5 Tips for Freezing Garden Vegetables

Preserve your harvest to enjoy year-round by learning the proper way to freeze your fresh garden vegetables.

There’s nothing quite like fresh, crisp veggies straight from the garden. But by late summer, you may be up to your ears in peppers, broccoli or beans. So what will you do with all those extras? Freeze those vegetables! It’s easier and faster than canning—all you need is a little freezer space to enjoy tasty veggies year-round. If you do want to try canning, here are the canning supplies you need.

Time is of the essence. Make sure you’re ready to freeze your harvest immediately after you pick it. The longer it sits, the more flavor and nutritional value it loses. If you can’t freeze your vegetables right away, store them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to start the freezing process.

Do the Prep Work

Even though your crop isn’t going directly into your mouth, it should be washed before you get started. After the vegetables are washed, cut them into small pieces. Think about how you’ll use each veggie and cut it accordingly. Prepare it for freezing just as you would if you were going to put it on the table. Check out 10 fast-growing vegetables you can harvest quickly.

Blanch Before Freezing

Think you can just throw your veggies into the freezer? Not so fast. Raw vegetables need to be blanched first. Blanching stops the active enzymes that determine the color and flavor of the vegetables. All it takes is putting your produce in boiling water for a bit.

Generally, a gallon of water per pound of prepared vegetables is sufficient. Use a blancher, or find a wire basket that fits in a large pot with a lid. Fill the basket with the prepared veggies and plunge into boiling water.

Cool Veggies Down

Immediately after the veggies are done blanching, plunge them into a bowl of ice water to cool. Keep them in there for the same amount of time they were in the boiling water. Drain them once they’re cooled, and get ready to pack them away.

Use the Right Container

It may not seem important, but the container in which you freeze your precious bounty is actually crucial. For best results, the container should be smaller than a half-gallon. For a top-notch thawed product, smaller is ideal.

Your best bet is to use plastic containers or resealable freezer bags. Plastic containers are handy because they stack well in the freezer. For vegetables with odd sizes or shapes, a freezer bag works like a charm.

No matter what container you choose, make sure it’s firmly sealed and tightly packed. Freezer burn can damage food that hasn’t been properly wrapped. And don’t forget to label the package with the date.

Eat Frozen Veggies While Fresh

Food in the freezer doesn’t last forever. It’s best to use your frozen harvest within eight to 12 months for the best flavor and highest level of nutrients. And by that time, you’ll have a whole new harvest!

Kirsten Schrader
Kirsten has more than 15 years of experience writing and editing birding and gardening content. As content director of Birds & Blooms, she leads the team of editors and freelance writers sharing tried-and-true advice for nature enthusiasts who love to garden and feed birds in their backyards. Since joining Birds & Blooms 17 years ago, Kirsten has held roles in digital and print, editing direct-to-consumer books, running as many as five magazines as a time and managing special interest publications. Kirsten has traveled to see amazing North American birds, and attended various festivals, including Sedona Hummingbird Festival, Rio Grande Bird Festival, The Biggest Week in American Birding Festival and Cape May Spring Festival. She has also witnessed the epic sandhill crane migration while on a photography workshop trip to Colorado. Kirsten has participated in several GardenComm and Outdoor Writers Association of America annual conferences and is a member of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology. When she's not researching, writing and editing all things birding and gardening, Kirsten is enjoying the outdoors with her nature-loving family. She and her husband are slowly chipping away at making their small acreage the backyard of their dreams.