How To Freeze Vegetables

Garden-good vegetables all year round–so wonderfully tasty, and so easy to freeze! Save money on groceries by stocking up now on fresh produce–the quality and prices can’t be beat when vegetables are in season (better yet if you grow your own!).

Shelling Fresh Garden Peas
Shelling Fresh Garden Peas

You can freeze perfectly most vegetables which you’d cook before serving. Salad vegetables lose crispness when thawed; however, cabbage, celery, and peppers may be scalded and frozen for use in cooking–or unscalded green peppers frozen for limited storage.

You’ll find a chart below full of different kinds of vegetables you can freeze (with instructions).

Quick-frozen foods offer a number of advantages that are not found in foods prepared by other methods of preservation. More food value is retained. The frozen product resembles fresh food in color, flavor and texture. Less time is required for preparing food for freezing.


Prepare vegetables for freezing just as you would for the table. Wash thoroughly in cold running water; discard imperfect and overripe ones. Sort or grade, according to size, so that the contents of each package will be uniform.

Freeze as soon after picking as possible. Ideally, vegetables should go from the garden to the freezer within 2-3 hours; the longer they are allowed to stand, the more food value is lost. If you don’t have your own garden, buy early in the day and freeze immediately for top quality and nutritive value.

Blanch All Vegetables First

Blanching helps to preserve vitamins, brightens colors, keeps vegetables from becoming tough. Generally speaking, hot water scalding is preferred because of its ease and speed, however, if your water is high in soluble iron salts, you may want to steam scald some vegetables to prevent discoloration. Scald no more than 1-1 1/2 pounds at a time. Blanching time differs with each vegetable; the correct times are given below. If you live over 4,000 feet above sea level, add 1 minute to times given.

Water Blanching (Scalding)

In large kettle, bring to boil 1 gallon water for each 1-1 1/2 pounds of vegetable to be placed in kettle. Lower vegetables in wire basket, colander or cheesecloth into water. Cover. Start timing immediately; keep heat on high. Remove from water promptly at end of scalding time. Change water every third or fourth batch.

Steam Blanching (Scalding)

Bring to boil 2-3 inches water in large saucepan. Use rack (trivet) to keep vegetables out of water. Lower vegetables in wire basket, colander or cheesecloth onto rack. Cover. Start timing when steam comes freely around cover. Remove from rack immediately at end of scalding time. Not recommended for leafy vegetables.

Cool And Drain Quickly

Immediately after blanching, immerse vegetables in iced or cold running water. A general rule of thumb is to chill for the same length of time as the vegetable was scalded. Test by biting through one or two pieces; if not warm to the tongue, vegetables are cool enough to pack.

Keep the vegetables moving in the cold water so that all parts are cooled. Left too long in the water, the vegetables may become water-logged. If, however, they are not cooled completely, they will go sour.

Drain for a few minutes on clean towel or absorbent paper towels. Put into freezer with as little delay as possible.

Pack And Freeze Immediately

Select the size and type of container suitable for your family’s needs. If you choose a bag-in-box type, or use plastic bags without cartons (tip: store the lot in large paper bags for more protection), exclude as much air as possible by bringing top sides of bag together close down to the point of the packaged food; seal by twisting and folding tops and securing with cord, rubber bands or covered-wire bag closures (or zip lock freezer bags).

If you choose freezer containers, allow 1/2″ headroom at top for expansion–except for asparagus, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.

Put packaged food into freezer at once.

Quick Chart

Directions for scalding, cooling and packaging

Asparagus Wash and cut tips either into lengths to fit containers or into 1″ pieces. Tougher portions of the stalk may be cooked completely and pureed for soups. Avoid iron utensils; they may discolor the stalks

Small Stalks–Water Scald: 3 min. Steam Scald: 4 min.
Larger Stalks–Water Scald: 4 min. Steam Scald: 5 min.

(Green, Yellow & Waxed)
Wash and cut into lengths 1″ long, or slice lengthwise, French style. Discard small, immature, thin pods and all bruised and discolored beans. Avoid iron utensils; they may discolor beans.

Water Scald: 3 min. Steam Scald: 4 min.

Shell and scald according to size; the large Fordhook type requires maximum time, medium sizes 1 minute less.

Water Scald: 1 1/2 – 3 1/2 min. Steam Scald: 2 1/2- 4 1/2 min.

Beets Select small, tender beets. Cut off tops. Cook until tender, cool, then remove skins, slice or dice larger beets and pack.
Broccoli Wash and trim off outer leaves and imperfect stalks. Immerse 1/2 hour in brine (1/4 cup salt to 1 quart water); rinse thoroughly. Split lengthwise so that heads are about 1″ in diameter. Peel less tender stalks.

Water Scald: 4 min. Steam Scald: 5 min.

Brussels Sprouts Immerse 1/2 hour in brine (1/4 cup salt to 1 quart water). Rinse thoroughly. Scald according to size; large heads require maximum time, medium sizes 1 minute less.

Water Scald: 3-5 min. Steam Scald: 4-6 min.

Cabbage Remove outer leaves from head of cabbage and cut into thin wedges. Blanch then plunge into cold water and drain. To be used in cooked dishes only.

Water Scald: 3 minutes.

Carrots Wash and scrape. Slice or dice into 1/4 inch pieces. Very small carrots may be left whole if scalded for 5 min.

Water Scald: 3 min. Steam Scald: 4 min.

Cauliflower Trim off leaves and break head into flowerettes no larger than 1″ across. Immerse for 1/2 hour in brine (1/4 cup salt to 1 quart water). Rinse.

Water Scald: 3 min. Steam Scald: 4 min.

Celery Select only crisp stalks of celery for freezing, wash & chop into 1″ pieces. Blanch then plunge into cold water. Drain well and package. To be used in cooked dishes only.

Water Scald: 3 minutes.

Corn On Cob Use only small and medium-sized ears; remove husk and silk carefully. Chill for 15 min. in cold water after scalding to insure proper cooling.

Water Scald: Midget-7 min., Small-8 min., Medium-10 min.

(Whole kernel, Cream style)
Cut kernels from cob after scalding, cutting close to cob. For cream-style corn, cut corn off cob at about center of kernel and scrape with back of knife.

Water Scald: 4 1/2 min. Steam Scald: 5 1/2 min.

Cucumbers Slice wafer thin and scald in steam about 20 seconds.
Egg Plant Peel and slice about 1/3″ thick. As you slice, drop pieces immediately into cold water containing 1/4 cup salt per gallon to prevent discoloration. For easy separation of slices after freezing, package with 2 pieces of freezer paper between slices.

Water Scald: 4 1/2 min. Steam Scald: 5 min.

(Spinach, kale, chard, beet and mustard greens)
Wash throughly, discard thick stems. Scald, drain thoroughly to remove as much water from leaves as possible.

Water Scald (2 min.): Spinach, Kale, Beet & Mustard Greens
Water Scald (3 min.): Chard and Collards

Kohlrabi Choose young, tender kohlrabi. Cut off tops, peel and dice into 1/2″ cubes.

Water Scald: 2 1/2 min. Steam Scald: 3 1/2 min.

Mushrooms Wash thoroughly. Leave button-sized mushrooms whole, slice large ones in 3 or 4 pieces. To prevent discoloration before scalding dip in lemon-water (3 tsp. to pint water) or weak citric acid solution (1/2 tsp. citric acid per pint water.) Mushrooms almost completely cooked in butter or other fat, or cooked in combination dishes, freeze well.

Steam Scald: Whole, 5 min.; Buttons & Quarters, 3 1/2 min.

Okra Wash and rinse thoroughly. Cut off stem end carefully without cutting into seed pod which will allow juice to leak out. Scald large pods 1 minute longer than small ones.

Water Scald: 3-4 min. Steam Scald: 4-5 min.

Parsnips Wash. Peel and slice lengthwise into 1/4″ strips or crosswise. If core seems woody, remove with point of sharp vegetable knife.

Water Scald: 3 min. Steam Scald: 4 min.

(Green & Blackeyed)
Avoid Alaska and other starchy types of peas, as well as over-mature peas. Shell, sort and wash.

Water Scald: 2 min. Steam Scald: 3 min.

Bake in oven until three-fourths done. Cool, peel and slice. Dip slices in 1 part lemon juice diluted with 8 parts water; drain, roll in sugar. Pack and freeze. Or you may puree the completely cooked product–add one pound sugar for each 10 pounds sweet potatoes–pack and freeze. Prepared sweet potato dishes may be frozen.
Potatoes may be diced, scalded in water 4 min., then frozen.
Pumpkin Follow recommendations for winter squash.
Sauerkraut Freezes very satisfactorily. Simply pack and freeze.
Squash Summer squash: Wash, peel and cut into 1/2″ slices or cubes.

Water Scald: 3 min. Steam Scald: 4 min.

Winter squash: Was and cut or break into fairly uniform pieces, remove seeds. Bake in oven at 350° F. or steam until tender. When cool, scoop from rind and puree. Pack and freeze.

Rutabagas & Turnips Cut off tops, wash, peel and dice or slice into 1/2″ pieces.

Water Scald: 3 min. Steam Scald: 4 min.

Tomatoes Select firm, ripe & deep red tomatoes. Wash then blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove and peel. To be used in cooked dishes only, tomatoes will not be solid. Also a tip from Norma: Whole tomatoes can be washed and frozen in containers or plastic bags. When you are ready to use simply thaw and the skin will slip right off and they are ready to be used in cooking (from 15 Kitchen Tip Quickies). Can also freeze as stewed tomatoes (using your favorite recipe) or as tomato juice: Quarter and core tomatoes. Place in covered pan, crushing slightly to cover bottom of pan with juice. Heat rapidly to just below boiling. Put through food press and cool quickly by setting pan in iced water. Add 1 tsp. salt per quart of juice. Pack and seal tightly.

Do Not Thaw Before Cooking

Most vegetables are best when taken directly from the freezer and cooked without previous thawing. The exceptions to this rule are corn on the cob, beets, pumpkin, winter squash and sweet potatoes. Thaw these in their unopened freezer wrappings for 2-3 hours before cooking.

Freezing batches of fruit when it’s in season is just as easy as freezing vegetables and a great money-saver too, you’ll find a helpful guide here: How To Freeze Fruit.

Sources: How To Freeze Foods, How To Make The Most Of Your Freezer & Home Canning Guide (Vintage booklets)

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    • Lenetta @ Nettacow

    I linked to this on my website – I’m big on freezing vegetables since I’m still too scared to try canning. :>) This might be the year, though!

    • Paula Cash

    Lenetta, I have cherry, and other tiny tomatoes green. Took off bushes and disposed of the bushes. Can I freeze them? I hate to throw them away. Thanks so much for your help.

      • dj

      Paula last year i had small green tomatoes, and i made green tomatoe pickles. they are good when it is cold outside. go on internet and get recipe.

    • Carol

    How do you freeze squash for frying

      • karen

      I slice my squash like i am going to fry and put on freezer bags or i will slice them and put my breading on them and place on cookie sheet and wrap in cling paper and freeze then after frozen put in bags,

    • Janice

    I have spent more time than I cared to in trying to find an answer to my particular question. I want to freeze bell peppers, zuchinni and summer squash. But I’m confused as to what is the best way to prepare them ahead of time so that when I am ready to eat them, they will remain al dente. I want them to still be rather crispy so that when I get ready to sautee them, they will not be mushy but remain crispy. Will blanching them or steaming them, then cooling them in ice cold water accomplish this? Thanks for your prompt reply as I have veggies waitng to be frozen.

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