Cauliflower is loaded with vitamins like Vitamin C and Vitamin B-6. That’s not all, you also have some fiber and antioxidants in there. In not too complex words, Cauliflower is a healthy, low-carb, versatile vegetable.
Cauliflower can be used in different recipes. You can make mashed cauliflowers or roast cauliflowers to eat. You can even make cauliflower rice. Unfortunately, cauliflower doesn’t have a long shelf life. You can get them from convenience stores, but cannot voucher for their freshness. How do you preserve fresh cauliflower?
Can you freeze cauliflower? Yes, you can. Freezing prolongs the shelf life of cauliflower to a whole year. It is also the best way to preserve cauliflower because cauliflower doesn’t dehydrate well and turns into mush under extreme pressure that is usually present in pressure canned goods.
Freezing is a great way of preserving cauliflower apart from the fact that it protects the texture, it keeps the nutrients in the vegetable better than any other preservation method.
How to Freeze Cauliflower
Cauliflower is very delicate so it is prone to freezer burn. But, heavy-duty freezer-friendly containers or bags will help to keep the cauliflower from the harsh conditions present inside the freezer.
Step 1: Wash and Cut into Florets
Wash the cauliflower under running water. Wash thoroughly so you can catch the dirt and debris that might be stuck in there. Then divide the cauliflower into smaller pieces; Florets. Normally, you can do this with your hands, but if it proves to be a bit hard, use a sharp kitchen knife. Check the cauliflower for bugs or stuck debris you might have missed.
Step 2: Blanch the Florets
Blanching vegetables help you stop the ripening process and slow down enzymatic actions that will cause it to rot. Then, it also helps you keep the nutrients in the vegetable, keeps the color, taste, and texture too. Making your vegetable still palatable to eat after freezing.
Put a pan of water on the fire to boil. Take your time and wait for the water to boil. While you wait, check if your florets are evenly sized. You can cut the ones that seem to be too large into a smaller size that would match the rest. This way all of the florets will get blanched properly.
Before the water boils, make sure you have your iced water ready in a big bowl. That’s your ice bath.
Getting the florets out of the hot bath fast might be tricky, here’s a tip for that. Get a colander with a handle that will fit into the pan of boiling water. Put the florets into the colander and immerse them into the pan of boiling water. Make sure the water covers all of the florets. Set a timer for 4 minutes and wait.
Once the time has elapsed, lift the colander out of the hot bath and dump the florets into the ice bath to stop the cooking process. Feel free to add more ice to the mixture if you feel the need.
Wait until the cauliflower is cool to the touch, then drain with a colander and leave to air dry. You can fast track the air-drying process by using paper towels to pat the florets dry. But be careful not to break or bruise them.
Step 3: Tray Freezing
Once the florets are no longer moist, spread them out on a tray or baking sheet, make sure there is space between each one. Pre-freezing the florets helps it easier to use when you defrost them. Then, place the tray into the freezer to freeze for an hour or two.
Step 4: Storage and Freezing
Get your hands on heavy-duty freezer bags. Then get your tray of frozen cauliflower out of the freezer and transfer them into these freezer bags. Don’t fill the bags to the brim, use multiple bags if you have to. Press the bag flat, or suck out the air with a straw to keep air out of the bags before you seal them.
Before you place the bags into the freezer, there’s one more thing left to do. Label the bags with a marker or sharpie, stating the content of the bag and the date of the freeze. Remember that if you ever forget your cauliflower in the freezer, this will help you know how long you have stored it.
Can You Freeze Cauliflower Without Blanching?
Yes, you can. But I doubt it would last as long as blanched ones would in the freezer. Even if it does, you might not like the look. It might come out looking dull and limp as a result of the loss of nutrients, color, and texture.
Blanching is very necessary when you consider freezing vegetables or fruits. You can decide to do without blanching if you would be freezing the food items for no longer than a month. But, for the best quality and longer shelf life, blanching is compulsory.
How to Thaw Frozen Cauliflower
You do not have to thaw frozen cauliflower before you use it. You can roast or cook them while still frozen. Additionally, you may also microwave cauliflower.
If you are going to cook them, you should subtract the blanching time of 4 minutes from the general cooking time so that you avoid overlooking them.