Escarole is another one of the healthy greens that people popularly use in their cooking recipes. This leafy vegetable has a close resemblance to lettuce and a few other leafy greens. Escarole is a common ingredient in Italian foods – Italian wedding soup for instance.
As part of its attributes, the vegetable has a bitter taste that can be reduced through blanching. If you’ve eaten original Italian meals before, you may have had a good amount of escarole in pasta, soup, stew, or even salad.
One reason you may get confused with escarole’s physical appearance is that it is usually stocked alongside other leafy greens like lettuce and kale at the store.
In addition to escarole’s versatility for cooking purposes, it is also highly nutritional. The natural constituents of the plant make it a healthy addition in our diet. Escarole is rich in Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, folate, iron, fiber, zinc, and more. The copper content of this leafy green makes it great for red blood cell formation and good bone fortification.
Considering how healthy and versatile escarole is, you may desire to stock up on the vegetable. However, whether you’re planning to stock up on it, or you simply want to keep leftovers from wasting, you’ll need an effective preservation method.
So, can you freeze escarole? Yes, you can freeze escarole. Considering the fact that escarole is a bitter leafy green, you may be wondering if you’re to blanch it first before freezing. You don’t actually have to blanch escarole first before freezing it.
By using the correct approach, you’ll be able to preserve as much escarole as you want through freezing.
While refrigeration is a short-term preservation option that keeps fresh escarole for about 3-5 days, freezing can potentially preserve your fresh escarole for up to 6 months. Many people will recommend blanching greens before proceeding to freeze them. However, this article will show you how to successfully freeze your escarole without first having to blanch it.
There are various reasons why you’d want to freeze some escarole. You may have a garden in your backyard that’s filled with fresh grown escarole. Once the escarole is ready for harvesting, you would want an effective means of preserving the excess vegetable. Also, you may have bought the leafy green in excess due to a discounted price at the grocery store.
Whatever your reason for seeking a means of preservation, freezing is the surest way to go.
How to Freeze Escarole
Remember, when done correctly, your fresh escarole can be preserved for up to 6 months. So, what are the correct steps for freezing escarole? The correct steps include:
Step 1: Pre-Freeze the Escarole
The first step to follow is to pre-freeze your batch of fresh escarole. The purpose of pre-freezing escarole is to ensure that its original taste and texture are well preserved. Pre-freezing can be easily done in a few steps:
- Grab a baking sheet and line its base with some wax paper. The purpose of the wax paper is to keep the escarole from sticking to the base of the baking sheet during freezing.
- Go ahead to spread the escarole out on the baking sheet. Make sure that the escarole is spread out flat on the baking sheet.
- Place the baking sheet with the escarole inside the freezer and leave it there for about 3 hours.
- After 3 hours, check to see if the escarole is solidly frozen. Take the frozen escarole out of the freezer and get ready for the final packaging.
Step 2: Pack the Escarole in a Freezer-Safe Bag
Now that the escarole is pre-frozen, start transferring it into quality freezer-safe bags. Freezer-safe bags are usually preferable to containers because they don’t take up as much space in the freezer. You should also try to remove as much air as possible from inside the freezer-safe bag before sealing it off.
You can make use of a vacuum sealing machine to remove air inside the bag or manually use a straw to suck out the air from within the bags. Either ways, removing air from the freezer bag keeps the escarole from coming in direct contact with cold freezer air.
Step 3: Label the Freezer Bag and store in a Secure Freezer Compartment
To keep track of how long the escarole has been frozen for, use a marker to write the present date on the freezer bag. You’ll also need to locate a safe compartment in the freezer. It is important that you keep heavier objects and food items away from the bag of escarole – so as to avoid getting it crushed by their weight.
How to Thaw Frozen Escarole
Before you proceed to thaw your escarole, you must keep in mind that you shouldn’t refreeze any thawed escarole. That means there’s no room for leftovers. To avoid waste, make sure you only thaw a portion of the leafy green that you can finish at once.
You can easily thaw frozen escarole by leaving it to sit in the refrigerator for several hours. If you do not want to get bored with the long wait, you can do the thawing overnight. In addition to defrosting in the fridge, you can also leave the escarole out on the countertop to defrost at room temperature – this will take about an hour or two.
Blanching Escarole and Other Greens
Before you decide to blanch your escarole, you should know that the pre-freezing method given earlier is just as effective as blanching in the preservation of escarole; although blanching has an additional ability to reduce the escarole’s bitterness.
To blanch your escarole and other greens, here’s what to do:
- Grab a large pot and fill it with enough water.
- Set the pot over a fire and let the water boil
- Submerge the escarole in the boiling hot water for about 3 minutes – be careful not to leave it in the hot water too long so that it doesn’t start cooking
- Take the escarole out of the boiling hot water after 3 minutes
- Proceed to rinse the escarole in a bowl of cool water
- Drain the water from the escarole and dry it properly
With these steps followed, you’ll have your escarole blanched and ready to freeze.