How to Freeze Greens to Save for Later Use

I know this time of year is heavy on the greens. Some of us just can’t get enough greens in our lives, and others are overloaded. 

Don’t worry it won’t be like this forever… just wait until summer squash starts. Ha!

Others still are smart. They know that greens that look like this baby kale taste delicious this time of year and want to preserve that for the times when greens are more sparse.

 

 

So how do you preserve your greens for later use?

The best, easiest, and simplest way to preserve greens is to freeze them.

Have you ever bought a package of frozen spinach at the grocery store? Who hasn’t, really? I grew up eating that stuff!

Well, actually freezing greens is super easy and a great way to preserve the nutrients much more effectively than canning. Plus they’re easy to thaw and use in cooked dishes and last in the freezer for 6+ months.

Here’s a basic formula you can use to freeze any type of greens you are overloaded on and want to put aside until a little later when greens are less abundant.

 

How to freeze greens to save for later use: A Step by Step Guide

1. Use fresh greens in good condition.

So if at the end of a week of CSA you’ve still got some greens, I recommend you just freezing them then rather than letting them start to look sad sitting in the fridge for too long. Fresher greens freeze better!

2. Wash your greens well.

Give them a good wash to remove any remaining field dirt.

3. Remove any tough stems (optional).

In the case of kale and sometimes large Swiss chard leaves, there can be tough inner mid-rib stems that need to be cut away and discarded before you use them. This doesn’t really apply for smaller sized Swiss chard, baby kale, bok choy, spinach, beet greens, etc.

4. Chop your greens.

Just what it says. Think about what size you’d like to use your greens in the thawed state, and chop to that size. Just keep in mind that the smaller you chop them the less time you'll need to blanch them.

5. Blanch your greens.

Heat a large pot of water to a boil.  Submerge your greens for a short amount of time usually 30 seconds (tender spinach)-3 minutes (big kale) depending on how tender your greens are. I find that a steamer basket makes this process really quick and simple. Blanching is important to help the greens keep better in the freezer. It stops the enzyme action in the raw greens which leads to better storage for you!

6. Quickly cool your greens.

Remove the greens from the hot water and quickly submerge them into a bowl of ice cold water. Keep them in the cold water until they are cool to the touch. I like to run my cold well water on them in a small stream to keep the water cold. Ice cubes also work well here.

7. Squeeze out the water from your greens.

Remove the greens from the water and gently squeeze excess water from the greens. You can let them drain in a colander for a few minutes to drain the excess water out as well.

8. Pack into ziplock bags.

Stuff your greens into ziplock bags that you label with the contents and the date! Don’t forget that part! I promise you won’t remember exactly how old they are or what they are even in a few days… Haha!

9. Squeeze out the air from the bags.

You can do this by pressing the air out by hand, which gets a lot of air out, but not all of it. To get almost all of the air out you could use a vacuum food sealer… or this cheap and easy trick using a straw:

  • Zip the top shut of the bag but leave enough space to insert the tip of a soda straw.
  • When straw is in place, remove air by sucking the air out.
  • To remove straw, press the straw closed where inserted and finish pressing the bag closed as you remove straw.

10. Freeze your greens for 6+ months.

Greens freeze well, especially because when you pull them out you have no expectation that they’ll be crispy (like green beans or something)! It is important that you keep them in a cold freezer (the colder it is the better they’ll keep) and that there is never a thaw cycle in the freezer. Also the more air you are able to squeeze out of your bags the better they will store.

 

So, what greens can I freeze?

Most greens! Think about what you would like to use frozen and freeze that. So it works great for kale, Swiss chard, beet greens, turnip greens, spinach, radish greens, collard greens, etc. But, probably not so much for lettuce.

 

So try it out! It’s not that hard and you’ll love having them in the fridge when you're missing the fresh ones from the garden!

Have you ever frozen greens before?  What have you used them for?  Reply and let me know so I can list it here!

 

BONUS:  5 Great ways to use your frozen greens

It will probably make it easier for you to want to freeze them if you know that there are some great ways to use them up!  Here a great list:

  1. In egg dishes like frittata, strata, quiche, etc. So good and SO easy! Here’s my primer on making frittata.
  2. Steam them and serve as a side dish with your meal. Then add salt pepper, butter, and vinegar. Or try a pinch of chili flakes and lemon juice. This is how we ate frozen greens all the time growing up.
  3. Quickly sauté them with onions and garlic to dress them up.
  4. Add them to soups!  Here's my primer on making creamy soups.
  5. Add them to stir-fries!   Grab our free gift below to get my primer on stir-fries!

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