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Freezing vegetables during lockdown

Dandenong Market’s fruit and vegetable traders know the benefits of preserving fresh, raw veggies, especially during Victoria’s second lockdown.

Freezing vegetables is a great way to minimise waste, maximise savings and allows access to seasonal produce for up to 12 months!

Most importantly, buying vegetables in bulk for freezing helps limit the time we spend out of the house shopping, helping to stop the spread of COVID-19.

So, which vegetables can I freeze? Don’t frozen veggies turn to mush? What’s the best way to use frozen vegetables?

Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve taken the frustration out of freezing with answers to these frequently asked questions.

Can I freeze my vegetables straight after buying?

Most, if not all vegetables need to be quickly blanched before freezing.

What is blanching and why is it important?

Blanching involves boiling raw vegetables then quickly popping them into cold water, ideally with a few ice cubes bobbing around. By doing this, you block enzymes from diminishing the colour, taste and texture of vegetables you plan to freeze.

Blanching also helps to remove dirt and any other nasties.

Lastly, boiling your veggies before freezing can wilt or soften them, making them easier to pack.

Blanching times are important to get right as under and over doing it can ruin the produce. We’ve got more information about specific vegetables below.

How do I blanch my vegetables and for how long?

1. Boil a large pot of water.

2. Organise a large bowl of iced water and a strainer.

3. Cut your vegetables evenly (diced or sliced) to ensure that they are cooked evenly.

4. Place the cut-up vegetables into boiling water and cook for the time listed below.

5. Once blanched for the recommended time, strain the water and put into iced water immediately to “shock” the vegetables.

6. Chill for the same amount of time as the vegetable was boiled.

7. Strain and remove any excess water. For leafy greens, squeeze until all water is removed (you can roll them in a tea towel).

8. Place in freezer bags or in ice cube trays for freezing.

Asparagus: small = two minutes, medium = three minutes, large = four minutes

Beans: three minutes

Broccoli: cut into small florets and blanch for three minutes

Carrots: cut carrots and blanch for two minutes

Cauliflower: cut into small florets and blanch for three minutes

Eggplant: four minutes

Leafy greens (kale and spinach): one to two minutes

Okra: two to three minutes

Peas: 1.5 minutes

How do I blanch tomatoes?

1. Cut an X into the top of the tomato.

2. Boil in groups of four for 30 – 60 seconds or until the skin splits.

3. Once the skin is split, move the tomato into the ice water and cool for 60 seconds

4. Use a paper towel to drain water from the tomato.

5. Use your fingers to peel the skin away from the tomato.

6. Store in a freezer bag.

How do I blanch corn?

1. Boil the whole cob for four minutes.

2. Remove and place in iced water.

3. Cool for four minutes.

4. Remove and cut kernels from the cob and store in freezer bags.

What about pumpkin and potato?

Pumpkin, potato varieties and winter squash all need to be fully cooked before freezing.

How long will my vegetables keep?

Different vegetables keep for different periods of time. Here’s a guide:

Asparagus: one year

Beans: one year

Broccoli: one year

Capsicum: three to four months

Carrots: one year

Cauliflower: one year

Corn: eight months

Leafy greens: eight months

Peas: eight months

Tomatoes: three to four months

What are some fun ways to use frozen vegetables?

Dandenong Market’s fruit and vegetable traders say that frozen veggies can be used in just about anything!

Mix them into stews, soups or casseroles, enjoy them in stir fries or just munch on some on their own.

Most frozen vegetables can be left frozen before cooking. However, our traders suggest that leafy greens and corn be thawed before using.

Our Market team loves smoothies! Check out this classic smoothie recipe using frozen spinach to help in bulking it up:

frozen vegetable smoothie

Ingredients:

Two cups frozen spinach

One cup frozen pineapple

One cup frozen mango

One banana, frozen chunks

One cup strawberries

One cup milk of choice

One teaspoon vanilla extract

Method:

Blend all ingredient in a blender until smooth.

Serve immediately.

The best thing about this recipe is that any extra portions can be kept in the freezer for up to 30 days – it’s all coming full circle!

Next time you shop at Dandenong Market we suggest checking out the bulk buy boxes from traders in the row along our Northern Car Park including Alexander Produce and S&G Fresh. They stock fresh, affordable Market produce and serve it with a smile.

Tag us in any yummy meals you’ve made with your own frozen veggies by using @dandenongmarket or #dandenongmarket

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