have turned out so well - I might do some this way next year and also bring on my own for a later sowing.

You need to watch your broccoli carefully when the heads are formed as they can quickly turn to flowering (which indeed is what we eat - the flower buds!) and you will have missed your harvest after all your hard work caring for them.



A fine sized pot of broccoli and the headless plants!


Lovely full heads - ran out of space in the big sauspan bringing them in. Wouldn't be Irish without the cup of tea on the side!


 

First batch chopped up into usable sizes. If you have a large amount of harvest, it is better to do them in small batches or else your boiling water will cool too much when you put them in.


To blanch them, put them into boiling water for just one minute. They retain a lovely deep green colour after blanching as above. The water afterwards looks like the hulk took a bath in it!!



To cool them afterwards, I place them directly into a bowl of iced water. This helps cool them down quickly to stop them from further cooking ( as otherwise they turn to mush when cooked later on). I then place them on clean tea-towels to dry before starting the freezing process.


 

You can just bag them up once cooled and dried, but if you freeze them that way, you may find that the whole lot freeze in one big iceburg and make it difficult to pick out just the few pieces you want at any time. I line them up in trays, any plastic boxes with lids - all separate so they aren't touching.



This was the freezer once I had the whole lot done - about 8 heads of broccoli freezing here. Give them a few hours in the freezer before bagging up to reduce the space required in the freezer.


 

Remember to date and label your bag prior to putting in the vegetable - it is much easier to do when the bag is empty. I'm not sure how long they will store in your freezer, I just know that all mine will be used up before they go out of date anyway!

They will only require about 5 minutes ( adjust less if you prefer more crunch in your Broccoli) in boiling water to cook from frozen or can be added directly to your stir-fry.

Broccoli has some great nutritional values - click here for a link to them on Wikipedia

I have left the plants to continue growing as from past experience, there will be further (although smaller) heads that will appear at the sides of the plants.