June 17, 2012

Freezing Greens

Spring greens are wonderful!  It's wonderful to finally, after a long winter, be able to go out the garden and harvest some spinach for a fresh salad.  Plus, greens are easy to grow.

I usually end up growing a lot of greens - way more than I could eat fresh.  So, I freeze the extras.  Freezing greens is really easy.  All you need is a large pot, a wire basket that fits into the large pot, water and ice, a timer and zip lock freezer bags.  Here are the steps:

1.  Start with freshly picked greens - kale and spinach work great.

2.  Wash and dry.  A salad spinner is easy and fast.  Or pat dry between a few layers of paper towels.

3.  Trim and chop.  For kale, you need to discard the middle, thick vein.  For spinach, just discard the stems.  Chop into bite-sized pieces.

Here is a picture of my kale (on the left) and spinach (on the right) ready to go.  The kale is in the wire basket that fits into my large soup pot.

4.  Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Depending on how big your pot is you may want to start this step earlier so the water can come to boil while you are chopping.

5.  Fill the kitchen sink with cold water.  Add one tray of ice cubes.  Have more trays of ice cubes ready.

6.  When the water is boiling, plunge the basket full of chopped greens in.  The greens will float.  You'll want to use a spoon to help push the greens in to the water.

7.  Let the greens boil for 2-3 minutes.  I do 3 minutes for kale and 2 minutes for spinach.

8.  When the time goes off, plunge the basket into the sink full of cold water.  Add more ice.

9.  Set the timer again for the same amount of time as you boiled - 3 minutes for kale, 2 minutes for spinach. (I move the basket around a bit so the colder water gets in and around the greens and stops the cooking process.)

10.  Remove the basket to the other side of the sink to drain a little.  You can squeeze some of the water out too.

11.  Pack into freezer bags.  Try to get as much air out of the bags as you can before sealing and putting in the freezer.

Repeat :-)  You can use the same water for a few rounds.  I did four rounds today - 1 with kale and 3 with spinach.  If I had more, I would have discarded the water and started fresh.  Always more ice between rounds.  Also, keep in mind that spinach really decreases in size when heated.  8-10 cups fresh spinach will become 1-2 cups cooked.  Enjoy!

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