Cauliflower is a versatile and delicious vegetable that is a popular ingredient in most low-carb, healthy recipes. This makes cauliflower an excellent candidate to grow in your garden or buy an extra haul of at the grocery. While cauliflower does have a decent shelf life when stored in the refrigerator, you might want to freeze cauliflower for extended shelf life.
The process for freezing cauliflower is pretty straightforward. Start with some fresh cauliflower heads and prepare them by cutting, cleaning, and blanching them. Flash freeze the cauliflower florets, and once frozen solid, transfer them to freezer bags for storage! Nice and simple!
Cauliflower is one of the easier vegetables to purchase. Here are three tips that will make buying cauliflower a breeze.
Tip #1: Buy cauliflower heads that are firm with tightly packed florets and crisp leaves. The crisp leaves tell you that the cauliflower is fresh.
Tip #2: The cauliflower should be uniformly colored without any discolorations. Avoid any cauliflower heads that have brown spots. While the brown spots don’t mean that you cannot eat the vegetable, it does mean that it has been in storage for a while.
Tip #3: A fresh and flavorful cauliflower will seem heavy for its size.
Now that you know how to buy cauliflower let’s prepare it for freezing.
To blanch the cauliflower, heat a large pot of water on the stove. Add the cauliflower florets and stem to the water and let the water come to a boil once again. Let the cauliflower blanch for 2 – 3 minutes or until they just start turning soft. Check on their state by poking with a fork. Once blanched, transfer them to a cold water bath using a slotted spoon and let them cool to room temperature. Drain the cauliflower florets and let them dry before moving to the next step.
The next step is to flash freeze the cauliflower. To do this, you can use a nonstick baking tray if you have one or prepare a regular baking tray by lining it with parchment paper. Spread the cauliflower in a single layer on the baking tray, ensuring that none of the pieces overlap one another. This will prevent them from freezing stuck to one another. Load your prepared tray in the freezer and let the cauliflower freeze for 2 – 3 hours or until they have frozen solid.
Once the cauliflower has frozen solid, remove the tray from the freezer and transfer the frozen cauliflower to freezer bags. Divide the cauliflower into portion sizes and then transfer them to freezer-safe bags for convenience. When your freezer bags are filled, label and date them and load them into the freezer for long-term storage.
Your frozen cauliflower will easily last in your freezer for 12 – 18 months without a problem. You could even store them for longer than that. However, beyond that, you will notice the flavor gradually decline.
You can use your frozen cauliflower in all the recipes where you would otherwise be using fresh cauliflower. The best part about using frozen cauliflower is that you don’t even need to thaw it before use. Simply add it frozen to your dish and add a few minutes of cooking time to make up for not defrosting them beforehand.
If you do need to thaw the cauliflower, transfer them from the freezer to the fridge for a few hours before use. Another way is to steam the cauliflower quickly to thaw them. However, it may seem like a hassle for most when it isn’t needed.
Cauliflower is a vegetable that you will find at the grocery store all through the year. So you don’t need to worry about it being in season for freezing. When you do want to freeze cauliflower, make sure that the cauliflower heads you are buying for freezing are fresh. Fresh cauliflower will last for about 7 – 21 days, depending on how well you store it, so that is the window in which you need to freeze the cauliflower.
Properly frozen and stored cauliflower should not go bad in storage. However, there are a few things to look out for to check whether the frozen cauliflower is still safe to eat. Start with the appearance – if there are any traces of mold, discard that freezer bag immediately. If the cauliflower seems to be slimy, it needs to be tossed. The cauliflower needs to be discarded in case of an off odor or a vinegar-like sour stench. Remember that food safety cannot be taken lightly, and when you freeze food at home, it is your responsibility to make sure the food you are preparing is safe to consume. This is why you must label and date each food item you are storing in the freezer to know precisely how long it has been in there.
You can freeze cauliflower without blanching. However, the frozen product you end up with will be of a far inferior quality than it would have been had you blanched it. Blanching not only helps retain the color of produce but also helps in preserving its flavor and texture. Cauliflower that is frozen without blanching will often have a crumbly texture and lack flavor. That’s why spending a few extra minutes blanching and then freezing your cauliflower might be worth it.
Cauliflower is an excellent vegetable full of nutrients and vitamins, and flavor. If it is not already a part of your diet, you should start incorporating this delicious veggie in your meals to some extent. The options to use it are endless, from pizzas, sides, dips, and even as a whole meal, you can get many health benefits in a delicious dish.
Freezing this fantastic ingredient is a great way to always have some on hand. Freezing cauliflower also gives you an opportunity to meal prep and cut down your time in the kitchen on those busy weeknights. Give this freezing guide a try, and we are sure you will be freezing cauliflower for a long time to come.
If you have enjoyed this freezing guide, you might also enjoy some of our other freezing guides that you can find here.
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