How to Blanch & Preserve Brassicas
As the season moves forward I am starting to get a lot of lush greens at the allotment. I want to freeze and preserve as much as possible to fill what is called the hunger gap. That is the period through the winter where there is little produce growing . So its good to be able to fall back on things that I have frozen in during the lush summer months.
I blanch my greens before I freeze them, and the reason for doing this is that they keep longer. Blanching is so quick and simple and I tend to do mine in batches. You need your chosen greens washed chopped with stalks removed, a large pan, a colander, a large bowl with ice, tea towels, small towel, a slotted spoon and a tray covered with non stick parchment. Set a large pan of water to boil and fill the bowl with cold water and ice . Once the pan of water is at a rolling boil add a few hands full of greens ( work in batches) and push them under with a slotted spoon. I blanch Nero cabbage and curly kale for two minutes, spinach and Swiss chard for one minute.
Once the time is up remove the greens with a slotted spoon into the ice water boil. I do this to retain as much of the boiling water as possible so I don't have to heat fresh water from scratch. This saves energy, water and a lot of time when you have a lot of batches to blanch.
Leave the greens in the ice water for just a minute until cool and then with the spoon lift the greens into the colander to drain. Once you get a system going you can have greens at all stages and rotate until all blanched.
The next stage I lay a towel on the work surface and cover with a tea towel. Lift some of the greens and sprinkle onto the tea towel. And gently pat them dry, turn then and continue. Its important to get them as dry as this prevents ice crystals forming which damage the produce when freezing. Once dry, place the parchment on tray and spread the greens on the tray ready to flat freeze. Again this can be done in batches.
For swiss chard and spinach I pack then into a silicone muffin tin so that I can freeze in small blocks.
Once the greens are placed in the freezer only leave them for about one hour until they are frozen, again this stops ice crystals forming. Then bag into label and dated freezer bags