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Real Food

Savor the flavors of everyday real food, fresh from the garden or stored on your pantry shelves.


Freezing Broccoli and Beans

Broccoli and beans are two vegetables that keep on giving and are simple to freeze.

 broccoli ready to pick

beans in the basket

They are relatively easy to grow and will continue to produce for many months. Beans are extremely prolific — they sometimes need to be picked every day. If you keep them harvested, they will keep sending out new beans until the frost. The same is true of broccoli, but this vegetable grows past the first few frosts.

Broccoli initially sends out one large, beautiful head. Be sure to cut this on an angle, because the plant is far from done and slicing it straight across can result in rain pooling and rotting the stem.

 brccoli cut on an angle

Broccoli will next send out two large heads, then four large-ish heads, and again and again each time with the heads getting smaller until you stop picking it and let it flower. Letting it flower after a few hard frosts gives the bees something to eat in lean times.

All vegetables start to use up their own nutrients to stay alive once picked. That is one reason that it is so important to grow your own or buy from local sources. If you only eat vegetables that come from far away, the nutrients will not be nearly as dense.

Broccoli is one of the worst offenders. According to Jo Robinson in Eating on the Wild Side (available in the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Store), “In order to preserve all the nutrients in broccoli, it must be chilled as soon as it is harvested, kept cool, and then eaten within 2 or 3 days.” The only way to accomplish this feat is to get it locally.

Freezing Broccoli

After picking the broccoli, wash it and cut it to your desired size. Place in the top of a steamer and steam for 3 minutes. Then cool it immediately in ice water.

 broccoli in ice water

If you place it next in a salad spinner, you will be able to get a lot of the extra moisture off of the broccoli.

 broccoli spun dry

Place strategically in a bag already marked with the year, insert a straw, close the top on the straw, suck out the extra air and finish closing the bag as you draw out the straw. Now, it is ready for the freezer and will keep for many months.

 ready for freezer

Freezing Beans

The procedure is very similar for beans. However, because they sit upon one another in the steamer, they need to be tossed a couple of times with tongs during the steaming process.

beans tossed with tongs 

Again, three minutes of steaming is good and they go into ice water to cool them down. Spin off the extra water.

 beans in spinner

They are now ready to be placed in their bag (or bags).

 beans in bag

If you don't grow these veggies yourself, check with your local farmer. You may be able to get a discount if you buy a large amount. That way, you will not only be saving money, but serving yourself and your family the most nutrient-dense food possible. Truly the best way to stay healthy.

Celeste Longacre and her husband, Bob, have lived sustainably for more than 35 years. They grow almost all of their vegetables for the year and preserve them by freezing, canning, drying and using a home -built root cellar. Celeste ferments much of the couple’s produce and makes her own sauerkraut, kimchee, and fruit and beet kvass. She is the author of Celeste’s Garden Delights and writes a gardening blog for The Old Farmer’s Almanac. For more information, visit Celeste’s website, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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