Shopping wisely for your groceries is the need of the hour but putting in effort to make sure the supplies are stored well to increase their shelf life is equally important. Food storage has not only been a survival skill but has also been an ancient art. It lets you make fewer trips to the grocery store and leads to less wastage of food too.  When it comes to perishables like vegetables, a freezer is your biggest advantage. However, there a few important steps that you need to know about prepping the perishables that will really help benefit the overall process and will guarantee a longer shelf-life.  To help you get started, we've got you a step by step guide to the process of freezing as well as a list of a few vegetables that work best with this technique. 

Step 1: Choose vegetables with a lesser moisture content

This means that vegetables with a high-water content like cucumbers, cabbage, mushrooms, lettuce etc will turn mushy and limp once thawed and lose their texture. They also won't be appropriate to use in salads. The vegetables that work best are broccoli, cauliflower, corn, peas, carrots, green beans, pumpkin, spinach, kale, chard and collards. Onions, capsicum, coloured peppers, celery and herbs work well too. Also, once you buy your veggies, the faster you start the process, the better it is. 

Step 2: Storage and packaging

Clean out your freezer and keep your containers ready. Make space for the containers you'll be storing your vegetables in. Choose containers that are air-tight and moisture-proof. Avoid usage of plastic. Instead, use good quality zip-lock pouches that are durable. If you do have a bigger freezer, sheet pans are the ideal way to store your vegetables. Now, make sure your vegetables are thoroughly washed and ready for the next step. You can also cut or slice them if required. 

Step 3: Blanching and cooling

Blanching is the process of boiling or steaming the vegetables in water until partially cooked and then immediately putting them into ice cold water (also known as an ice bath) before you freeze them. It's an essential step that helps retain the colour, texture and flavour of most vegetables. Remember, not to blanch them for too long either. According to the National Center For Home Food Preservation, "Blanching stops enzyme actions which can cause loss of flavor, color and texture. It cleanses the surface of dirt and organisms, brightens the color and helps prevent loss of vitamins. It also wilts or softens vegetables and makes them easier to pack." Make note, this process doesn't apply to all vegetables. For example, celery, onions, bell peppers etc do not need to be blanched. 

Step 4: Transfer to containers

After plunging the vegetables into the ice bath, drain them for two minutes and dab them with kitchen paper towels to absorb any excess water. Next, transfer into a container or onto a sheet pan (ideal for leafy vegetables). 

Step 5: Label the containers

The shelf-life of frozen vegetables are roughly for about 8 to 10 months. Therefore, it's important to note down the date on the container or packet so you're aware of the expiry. These veggies can be used in just about any dish you'd like. It's the perfect way to preserve them. All you'd have to do is defrost or thaw the packet before you use it.     
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