Can you freeze canned vegetables? Yes, you can. All you need is to properly store these vegetables before tucking it in the freezer.
Canned vegetables, especially the leftover ones, are a waste to throw away. With food sources getting limited through the years, learning how to preserve food is becoming a necessity. Thankfully, even without sophisticated machinery, this can be easily done at home.
How to Freeze Canned Vegetables in 5 Steps
1. Prepare the necessary materials
In this activity, you would need a saucepan, wire basket, large bowl, colander, ice cubes, and freezer bags. The sizes vary depending on the amount of vegetables that you will freeze and store.
2. Blanch the vegetables
Fill the saucepan with water (about half-full, or again, depending on the amount of canned veggies) and boil the liquid. While waiting, open the canned vegetables and transfer its contents to the wire basket. You can use a strainer if this is not available as long as the holes are small enough to filter only the liquid out.
If the canned vegetable is submerged in salt or water solution, drain them in the sink. Or better yet, you can set aside the solution and use it for other dishes since this liquid contains water-soluble vitamins and minerals from the vegetables; specifically the B-vitamins. These vitamins help in boosting the immune system and providing the necessary compounds that aid in growth and development.
Once the water is boiled (you would know it is if the water is vigorously moving around the saucepan, forming waves), place the wire basket on top and submerge the vegetables completely. This is done to ensure that the enzymes that cause the vegetables to rot would be destroyed. These enzymes also remove the nutrients from them, making the food less nutritious than it actually is.
Boil the vegetables for about two minutes. Shake the wire basket once in a while to ensure that all vegetables are exposed to the boiling water.
3. Submerge the vegetables into ice water
While blanching the vegetables, put the ice cubes in the large bowl then add cold water. Mix them until the cold temperature is well distributed around the bowl.
After heating, remove the wire basket filled with vegetables, draining the excess water for a few seconds, and immediately submerge it into the ice water. Shake the wire basket to ensure that the food is completely covered.
This is done to help in further removing the enzymes that are resistant to heat. By putting the food in ice water immediately after boiling it, these enzymes would not have the time to adjust to the change in environment which leads to them deteriorating.
4. Drain the vegetables
Once the vegetables are cold to your touch, remove them from the ice water and drain for about five minutes. Make sure that no excess water remains, as this moisture can become a breeding ground for cold-resistant bacteria.
These bacteria may come from the exposure the vegetables got when it was removed from the can. It can also come from the micro flora of bacteria on your hands that got transferred when you touched them, or the bacteria and spores sitting on your saucepan and other utensils that you used for this activity.
5. Prepare the freezer bag
This would take less time. Submerge the freezer bag for a few seconds in the ice water, and then shake it to remove the excess liquid. Then, transfer the vegetables inside the bag. Zip it or secure the lid, making sure that no excess air enters the bag.
A good way to keep air out is to use a Ziploc bag and a straw. First, you insert the straw inside the bag, its other end reaching outside the zipper. Zip the bag until it reaches the straw. Then, slowly and gently, remove the straw from the bag. The straw collects the remaining oxygen inside and expels them as it is removed. Finally, place the bag in the freezer.
Although canned vegetables spell convenience and easy-to-cook meals for the family, nothing beats the fresh vegetables bought from the local farm store or picked from the garden.
However, unforeseen circumstances may prevent you from accessing fresh vegetables—or any food for that matter—so having food stocked in preparation can really help you survive through different emergencies that might befall you.
Remember, it pays to think ahead!