Cauliflower is a special vegetable in the garden and in the kitchen. It’s very delicious, nutrient-dense and versatile to use in many recipes. However, it’s not an easy vegetable to grow, resulting in being a more expensive choice. If you are lucky to grow some cauliflower or find it at the local farmers market, it’s worth to preserve it for the winter. Here are 2 ways to freeze cauliflower.
We enjoy cauliflower florets, preferably roasted, those are so beautiful and delicious all at the same time. We also like cauliflower in soup and cauliflower shredded, like rice. This is convenient because a cauliflower head offers both. There are some beautiful florets as well as those that aren’t as nice and of course the stem.
Since there are 2 good ways to use cauliflower, there are also 2 ways to freeze cauliflower.
Freezing cauliflower florets
For freezing cauliflower florets, you want to cut off all the nice about 1″ florets a head has. I find that bigger florets cut into smaller works very well. Since we will use the whole head, it’s okay to be picky about the size and shape. Find the nicest ones and cut them off.
Now wash all the florets with water. I change the water about 3 times making sure the florets are clean. If you have insects in the cauliflower then a salt bath might help to get rid of them.
Blanch the cauliflower heads in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Do not overcook. All you want is to kill the enzymes in the cauliflower so it maintains its flavor and texture longer.
Prepare a dish with cold water, add ice to make it even cooler. Now strain out the cauliflower florets into the cold water to stop the cooking process. Let cool for about 2 minutes and strain.
Layer the florets on a cooking sheet and freeze for a few hours. This will prevent the cauliflower florets to stick together. I do the same when freezing beets. It’s very convenient to be able to take out as many veggies as I need at the time.
Now transfer the florets into a freezer bag, label, and close the bags. They can freeze for several months.
Freezing cauliflower rice
Cauliflower rice is simply just shredded/chopped cauliflower. Since the pieces are so small, they do not need to be blanched. See also how we freeze shredded carrots.
It’s not just easier to freeze chopped cauliflower vs florets, it is also healthier.
Even if all you want to use cauliflower for is a creamy soup, consider freezing it chopped. Cauliflower is a cruciferous (cabbage-family) vegetable. Dr. Fuhrman teaches that chopping, chewing, blending, or juicing cruciferous vegetables is necessary to produce the anti-cancer ITCs, read more about it here.
Cut the cauliflower, or what’s left from the cauliflower, into about 1-2 inch pieces. Now wash them with water. I change the water about 3 times making sure it’s clean. If you have insects in the cauliflower a salt bath might help.
Using a food processor add up to a pound of cauliflower pieces and shred for a few seconds. The food processor we have is a 27 years old Brown Food Processor, still going strong. Do not overwork the cauliflower, you want to have cauliflower rice, not mash.
By the way, one pound cauliflower makes 4 cups cauliflower rice.
Fill a freezer bag, get the air out, label and freeze. Again, you do not need to blanch them. There are many ways to get the air out of the freezer bag. The easiest for me is to roll the bag, pushing all the air out while closing the bag. I also find that flat freezer bags take up less space in the freezer and it is easy to take out just a portion at the time, a win-win.
Using frozen cauliflower
Frozen vegetables are great in any recipe used in cooking or roasting. They are not suited for raw vegetables. Blanched frozen vegetables are precooked and will not need all the cooking time a raw vegetable would. They will only need 1-2 minutes to reheat in the steamer or microwave.
As for the shredded frozen veggies, they can be used in cooking just as fresh veggies. I do not notice any significant difference.
Hope this 2 ways to freeze cauliflower helps you to use the summer bounty from the garden or local farmers market, and also to eat healthier at the same time.