What do you do if you end up finding a tremendous deal on leafy greens or end up with a surplus from your garden? Well, one simple thing you can do is freeze them! Yes, that’s right – greens such as kale, collards, and spinach can be frozen.
I found several nice bunches of greens at Main and Vine recently – they had a few varieties of organic kale, plus rainbow chard, and spinach, all at very good prices, and I couldn’t resist.
Now there are two schools of thought when it comes to freezing greens. First, you can freeze them as-is, raw. This is going to be the easiest, quickest way to achieve your goal. The second way involves blanching them. This helps the greens last a bit longer in the freezer. As you’ll soon see, this method also helps reduce the space in the freezer your greens will take up.
For today’s post, I decided to show you how to blanch your greens to prep for freezing.
How to Freeze Greens
Start by chopping up your leaves and then giving them a very good rinse. In fact, you may wish to soak them. If you’re using organic greens as I am, you might notice a surprising number of bugs. (This is actually a good thing because it means you actually did get organic greens!)
I used my salad spinner to dry them off.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a few handfuls of leaves at a time. Your goal here isn’t to boil them to a pulp, but more expose them to the boiling water for a short period of time – say 30 seconds or so.
Using salad tongs or a slotted spoon, quickly move the greens to a bowl of ice water. This will halt the cooking process.
Squeeze the cooled greens out as much as you can to remove the excess water.
See that small, pint-sized freezer bag above? I fit TWO entire heads of kale in it! Isn’t it amazing how much it compresses after blanching?
After the kale, I went to work on some spinach and chard.
I told you things would get compact! Check out what four huge bunches of greens look like once they’re prepped for freezing!
All told, this process took me mere minutes – blanching and all. (Honestly what took me longer was taking the photos for this blog post!)
What to do with Frozen Greens
Now that you’ve got all these health-packed greens sitting in your freezer, it’s time to use them. I have couple easy ideas for you. First up, throw some in a smoothie.
I found some beautiful bunches of organic beets at Main & Vine so I had picked some up at the same time I bought my greens. So why not make a smoothie with all of that?
For this beet + greens smoothie, I used about 1/2 cup frozen cherries, 1/2 a banana, 1 tablespoon hemp seeds, 1/2 a large organic beet, 2 scoops of my favorite vanilla protein powder and then several small sections of the frozen greens. (I estimate I basically consumed half a head of kale in this smoothie!)
In case you’re wondering, the blanched greens did not make a noticeable difference in taste to the smoothie as compared to when I use raw greens.
My second idea is also super simple, plus it’s a great way to use up any additional excess produce you have laying around (or growing around!). The idea for this Mineral Broth comes from one of my very favorite cookbooks, Run Fast, Eat Slow (Amazon link).
Start with a pot full of scrubbed vegetables such as onions, garlic, carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, parsley, and celery. Season with fresh ground pepper, sea salt, and bay leaves. Now, add in some of your frozen greens. I used half a bag for this recipe (so roughly one frozen bunch of kale or chard). Cover with water, bring to boil, then down to simmer for about an hour and a half. Strain out the liquid and voila – you’ve got one absolutely healthful broth. You can drink it hot as is (kind of like a vegetarian spin on bone broth), or do what I do – use it in homemade soups. This broth also freezes beautifully.
So there you have it! The next time you find a fantastic deal on kale or find your garden over-run with chard, you’ll know exactly what to do.
Now it’s your turn: do you have alternate methods for freezing greens? What other recipe ideas do you have for using them up?