Separate the broccoli into even-sized florets, trimming any woody ends. I usually slice off an inch from the end of the broccoli trunk and then pull the florets apart by hand, using a knife when needed to separate them or chop them down to even-sized pieces.At the same time, peel the stem and chop it into pieces that are a similar width to your floret stems (and ½-inch thick).
Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water (lightly salted if preferred) to a boil.
Once boiling, carefully transfer the broccoli to the pan and allow it to cook for one minute for firmer results or between 2-3 minutes (depending on the size of the florets) for slightly more tender results. They should be vibrant green and firm.I usually blanch the broccoli for one minute when freezing it and between 2-3 if I plan to eat it from blanched (i.e., in a salad).
Use a slotted spoon to remove the broccoli from the pan and transfer it to an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Allow it to cool for 3-4 minutes.
Once cooled, pat the broccoli florets with a clean kitchen towel and then either use immediately OR freeze for later.
Alternative Method: Steam Blanching
You can steam the broccoli using a steaming insert in a large pan, a multi-tiered steaming pan, or a steaming basket.Bring a few inches of water to a boil in your pan of choice. Add the chopped broccoli florets/stems to the tool of choice, trying not to overlap/stack them too much. Then steam for 4-5 minutes.Then continue with the ice bath steps.
How to Freeze Fresh Broccoli?
Blanch, cool, and dry the broccoli following the steps above. Dry it well to avoid extra ice when freezing.Then, spread the broccoli across a large tray, ensuring they aren't touching, and flash freeze until solid.Finally, transfer to a freezer-safe container or bag, squeezing out all the excess air.
You can store blanched fresh broccoli in the fridge for 3-4 days after blanching OR in the freezer for up to 12 months. However, I recommend using it within 6 months for the best quality (in terms of flavor and texture).Refer to the blog post for how to cook broccoli from frozen and for more information!
Save any scraps: they can be added to a separate freezer bag of veggie scraps and eventually turned into vegetable stock!
Use enough water: ensure that the florets are entirely covered with water while blanching, or else the cooking will be uneven.
Whether to add salt: salting the boiling water will not only ever so slightly season the broccoli, but it actually helps the florets to preserve their flavor and texture further. However, feel free to omit it if preferred.
Have everything ready before starting: this entire process is very quick, so it’s best to have your chopping, blanching, and ice bath stations ready to go. Prepare the ice bath in advance and bring the pan of water to a boil while chopping the broccoli.
Blanch in batches is necessary: if you plan to blanch a large amount of broccoli, it's best to do so in smaller batches. The more broccoli you add to the saucepan, the more the temperature will drop and affect the cooking time. For the best results, add just enough for just over a single layer of broccoli in your pan. Then, as that batch rests in the ice bath, blanch the next batch (only taking 2-3 minutes each time!).
Check the blog post for more tips, how to cook from frozen, and answers to top FAQs!