Saturday, 11 March 2017

Cauliflower and broccoli ~ freeze easily without plastic wrap or bags

Cauliflower and broccoli are easy to freeze for storage and require no plastic wrap or bags.  Whether buying them cheaply when plentiful or growing your own, freezing is a great way to continue to have a good supply easily to hand.

Late this summer I had the great good fortune to be given a cauliflower by Peter, a generous neighbour.  It was a beauty and easily the largest I have ever seen being about the size of a soccer ball!  They don't keep all that well, losing their delicate flavour and crispness fairly rapidly, so I needed to do something with it quickly.  (If you don't much like these vegetables you may not have had a fresh one properly cooked to just the right amount.) 

I had a quick look at what other people do.  The methods I came across all used plastic wrap or bags, which I avoid completely.  There is absolutely no need for either.  I found that waxed paper and cotton or linen tea towels work perfectly well, with the result that when defrosted and cooked that fabulous cauliflower was as delicious as the day I received it!  

I have since used exactly the same method with broccoli and found it equally successful. 

Here is my method:
  • Chop the cauliflower or broccoli into pieces which are the size you will want for later cooking.
  • Place the pieces into a steamer over or in an adequately sized pot of rapidly boiling water.  I suggest you get that water fully boiling before you place the steamer over it, as you want cooking to be rapid and accurately measurable.
  • Keep that water at a rapid boil water for three to four minutes. 
  • Remove from heat and tip the cauliflower or broccoli into a colander or large sieve and dunk this in a sink of cold water to stop further cooking and chill veges thoroughly.  If your steamer has a handle at the side you won't need a collander or other draining container - just dunk the whole thing. 
  • Allow to drain
  • Tip veges onto a clean dry cotton or linen tea towel

  • Once most of the water has drained spread a fresh tea towel into the base of a freezer drawer or other large container such as a baking dish which will fit in the freezer.
  • Spread the pieces of cauliflower or broccoli keeping them in a single evenly spaced layer 
  • Fold over an edge of the tea towel to cover them and lay out another layer of cauliflower or broccoli on that, and continue until all of them are 'tucked up'.  
  • Leave them to fully freeze, say overnight.

  • Once frozen they can easily be plucked off the tea towel and you have your free-flow vegetables:

I always weigh this sort of thing so that if I'm following a recipe or creating something new I have a reasonable chance of replicating it!  So, it's out with the kitchen scales:
  • Lay a piece of wax paper on the scales, of a suitable size for folding and wrapping veges into parcels of a convenient size.  I find 100 to 150 gram parcels of veges suit me well.

  • Lift the paper with veges on it and fold it up into a parcel or place it directly into a container which can take a lid; fold the paper over if you haven't already, and write the weight on it.  I usually use ice cream containers.  Yes, I know this is plastic, but it is a reuse and can be reused many times!

  • Fill up the box with as many parcels as it will hold, 
  • Put the lid on and label it so that it can be easily identified and include the date.
  • Now it is ready to go into the freezer and you are done, apart from the clearing up, of which there is hardly any. 
Your delicious vegetables are then only a step away, and will have all the flavour and fresh consistency as they did before frozen. 

Tip for gardeners: 
Cauliflowers, broccoli and cabbages belong to the brassica family, which attract white butterflies in the same way that candles attract moths; their caterpillars can cause a lot of damage as they munch through tasty fresh growth!  With this in mind Peter has a large framework around the area where he has his brassicas, over which he places fine-mesh netting.  This prevents white butterflies from getting anywhere near them.  The result is that these vegetables are entirely free of their depredations.  Nice one, Peter!

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