Cauliflower is low in calories and highly nutritious. It’s a nutrient-dense vegetable packed with vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants. This bouquet-shaped vegetable is often consumed as a substitute for high-calorie foods. Riced cauliflower, anyone?
If you are incorporating cauliflower into your regular diet, preparing the vegetable is time-consuming and quite tedious. Can you prepare in a big batch and freeze for later use?
Perhaps, you bought too many cauliflowers. Fearing that they might go bad immediately, you are wondering if freezing raw cauliflower is a good option.
Yes, you can freeze cauliflower! Freezing is easy, and anybody can do it. But, you need to freeze vegetables properly to maintain its quality and prolong the shelf life.
In this article, we share practical tips on freezing cauliflower and other topics around it. Sounds like what you’re looking for? Keep reading!
How To Freeze Cauliflower
Cauliflower is one of those vegetables that doesn’t last very long in the fridge. It only takes a few days to turn fresh, firm cauliflower into a wilted, limp one.
If you need more time to cook this vegetable, freezing is undoubtedly your best option.
Keep in mind that freezing raw vegetables is not recommended. Instead, you should cook or blanch it before freezing.
Raw vegetables contain an enzyme that destroys the texture, color, and flavor. This enzyme can be inactivated by cooking or blanching. Therefore, if you want to freeze vegetables for the long term, you shouldn’t skip this step. (*)
Moreover, blanching also helps to soften some vegetables. It makes them easier to pack, such as in cauliflower, asparagus, and broccoli. (*)
The freezing procedure is relatively similar to freezing other vegetables, like broccoli, cabbage, or kale.
Follow the step-to-step guide below to freeze cauliflower properly.
1. Selecting the right cauliflower
Let’s start off with choosing the best cauliflowers to freeze. Pick a fresh, firm, and dense cauliflower. It should be free from blemishes, dark spots, or molds.
2. Washing and cutting the florets
Remove the leaves and cut cauliflower in half through the stem end. From here, you can see that the florets are attached to the core stem. Next, cut the florets from the core into smaller pieces. You should not freeze a whole cauliflower head.
When cut into small florets, it is easier to inspect any spoiled part, grits, or unwanted caterpillar and other tiny bugs trapped inside the florets.
Soak the cut florets in a bowl of water (or salty water) for at least 30 minutes to get rid of those grit and bugs. After soaking, rinse them in cold water and drain them before blanching.
3. Blanching cauliflower florets
Prepare two large pots to blanch cauliflower. Fill one with water and bring to a boil and the other one with ice and cold water.
Once the water is boiling, cook the cut florets for 3 minutes. Make sure all the florets are submerged in the boiling water. Instead of overcrowding the pot, do this step repeatedly if you freeze a big batch. (*)
Use a timer to avoid over- or undercooked florets. After the boiling step is done, remove the florets quickly and let them cool down rapidly in the ice bath.
Next, drain them in a colander and gently shake it to remove excess moisture. Use a kitchen towel, if necessary.
4. Flash-freezing cauliflower
This step is optional but works wonderfully to prevent the florets from sticking to each other while freezing. As a result, you’ll end up with a big lump of frozen florets. They tend to be mushy and flavorless.
Divide the prepped cauliflower into an individual serving size. Adjust the amount to what you need for each serving. This way, it is handy for thawing.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the prepped florets evenly in a single layer. Pop them into the freezer for a few hours until frozen solid.
5. Freezing for long term
Take the frozen florets and pack them in a freezer-safe container or bag. Squeeze as much air as possible from the bag.
Seal tightly and label with a freezing date and serving size. Finally, it’s time to put the packages into the freezer.
Frozen foods need to be continuously kept at 0 °F (−18 °C) or lower. Therefore, it is advised to check your freezer temperature and set it to the appropriate temperatures above.
How To Use Frozen Cauliflower
Pre-cooked frozen cauliflower is very convenient to work with. You can use both while frozen or after thawing. Here are some ideas to use up your frozen cauliflower supply:
- make into a delicious soup, stew, and curry;
- use for cauliflower fried rice and stir-fries;
- baked dishes (roasted cauliflower, cauliflower gratin, cheesy cauliflower casserole);
- simple steamed cauliflower; and
- creamy mashed cauliflower.
How To Defrost Frozen Cauliflower
You can slowly defrost frozen cauliflower in the refrigerator. Depending on the quantity, it may take hours. For a much speedy process, microwave thawing is your best option. Be careful not to overheat it.
When preparing for a cooked dish, thawing might be unnecessary. Toss frozen florets right into the pan and let them thaw while cooking.
How Long Can You Freeze Cauliflower?
Cauliflower only stays fresh for 3 to 5 days when kept refrigerated. Luckily, appropriately frozen cauliflower can maintain its quality for 10 to 12 months after freezing. Such a significant improvement, right?
After this time, frozen cauliflower is likely safe to consume. However, you should expect a decrease in color, texture, or flavor.
If you skip the blanching step, use frozen cauliflower within 1 to 2 months.
Yes, you can freeze dishes prepared with cauliflower, such as roasted cauliflower, riced cauliflower, cauliflower cheese, etc. You can treat them the same way as other leftovers. Transfer them into a freezer-safe container, seal tightly, and freeze for later use.
Cauliflower leaves are considered as waste and often discarded. Surprisingly, some people find the leaves edible and pretty tasty (particularly roasted cauliflower leaves). If you want to freeze the leaves, you can follow similar steps for freezing cauliflower florets.
Yes, you can, but blanching is highly recommended for long term storage. Blanching inactivates enzymes that are present in raw vegetables. As a result, when blanched vegetables are frozen, they can maintain their texture, color, and flavor in a much longer period than unblanched ones. Blanching is also useful to kill harmful bacteria and soften the texture of raw cauliflower.
Raw cauliflower has a limited shelf life in the fridge. Freezing cauliflower significantly preserves its shelf life up to a year!
Don’t skip blanching the vegetable if you want to keep it frozen for the long term. Otherwise, it suffers from textural, color, and flavor loss.
Freezing cauliflower is another kitchen hack you should try. It’s a great way to salvage your supply and prevent food waste. Plus, frozen cauliflower is easy to incorporate into various delicious dishes. You’d be surprised how versatile it is!
Up next: How to freeze cabbage