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Freezing your own cabbage is easy, and is an easy way to have your own healthy pesticide-free homegrown organic cabbage to use in the winter in cooked dishes. (Obviously, the freezing process makes the cabbage generally unsuitable for fresh use, as it won't be crisp, BUT it is fine for use in stir fry and other cooked dishes.)
Start with fresh cabbage - as fresh as you can get. Select freshly picked, solid heads. If there is a delay between harvesting and freezing, put it in the refrigerator or put ice on it.
I'm sure you can figure out how to rinse the cabbage in plain cold or lukewarm water.
Pull any coarse outer leaves from the heads. Cut into medium shreds or thin wedges, or just separate the heads into leaves.
Get the pot of boiling water ready (about 2/3 filled) and a LARGE bowl with ice and cold water.
All fruits and vegetables contain enzymes and bacteria that, over time, break down the destroy nutrients and change the color, flavor, and texture of food during frozen storage. cabbage requires a brief heat treatment, called blanching, in boiling water or steam, to destroy the enzymes before freezing. Blanching times for cabbage is 11/2 minutes. (which is 90 seconds) (the duration is tested to be just long enough to stop the action of the enzymes and kill the bacteria).
Begin counting the blanching time as soon as you place the cabbage in the boiling water. Cover the kettle and boil at a high temperature for the required length of time. You may use the same blanching water several times (up to 5). Be sure to add more hot water from the tap from time to time to keep the water level at the required height.
Cool cabbage immediately in ice water. Drain the cabbage thoroughly (this shouldn't take more than a minute).
After vegetables are blanched, cool them quickly to prevent overcooking. Plunge the cabbage into a large quantity of ice-cold water (I keep adding more ice to it). A good rule of thumb: Cool for the same amount of time as the blanch step. For instance, if you blanch cabbage for 1.5 minutes, then cool in ice water for 1.5 to 2 minutes.
I love the FoodSavers (see this page for more information) with their vacuum sealing! I am not paid by them, but these things really work. If you don't have one, Ziploc bags work, too, but it is hard to get as much air out of the bags. Remove the air to prevent drying and freezer burn. TIP: If you don't own a vacuum food sealer to freeze foods, place food in a Ziploc bags, zip the top shut 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 straw closed where inserted and finish pressing the bag closed as you remove straw. It works fairly well, but I'll stick to the Foodsaver, since the bags are microwaveable and much thicker than a Ziploc bag (even the Ziploc "freezer bags")
Pop them into the freezer, on the quick freeze shelf, if you have one!
When you take your cabbage out of the freezer,
how long do they take to cook?
Just the same as store-bought frozen cabbage: 3 to 5 minutes; just until hot and tender.
This document was adapted from the "Complete Guide to Home Canning,"
Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 539, USDA, revised 2006.
Reviewed May 2009.
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