From kale to spinach to collard greens and more, your diet most likely consists of a number of various greens. If it doesn’t, you just might be missing out!
Did you know that it is recommended to have a minimum of 2-3 cups of vegetables per day, depending on whether you are male or female? This recommendation is based on basic nutrition needs. In addition, if you are physically active in any way, you should actually have more.
Eating various greens is a great way to get your vegetables throughout the day. You could potentially get several greens in a fresh salad. Greens, particularly dark and leafy greens, are some of the highest recommended vegetables to include in your diet – for a number of reasons.
Can you freeze greens fresh or does it require blanching in order to freeze them? The recommended process to freeze greens is to blanch them first. However, it is not required. You can freeze your fresh greens and other vegetables without freezing them if you like. The best way to freeze greens without blanching is to “pre-freeze” your greens before fully freezing them.
We’ve put together a guide that discusses various aspects of greens, including how to freeze them. We’ve included information for freezing without blanching as well as basic information on blanching to freeze as well.
You might determine that you want to go ahead and blanch them, but don’t worry, there are options that work just fine if you want to proceed without blanching. After all, isn’t that why we are here?
The one thing you’ll want though is a quality double-sealed freezer bag like these from Amazon.
Keep reading to learn everything you should know about freezing your greens, and then some.
A Guide to Greens and How to Freeze Them
There are a number of different vegetables that qualify as greens. You might be familiar with collard greens or leafy greens, but the term greens actually encompass these items and more.
Let’s start at the top and cover what might be included in the term “greens”.
- Collard greens
- Beet greens
- Romaine lettuce
- Swiss chard
- Turnip greens
- Bok choy
You might recognize many of these greens as leafy-type vegetables that are most commonly used in salads. While that might be where you know them best, they can be used for many other things as well. Nearly all of these can be cooked and served as part of warm dishes as well. Although some of them don’t cook well and work best cold or fresh.
What Makes Greens So Great?
Greens are just another vegetable, right? What makes them so great?
Greens are super dense in nutrition. Yes, they are just another vegetable but ultimately, these nutrient-rich vegetables provide superior nutrition in comparison to many other vegetables.
From most greens, you can expect to find excellent sources of calcium, folate, and loads of vitamins like D, C, A, and even B. In addition to these nutrients that are in almost all of the listed greens above, some of the greens have additional minerals like manganese, potassium, etc. In many cases, these greens can be a better source even then the very best multi-vitamin on Amazon.
These foods have tons of vitamins and nutrients but are also relatively low in calories. This means you could essentially eat more of them and enjoy a larger meal that is rich in greens as well as the benefits of incorporating these greens as a part of your diet.
Here are some health benefits that are associated with consuming greens in your diet.
- Level blood pressure rates
- Weight loss and reduced risk of obesity
- Protection from heart disease and cardiovascular disorders
- Mental clarity and focus
- Reduction of mental illnesses
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Potential cancer risk reduction
These are just a few of the health benefits that have been associated with the consumption of greens. There is a slew of benefits that come with the territory and they are a valuable food source for you to incorporate into your daily life.
The Process of Freezing Greens
While it is typically recommended that you blanch greens before freezing them, you can actually freeze them without blanching them. We will talk a little bit about both processes here, but our focus is to be able to effectively freeze them without having to blanch them first.
Whether you want to freeze your greens because you found a great sale at your local grocery store or you have an abundant harvest from your own home-grown garden space, there are options for you. The steps do not change based on which source your fresh greens came from.
Blanching vegetables does NOT cook the vegetables. Blanching is a process that actually preserves your vegetables. With blanching, you boil water and then place the vegetables in the boiling water for about 3 minutes.
You don’t want to blanch them much longer than that or they will begin to cook. Immediately remove the vegetables from the boiling water and rinse them in cold water, allow them to drain and then pat them dry.
Through blanching, you can help to retain the nutrients of the vegetable no matter what you are doing next. Whether you intend to then cook with them, freeze them, or even make a salad, blanching can serve a specific purpose.
Blanching your vegetables will keep their original colors bright and strong, maintain the natural nutrients and enzymes of the vegetables. Blanching can help preserve your vegetable and extend the life so that it does not spoil.
Here are some potential risks of not blanching your greens prior to freezing them.
- Fading colors
- Wilted leaves
- Reduction of enzymes and natural flavors
- Change in texture
- Potential for spoiling when thawed to be used
All of that being said, we want to remind you that you can freeze your greens without blanching. However, we feel it is essential to prepare you for all of the facts that surround the circumstance and how skipping this step could potentially affect your greens.
Freezing Greens Without Blanching
You’re fully informed now on your greens and the blanching process should you choose to use that step. From here, we want you to know that this process would be the same regardless of whether you blanch your vegetables or simply freeze your fresh greens without that step.
- Start by doing a pre-freeze of your fresh greens. The pre-freeze process helps to preserve the vegetable overall and prevents them from wilting or losing their crisp, fresh flavor or texture.
- To pre-freeze, line a quality baking sheet with parchment paper and spread your fresh greens out on the sheet. Place this baking sheet in the freezer for 2-3 hours.
- Once you have completed the pre-freeze process, move your greens to an airtight container or simply put them into a well-sealed freezer bag. We recommend the freezer bag as it is much more space friendly.
- Freeze your greens up to 9 months.
When you use the pre-freeze method, it has a similar preservation effect that blanching your greens would have. If you do not want to blanch the greens, we highly recommend that you pre-freeze the greens for the best results.
Using Greens After Freezing
Using your greens after freezing is relatively easy. You can either pull them out of the freezer and place them in the fridge overnight or you can set them out at room temperature for 1-2 hours and they will thaw quickly.
We recommend actually opening them to thaw and even spreading out the greens. This will reduce the build-up of excess moisture while they are thawing. You can then pat them dry and proceed to use them once they are thawed sufficiently.
We hope that you have found this guide to be useful and that you feel comfortable proceeding with freezing your greens, whether you choose to blanch them or freeze them without blanching.
We’ve put together a question and answer section that could provide you with additional valuable information. We invite you to check it out and see if it may be helpful to you.
Can You Eat Too Many Leafy Greens?
While leafy greens are packed with healthful nutrition, it is possible to eat too many. The results of overdoing leafy greens could be kidney stones, abdominal pains, vomiting, low blood pressure, or irritable bowels.
This does not mean you should take leafy greens out of your diet. They are still packed with nutrition. It would take excessive amounts of greens to reach this point. In fact, studies estimate it could take 7 or more pounds of greens in one day to cause these symptoms.
Are All Greens Leafy Vegetables?
When you hear the term greens, it is typically in reference to leafy green vegetables. Collard greens are a primary example of a form of green, but you can also expect salad-type greens to be included in the term.
For a more extensive list of greens, you can refer to the detailed list provided in the article which provides common greens as well as nutritional values that greens can add to your health. There are not any known greens that are not of leafy format.