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How to Freeze Green Beans, Sugar Snap Peas, and Broccoli

Deborah Neyens is an attorney, avid gardener, and cook who believes food should be sustainably grown, lovingly prepared, and joyfully eaten.

A bag of sugar snap peas ready for the freezer.

A bag of sugar snap peas ready for the freezer.

Gardeners, CSA members, and enthusiastic farmers' market shoppers may at times find they have more fresh produce than they can possibly eat. If this happens to you, don't let the surplus go to waste. Preserve your extra fresh vegetables by freezing them. Freezing green beans, sugar snap peas, broccoli, and other garden vegetables is a great way to preserve the vegetables' nutrients. Fill your deep freeze with bags of healthy frozen vegetables this summer and save money at the grocery store next winter.

Freezing vegetables is the simplest and quickest way of home preserving your garden surplus. The process that can be completed within an hour or two with equipment you already have on hand, and even more quickly if you have some of the special equipment we'll discuss below. This step-by-step guide on how to freeze vegetables tells you everything you need to know.

Step 1: Gather the equipment

You will need:

  • Ziploc freezer bags or vacuum sealing machine and bags
  • A colander and a large mixing bowl
  • 5- to 6-quart pot
  • Clean, dry dish towels
  • Permanent marker

You can freeze green beans, sugar snap peas, and broccoli in freezer bags that are readily available at any supermarket (get a Ziploc variety). If you plan to do a lot of freezing, it may be wise to invest in a vacuum sealing machine. These machines remove the air from the freezer bag through a suction process, which helps preserve the quality of the frozen food and its flavor after it's thawed and cooked.

You also will need a large colander and mixing bowl. The colander should fit into the mixing bowl. For this purpose, the base bowl and colander insert of a salad spinner work perfectly.

home-freezing-garden-vegetables

Step 2: Select and Prepare the Vegetables

Choose fresh vegetables that are at the peak of their flavor and texture, without bruises and imperfections. It's best to work in manageable batches of no more than two pounds at a time. Wash the vegetables in cold water and drain, then prepare as specified in the chart below.




VegetablePreparation

Beans, green

Remove ends and strings; leave whole or cut into 1-inch pieces.

Broccoli

Remove outer leaves and tough parts of stalk; cut into 1-inch pieces.

Peas, shelled

Remove peas from pod and discard pods.

Peas, sugar snap

Remove ends and strings; leave pods whole.

Step 3: Blanch the Vegetables

Blanching, or scalding the vegetables in boiling water, is an important step because it slows the spoiling process and helps to preserve the color, flavor, and texture of the vegetables.

To blanch fresh vegetables, first bring a 5- to 6-quart pot of water to a boil. As it nears a boil, fill a large mixing bowl (or base bowl of a salad spinner) with cold water and ice cubes to make an ice-water bath.

When the water comes to a rolling boil, add the vegetables and blanch for the amount of time indicated in the chart below. Immediately begin timing; don't wait for the water to return to a boil.

Drain the vegetables into a colander (or colander insert of a salad spinner) and immediately plunge the colander into the ice-water bath. Stir the vegetables to circulate the ice water and stop the cooking process. Leave the vegetables in the ice-water bath for the same amount of time they were in the boiling water, then drain.

VegetableBlanching time

Beans, green

2 minutes for pieces; 3 minutes for whole beans

Broccoli

3 minutes

Peas, shelled

1 1/2 minutes

Peas, sugar snap

1 1/2 minutes

 Prepare an ice-water bath before blanching.

Prepare an ice-water bath before blanching.

The bowl and colander insert of a salad spinner works well to cool vegetables after blanching.

The bowl and colander insert of a salad spinner works well to cool vegetables after blanching.

Step 4: Dry the Vegetables

If using the bowl and colander insert from a salad spinner, drain the water from the bowl and return the colander insert to the bowl, place the top on the salad spinner and spin to dry the vegetables. Otherwise, lay the vegetables out on a clean, dry kitchen towel and pat with a second towel to remove excess moisture. This helps to prevent ice crystals from forming on the vegetables during the freezing process.

Remove excess moisture before packing to prevent ice crystals from forming.

Remove excess moisture before packing to prevent ice crystals from forming.

Step 5: Package the Vegetables

Package the vegetables for freezing immediately after they are prepared. Do not season the vegetables before packaging and freezing.

Pack the vegetables in one-quart freezer bags, using 8–10 ounces of vegetables per bag. Gently push any air out of the bag before sealing. For best results, use a vacuum sealing machine according to the manufacturer's directions.

Packaging peas with a vacuum sealing machine.

Packaging peas with a vacuum sealing machine.

Step 6: Label and Freeze

Using a permanent marker, label each package with the contents and the date and place them in a single layer in the freezer so they freeze quickly, which helps preserve quality. After the packages are frozen solid, stack and store in a deep freeze at 0°F or colder. Use within one year of freezing.

Note: Vegetables begin to lose nutrients upon harvest. Freeze fresh vegetables within a few days of harvest to optimize their nutritional value, but remember that vitamins are lost during processing and further decline during storage.

© 2012 Deborah Neyens

Comments

Terry on August 06, 2017:

Can you freeze peas that are shucked and green beans clipped and cut fresh without blanching.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on November 19, 2016:

Hi Heather. Not sure where you went wrong. Did you use the ice water bath to stop the cooking process? I hope you have better luck this year!

Heather on July 23, 2016:

I did this last year with pea's, beans, broccoli, it all got recycled in to the compost pile this year :( everything was soft and had to chew and gross! we have increased the size of our garden to feed our family in the winter and i would like hear your thoughts on what i did wrong. ( i didn't use your site but the times were similar) Thanks

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on July 30, 2015:

Great hub Deborah on how to freeze fresh veggies. I might try this out next month. Great idea! Very useful and voted up!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on April 14, 2014:

Tomatoes are about the one thing I don't freeze, DDE. Instead, I make tomato sauce and can it, which is pretty labor intensive. You should write a how-to hub on freezing tomatoes!

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on April 09, 2014:

I do freeze vegetables but mostly tomatoes and really got to for the winter Your ideas are so helpful.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on February 28, 2014:

Good for you for attempting a garden, Jess! I hope you have better luck this year. It is great to be able to pull out a bag of homegrown green beans from the freezer in the middle of winter. I used to attempt to can them, because that's what my mom always did, but it's so much easier to freeze them (and they maintain more nutrients that way).

JessBraz from Canada on February 28, 2014:

Great hub! I'm definitely going to come back to this one again during summer gardening season. I planted a veggie garden last year. Unfortunately, most of the plants didn't do so well. :( It was my first time attempting to manage a veggie garden and I think I got a little carried away and went too big too fast. lol. I did manage to get a lot of tomatoes, though.. I don't even like tomatoes. lol. Figures that was the one thing that did so well (my fiancé thankfully likes tomatoes, so nothing went to waste)

I attempted to grow broccoli, but it never quite got big enough. Hopefully I'll do better this year. I always thought freezing broccoli would make it super mushy. I guess blanching is the key. :)

Voted up!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 07, 2014:

Thanks, lrc. Freezing vegetables is pretty easy and a great way to preserve your surplus. I hope you give it a try.

Linda Crist from Central Virginia on December 18, 2013:

What a terrific step-by-step hub! I had never thought about freezing broccoli so was excited to learn that it can be done. Your hub makes the process so easy that anyone can put those fresh veggies in the freezer. Great job! Voted up.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on February 05, 2013:

I know what you mean, vespawoolf. I used to can green beans but that is such work. Now I freeze them and the vacuum dealer makes it so easy. I hope you give it a try.

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on February 03, 2013:

I much prefer freezing over canning since it better preserves the texture and flavor. I've heard rave reviews for the vacuum sealer and the neat little packets sure would make for an organized freezer! Thanks for these helpful instructions.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 18, 2013:

Thanks, Sarah. I'm sure there is some scientific reason why blanching aids in the preservation of frozen food, but it really does work to preserve the color, texture, and flavor.

Sarah from USA on January 15, 2013:

This is useful, thanks! I never knew you needed to blanch the vegetables before freezing them :)

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on November 16, 2012:

Thanks for the comments, Julie, Mary, Thundermama, Steph, and ComfortB. Sorry I'm so late in responding, but I'm still getting caught up from being on vacation last week. Yes, definitely get those vacuum sealers on your Christmas lists! They are really great for freezing all sorts of things besides vegetables. How about all that leftover turkey you'll have next week (for those of you in the U.S.)? : )

Comfort Babatola from Bonaire, GA, USA on November 05, 2012:

Love these useful, simple steps to preserving veggies. Great pictures too. Thanks for sharing!

Voted up and useful.

Stephanie Marie Severson from Atlanta, GA on November 05, 2012:

Wow! What an awesome hub. Thanks for the info. I second that vacuum sealing machine idea @Thundermama.

Catherine Taylor from Canada on November 05, 2012:

What a super useful hub. Will definitely be doing this next year and thinking of putting a vacuum sealing machine on my Christmas list.

Mary Craig from New York on November 05, 2012:

Wow! I'm sorry I'm so late coming to THIS party! What great instructions for a very useful and tasteful treat! Nothing like fresh-frozen vegetables. Your directions and pictures are great. I'm with Jools, bookmark this for next year so we can all freeze those vegetables.

Voted up, useful, interesting and shared.

Jools Hogg from North-East UK on November 05, 2012:

Great advice Deb. I didn't yield enough veg to do this this last Summer but will definitely bookmark this for next year. I imagine you save a lot of money and you can't beat the taste of your own garden veg - 100% flavour!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on August 28, 2012:

Glad to hear it, Robert. I can't imagine going back to the pre-vacuum sealer days. The frozen food is much better quality when all the air is sucked out. Thanks for the comment and good luck with your freezing adventures.

Robert Craythorne from Okehampton, North Devon, UK on August 28, 2012:

Great hub! We've just invested in some raised vegetable planters and will start cropping next year. I like the idea of the vacuum packing - saves space in the freezer as well!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on August 12, 2012:

Freezing them would be perfect. Then you can enjoy them later, too. Just throw the frozen peas into your stir fry pan with the other veggies and they cook really fast. Thanks for the comment.

Pollyannalana from US on August 11, 2012:

So glad to find out about these snap peas. I have been coming across sale packs of them and they are so good I love them raw or barely stir fried. No I can fill my freezer. Thank you!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on July 25, 2012:

Thanks, Nell. Glad to do my part in teaching you new things. : )

Nell Rose from England on July 25, 2012:

This is such a good idea, and one I am sure will be really helpful. The blanching method is a great way to preserve the food, I learn something new every day! lol!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on July 24, 2012:

So did my mom (and still does). Back when I was a kid and had to help in the garden, I swore I would never have a garden when I was on my own. Funny how perspectives change. I've taken it a step further than my parents and added an "egg garden" (what I call my backyard hens). It's extreme gardening. Thanks for stopping by, aviannovice.

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on July 24, 2012:

My mother used to freeze and can her own.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on July 24, 2012:

It.is. Thanks for the follow. I'm off to check out your hubs now.

Mrs Jil Manning from Sussex, England on July 24, 2012:

pleasure. I wondered about other uses, that makes it a really attractive buy.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on July 24, 2012:

Hi Mrs. Manning. The Food Saver is such a time saver. I use it all through the year and not just for vegetables. It also works great for buying meat in bulk, like chicken breasts, and then freezing them in smaller portions. Thanks for stopping by and for the comment and vote.

Mrs Jil Manning from Sussex, England on July 24, 2012:

I've never thought of using a Food Saver, this has really caught my interest though. I only have a small veg garden which isn't doing too well, but I will show this to my daughter who is doing better than I am with her veg. Also great for when I've found some bargains at the market. I love the way you have laid this hub out so clearly, voted up!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on July 24, 2012:

Thanks, Cyndi. I used to freeze without the Food Saver, also, but it was hard to keep the food from getting ice crystals and freezer burn. The machine makes all the difference. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on July 24, 2012:

Very informative! I've frozen veggies in the past this way, but without the use of a vacuum. Hmm...I might have to try that. Those green beans look spectacular, by the way. :)

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on July 24, 2012:

Thanks, Gypsy Rose Lee. Yes, I wrote this hub not just for the home gardeners but for those who can't resist a good deal at the farmers' market. We never grow our own sweet corn, but whenever I buy it from the market I get extra and freeze a couple of bags. I actually still have some left from last year.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on July 24, 2012:

Thanks, Prairie Princess. Yes, nothing beats a garden. Between my own garden and the meat I buy from local farmers, the only thing I need to get at the grocery store this time of year is dairy. (And I keep joking how I'm going to get a back yard dairy cow to go along with my backyard hens, but I don't think that would fly with the homeowners association!) Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on July 24, 2012:

Thanks for this very informative and useful hub. I don't have anything growing in my garden this year. There is just too much else to do but we do have a market full of fresh farmer grown produce so I perhaps I'll follow your great instructions and freeze up some fresh veggies for the winter. Thanks for sharing and passing this on.

Sharilee Swaity from Canada on July 23, 2012:

Deborah, great hub! This makes me miss my Mother's garden. I don't have a garden right now but looking at this makes me want one. The food is so much better than anything you can buy in the store. Useful hub, voted up and more!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on July 23, 2012:

Thanks, Bill. You're another one I can always count on for a comment! : )

It's been a strange summer here. The drought doesn't seem to be as bad in Iowa as in other places like Indiana, but the rain has been very spotty and the crops are getting more stressed. Our subdivision just implemented watering restrictions last week but so far my garden is doing fine. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a nice soaking rain. My rain barrel, which I use for watering lots of my plants, is almost empty.

Good luck on the pea project and thanks for stopping by.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on July 23, 2012:

It is a wise investment, Arlene. You won't believe what a difference it makes in the quality of the frozen food. And thanks so much for reading and commenting. I can always count on you to be one of the first to check out my new hubs. I appreciate it, my friend.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 23, 2012:

Great hub Deb! We are getting ready to freeze some peas as I write this. How has the summer affected crops in Iowa? That's where you are, right?

Arlene V. Poma on July 23, 2012:

Deb, you have inspired me to invest in a vacuum sealing machine. Ziploc bags have never worked for me, so I am looking to take my freezing skills to the next level. LOL! Thank you for this Hub. I can't wait to put this information to work.