Do You Really Need To Blanch Leafy Greens Before Freezing?

Being told to finish your greens may be a quintessential part of growing up, but being grown is realizing that your greens can not only be incredibly nutritious but they can be absolutely delicious given the right hand, heat, and heart — and seasoning.

Leafy greens are any plant leaves that are consumed as vegetables, sometimes with shoots and stems, and they are always most appetizing when bushy, bright, and green. Some examples of well-known dinner-table-frequenting leafy greens include kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, arugula, and bok choy. Unfortunately, leafy greens are susceptible to wilting rather quickly, so many opt to freeze them to preserve their flavors and aesthetic for a bit longer.

Usually before freezing greens, you would blanch them. As The Spruce Eats explains, skipping this step will lead your greens to become discolored and mushy. Blanching itself is a cooking process; it involves cooking vegetables for a short amount of time in scalding hot water, then quickly removing them and placing them in ice cold water to halt the cooking process. According to The Daring Gourmet, blanching destroys the enzymes that can lead to spoilage, which helps preserve the taste, texture, and visual appeal of your delicate, leafy greens. Blanched greens can stay in the freezer for eight months to a year.

So is blanching a requirement to properly freeze leafy greens? To preserve them, especially their color, experts would say yes. This said, there is an alternative method that removes blanching from the equation.

Preserving leafy greens in the freezer, blanched or not

Blanching is definitely a quick, easy, and proven way to properly preserve your leafy greens for up to a year in the freezer, but according to one outlet, it's not the only way. Just cleaning your greens and storing them in the freezer is fine, although the greens will begin to lose color and taste rather quickly. Further, if you use this method, you'll need to take an additional step, one that replaces the blanching step.

According to Foods Guy, even if you don't blanch your leafy greens first, you can still safely store them in the freezer for up to nine months. In addition to blanching, the site recommends an alternative process, one that involves a "pre-freezing" stage. Basically, you will need to freeze your greens for a short time first.

The site recommends laying out your leafy greens individually on a baking sheet or some other flat surface and putting them in the freezer for two to three hours. After this short period of uncovered freezing, you can then put your greens into a freezer-safe container and then pop them back into the freezer for future use.

To defrost frozen leafy greens, blanched first or not, simply set them out for a couple hours to thaw or leave in the fridge overnight.