Can You Freeze Broccoli Rabe?

by Charlie

Broccoli rabe is one of those bitter greens that people commonly use in their cooking. Italians call rabe rapini – you may have come across the term before. Personally I like using bitter greens in my cooking.

However, not everyone loves the bitter taste of broccoli rabe. Broccoli rabe isn’t the same exact thing as the popular broccoli. Surprisingly, broccoli rabe is much closer to the turnip, regardless of its physical broccoli-like appearance.

One particular feature of the broccoli rabe I like is that all of its parts can be eaten. In addition to its complete edibility, broccoli rabe is also a healthy plant. 

Broccoli rabe contains lots of vitamins C, vitamin K, vitamin A, and minerals like iron, calcium, and more. If you’re on a weight loss regimen, you can add broccoli rabe to your diet. It fills you up easily while also facilitating weight loss – all thanks to its large fiber and water contents. Generally, broccoli rabe is known to improve skin health, shield the eyes from harmful light rays, cut down risk of illness, and much more. 

If you want to enjoy the benefits of broccoli rabe without so much of the bitter taste, you can blanch the rabe to reduce its bitterness.  

Now, you may have purchased some fresh in-season broccoli rabe at the farmer’s market, but you’re left with excess from your cooking. What do you do?

Can you freeze broccoli rabe? Yes, you can freeze broccoli rabe. Interestingly, broccoli rabe will keep safely in the freezer for up to 12 months! This means that you’ll have a fresh supply of rabe all through the year till the plant is in season again.

There are correct steps to follow when freezing broccoli rabe and those steps must be followed if you want the best results. 

You should also know that even though your broccoli rabe can be kept frozen beyond 12 months, the freshness and overall quality will significantly reduce after the first 12 months of storage.    

Freezing Broccoli Rabe 

Once your freezer’s temperature is set to 0⁰F, you’ll be able to preserve your batch of broccoli rabe indefinitely. Depending on your individual preference you may decide to or not to blanch the rabe before freezing. If you don’t need the freezer’s long-term storage you can alternatively preserve your broccoli rabe in the refrigerator for a couple of days – about 3 full days.  

Now that we’ve established how effective freezing is in the preservation of broccoli rabe, you can go ahead to stock up on it. Instead of just preserving some leftovers, you can go get some rabe at the market with the intention of freezing the whole batch for later use. It is advised that your purchase your batch of broccoli rabe in early spring, which is the peak season for the plant. 

How to Freeze Broccoli Rabe   

When done correctly, your broccoli rabe will last long in the freezer without losing its integrity. Simple steps for preserving broccoli rabe through freezing are:  

Step 1: Blanch the Broccoli Rabe   

Blanching is a process done to significantly reduce the bitter taste of broccoli rabe. Apart from broccoli rabe, blanching can also be used for lots of other cooking greens. To blanch the broccoli rabe you’ll need to boil some water – put salt in the boiling water. 

Once the salted water starts boiling, put all the broccoli rabe in it and leave for about 2 – 3 minutes. After that go ahead to drain the water from the rabe and squeeze out any water that’s still left in it. 

Step 2: Dry the Broccoli Rabe and Pack it   

After blanching the broccoli rabe you’ll need to get it dry. It won’t be good to freeze the rabe while it’s still wet. After the broccoli rabe is dry, start transferring it into a resealable freezer-safe bag. If one bag won’t do you can use two or more.

Once the rabe is inside the freezer-safe bag, you’ll need to remove as much air as possible from inside the bag. If you have a vacuum seal machine at home use it to remove the air and seal off the bags tightly. 

If you don’t have a vacuum seal machine at home you can make use of a straw. Simply push the straw into the bag’s opening and such out as much air as you can. After that you’ll need to quickly close the bag and seal it tight.  

Step 3: Place in Deepest Secure Freezer Compartment 

After vacuuming the freezer bags go ahead to locate the deepest compartment in your freezer. Place the packed broccoli rabe in that compartment and keep till a later date. 

Remember to write the current date on the freezer-safe bag(s) so that you can always know how long the broccoli rabe has been kept frozen for.  

How to Defrost Frozen Broccoli Rabe 

Based on what you’re cooking, you may use frozen broccoli rabe directly in the cooking. However if your recipe calls for the rabe to be defrosted, you can easily get that done. Grab a bowl that’s large enough to hold all the frozen broccoli rabe and put the rabe in it.

Next, fill up the bowl of frozen broccoli rabe with hot water. Leave the rabe covered in hot water for a couple of minutes and drain it out once its temperature cools down. If the broccoli still isn’t defrosted well, you may cover it in some hot water again.  

How to Tell if Broccoli Rabe is Bad   

It is never a good idea to eat any food that has gone bad. If your broccoli rabe has gone bad it will have lost its original texture – the rabe will now have a softer texture with a variation of its original color. The rabe will also have an unusual smell. Make sure you toss all bad broccoli rabe in the trash. 

How Long Does Broccoli Rabe Last in the Freezer? 

If packed correctly, broccoli rabe will last really long in the freezer. At 0⁰F, broccoli rabe can be kept in the freezer indefinitely. However, it is best to use the broccoli rabe within the first 12 months of freezing.

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