Broccoli belongs to the brassica family and is a nutrient-rich vegetable. It is a common practice to freeze broccoli for non-seasonal use, or for use in areas where fresh green vegetables are not always available. In addition, it is quite easy and quick to freeze broccoli. The frozen broccoli can be stored in the freezer in a good condition for up to a year.
To begin with, you need a quantity of fresh broccoli with small, tight and unopened florets. If picking homegrown broccoli, it will help to know that vegetables that are harvested earlier in the day tend to retain their flavor more. In any case, whether purchased or homegrown, it is necessary to freeze broccoli on that same day as it tends to wilt fast and lose out on nutrients otherwise.
After washing the green vegetables under running water, the broccoli will need to be divested of any outer leaves and of the thick stalk, and it can then be split into separate florets. Many cooks dip the floret sections in salt water for an hour or so to get rid of any bugs or insects, but, obviously, if the broccoli is bug-free, there is no need for this step. The florets are then immersed in a pot of boiling water and boiled for two to three minutes. It is important not to overdo the boiling as this can cause early deterioration in the frozen broccoli later on.
The boiled broccoli stalks are then immediately immersed in ice cold water; by dropping the hot stalks into cold water the cooking process is halted. This whole process is known as blanching and it is done to stop the enzyme action in the vegetables as well as to kill off any existing bacteria. This process makes storing broccoli over a long period of time is possible. The vegetables retain their color, texture and taste to a large extent, and do not spoil in the deep freeze; if you attempted to freeze broccoli in the raw state, it would turn brown and spoil within a few days.
The blanched broccoli florets are drained and allowed to dry at room temperature. To freeze broccoli, the florets are packed into airtight plastic bags or plastic containers, and placed in the deep freezer. The frozen broccoli may be used in a variety of ways throughout the year. It can be boiled, steamed, stir-fried and roasted; it will help to remember that since it has already gone through the blanching process, the broccoli will only need a few minutes of cooking.