Harvesting Broccoli and Cauliflower

It’s time to chop the broccoli!

Harvesting broccoli. This plant is ready for harvest.

I didn’t plan on harvesting broccoli and cauliflower yet, but due to more rain than we needed and temps in the upper 80’s to 90, it was time. Broccoli and cauliflower are cool weather crops. Normally, our spring is in the low to mid 70’s and much cooler at night. Even our nights have been in the upper 60’s to low 70’s. As a result, the broccoli and cauliflower were starting to bolt, or flower to produce seed. If they go too far, they become bitter and cauliflower actually becomes grainy. I caught them just in time. The crop was definitely not noteworthy, the heads were small and a few little yellow flowers were open. Did you know that a head of broccoli is just a big cluster of flower buds? Oh well, I’ll be planting more in late summer for a fall crop and hopefully the weather will cooperate.

Harvesting broccoli and cauliflower.

A short video for your viewing pleasure,

or, my first decent video 🙂

 

So, after harvesting broccoli and cauliflower I brought it all in to prepare it for freezing. First, I removed the large outer leaves and fed them to the compost bin (They were a bit tough and bitter.). I filled the sink with cold water and soaked them for 15 minutes to remove any critters. Guess what? No critters!  In fact there was hardly a leaf nibble to be seen. So much for the “Ew, organic vegetables are full of bugs!” myth.

Time to blanch. After a thorough washing, I cut up the heads and the smaller tender leaves. The large pot was filled half way with water and put on the stove. While I was waiting for it to come to a boil, I washed out the sink again and filled it with cold water and ice. This is necessary to cool down the vegetables quickly. When the water came to a boil, I dropped in two large handfuls of broccoli and set the timer for 3 minutes. Blanching is necessary for most vegetables you are freezing. It stops the enzymes from breaking down the vegetables and preserves their quality. When the timer went off, I plunged the veggies into the ice water and added another batch to the boiling water. As soon as the broccoli was cold, it was strained out and put aside. Then it’s just a matter of repeating the process until everything is blanched and chilled, adding more ice as needed.

Packaging for the freezer

Now, anyone who knows me, or has read my Facebook blog since last year, knows I vacuum seal everything I freeze. Today I took a hint from a YouTube video and grabbed a roll of paper towels to make the process go quicker. Up until today, I would bag up the vegetables and freeze them, then seal them and then return them to the freezer. The reason being that if you try to vacuum seal moist food, the machine will not only draw out air, but it will also draw out any liquids into the sealing area. This will prevent the machine from being able to form a seal. If you freeze the food first, there is no liquid to hamper the sealing process. Enter the paper towels.

 

Today I packaged the first eight of many meals to come from this year’s gardens, plus we had garden fresh broccoli and cauliflower for dinner tonight! I love my FoodSaver! We are still eating veggies I put up last summer and they taste just as fresh as they were when they went into the freezer. Absolutely no frost bite or freezer burn! I also buy meat in bulk when it is on a good sale and re-package into portions. Last year I made huge batches of stuffed peppers and breaded and fried eggplant. This year, who knows? If my cabbage does well I want to make a lot of stuffed cabbage. Hmmm, grilled eggplant and zucchini in January?

 

 

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