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Microwave Blanching for the Freezer, a Three-Batch Process

 

For the first time ever, we have enough snow peas and sugar snap peas to freeze.  Now, before freezing most vegetables, you have to blanch them to inactivate the enzymes that will cause them to lose their quality.

 

The time-honored method is to pick huge amounts of vegetables, blanch them in huge pans of boiling water, cool them in huge quantities of ice cold water, and then quickly pack them in bags and store them in freezer.  This method is efficient and effective, but it takes a lot of energy.  I’m not talking only electrical energy, but specifically human energy.

  

I do not have a lot of energy to spare, so I do small amounts at a time and use the microwave to blanch my vegetables.  This means I can pick a small amount of snow  or sugar snap peas (2 gallons, this time), wash them, remove the strings (actually Miss 11 year old did that this time), and still have stamina left to do the blanching and packing.

 

This is how I microwave blanched my snow peas using a three-batch process.  A similar method work for most vegetables. (It sounds a bit confusing at first, but hang in there since it is actually quite simple.)

 

1)      Put a small amount, about 1-2 cups, of the peas in a glass bowl with about 2 T of water.

2)      Heat it in my 1100 watt microwave for a minute and a half. (*see note below)

3)      Pour the peas and water into a deep-fryer basket set into a second glass bowl to catch the blanching water, and immediately lift out the basket of peas and put it in a huge container of ice cold water set in the sink. 

4)      Leave it to cool thoroughly.

5)      Repeat 1 and 2 with the next batch of peas.

6)      As soon as the second batch of peas is microwaving, pour more cold water onto the basket from step 3, or just swish the basket in the cold water,  to speed up the cooling.

7)      When the microwave timer rings, dump the cooled peas onto a plate, put the basket back into the second glass bowl, and apply step 3 and 4 to the second batch.

8)      Apply step 5 to the third batch of peas.

9)      Pack the first batch (the cooled ones) from step 7 into a freezer bag.

10)  Continue with steps 6 and 7 for the second batch.

11)  Just keep on going, managing 3 batches at a time.

 

There!  It sounds confusing and was certainly complicated to write up, but it is simple once you get started.  It is also the quickest way to do this.  If you want to blanch only one batch at a time, do steps 1-4, 6b, and 9.  After you get a bit of experience doing single batches, the three-batch process will make sense.

   

*Note for number 2:  The exact time depends on the microwave’s power.  Microwave until the vegetables have just turned bright.  Be very careful not to actually cook them.

 

Even though I only blanch 1-2 cups at a time, I pack several batches into one freezer bag until there is enough for a meal.

 

Now, the internet abounds with advice, good and badabout blanching vegetables.  Recent research seems to indicate that proper microwave blanching retains more nutrients than water blanching. Crucial factors seem to be quantity, timing, and microwave wattage. 

 

 If you are not careful about the timing and if you try to process batches that are too large (as recommended here, for example) you will probably get inferior frozen vegetables.  This blanching guide  has microwave times that are two times too long for our microwave, and it recommends more water than necessary, but it gives a good overview table for microwave blanching many different vegetables.

  

Although I do not know whether or not the microwave method saves energy, I know it suits my own limited energy supply.  In fact, microwave blanching makes it possible for me to freeze food for my family, something that would not have been possible if I attempted to use conventional water blanching. 

 

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7 Comments

  1. Canadagirl says:

    I am so glad you found a way that works for you. I don't own a microwave so the traditional way is for me. I love that you got your dc helping you. Wahoo ! I am back to blogging I think now. Life might just slow down a bit now.

    Blessings and ((HUGS))

    In Him<><

    -Mary

  2. thefamilytogether says:

    I'd read a few things before about microwave blanching, but I was always afraid to try it, because I really can't afford to "ruin" many of our veggies. But this sounds like something reasonable to try, and something not even I could mess up. (It helps that we have the same wattage microwave!) I'm going to print it out and stick on our refrigerator.

  3. AnnieKate says:

    Canada Girl, I'm glad your life is slowing down so that you can blog a bit more…with a few breaks for freezing veggies, right?

    Dear familytogether, I don't think you'll ruin any veggies as long as you remember these few guidelines: small batches, short blanching times, and quick cooling. I'm honored that you'll put the post up on your fridge! :)

    Blessings,

    Annie Kate

  4. solidrock says:

    Wow this is great advise! I never knew that you could use the microwave. What a time saver. I like how you posted the good and bad advise.

  5. AnnieKate says:

    Thank you!

    I'm one of these undecided people, always looking at both the bad and good side of things, before I make a decision. I figured I would just pass on the info so people could make their own decisions.

    Mind you, I've used microwave blanching of other veggies for several years, so I stand firmly behind the concept.

    Annie Kate

  6. Anonymous says:

    This is fabulous, I didn't know you could blanch in the microwave!

    -mub

    http://misadventuresofmub.blogspot.com

  7. Christine says:

    My snap and snow peas decided to all be ready to pick during the heat wave here over the last week. The idea of a pot of boiling water was enough to make me faint (which I almost did picking the peas in 30C with a humidex closer to 40). I was really happy to find your instructions for using the microwave and it worked great!!
    Thanks for sharing this.

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