Freezing Greens

This week’s CSA haul was 14 greens, and  carrots: 4 heads of lettuce (red leaf and romaine), 1 bunch of arugula, 1 head of bok choy, 1 head of broccoli, 1 bag of snap peas, 2 heads of chicory, 1 bunch of mustard greens, 1 bunch of red chard, 1 bunch of turnips with greens, 1 bunch of radishes with greens, and 1 bunch of carrots (with greens, but their greens are inedible).

Our refrigerator was still overflowing with greens from last week, so it was time to do a large batch of freezing.  We ended up freezing 2 bunches of kale from last week, both of the 2 heads of chicory from this week, the 1 bunch of mustard from this week, and this week’s turnip and radish greens together (because together they were roughly the quantity of one bunch of other greens).

I was initially leery of freezing anything that I wasn’t used to buying frozen at the grocery store.  I had it all backwards.  We rarely get peas, so we’ve never tried freezing them.  Green beans sometimes freeze well but sometimes end up stringy.  Broccoli that we freeze ourselves loses most of its texture and appeal.  Spinach doesn’t seem sturdy enough for home freezing.

On the other hand, we’ve had great success freezing kale, collards, mustard greens, eggplant, peppers, beets, corn, zucchini, and butternut squash.  We’ve had moderate success with tatsoi (leaves are good, stems get even more difficult to chew) and green beans (as I said before, sometimes they’re excellent, sometimes they’re stringy).  I gave general directions for freezing stuff last year, but I think it’s time to give directions more specific to greens.  If you really want to know what you’re doing, and in a form easy to have in the kitchen, invest in a copy of Putting Food By for which you can find bibliographical information on my References and Resources page.

Directions for Freezing Cooking Greens

  1. Wash the greens thoroughly.
  2. Cut them into whatever size you’ll want later.
  3. Immerse the greens in a pot of boiling water for 2 minutes (except for collards, which get 3 minutes).
  4. Immerse the greens in ice water for 2 minutes or longer, to stop the cooking process.
  5. Drain the greens as well as possible.
  6. Freeze.  For easier defrosting, freeze one bunch in a gallon bag, spread flat, so the greens form one thin layer.

Tips:  A deep-fry basket or metal colander works well for holding the greens.  Metal tongs work well for moving the colander from boiling water to ice water.  Use the tongs to pick up the greens and put them into a bag for freezing, too.  It’s important to keep everything sterile, because anything that gets into the greens could cause them to go bad sooner.

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2 Responses to “Freezing Greens”

  1. mangochild Says:

    I freeze my greens as well, but do it slightly differently. What I’ll do is put all the greens (kale, chard, collards, etc – not spinach though) in a huge pot and cook them down until they are entirely soft. I’ll then pulse them in the blender for a few seconds in batches so it is slightly broken down, but still chunky. It goes into the freezer containers and off to be frozen for use in Feb/March when there is little green in sight. So I guess it is more like freezing soup made from the greens, but it is so chunky that it doesn’t seem like it somehow when eating.
    I’ll have to try your method – does the texture change when you freeze it like that and then have to thaw it for use?

  2. vegyear Says:

    We’re picky about our vegetables (greens especially) not being over-cooked. I find that the method I described above works well for that, especially if you defrost the greens (at room temperature or in the refrigerator) before using them, and then add them as the last ingredient in a dish, so the dish can be done when the greens are done.

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