Preserving Rapini, Collard Greens
One of the first and last things to grow in an Italian garden is rapini, a collard green of which there are many varieties. A favorite in my family is ‘cavola rapa’ and once it starts you can get quite a few pickings as long as you pick the right leaves, and leave the right ones behind! Vegetables like this are easy to preserve for the winter months. We are using this as the example, but blanching and freezing can be done with a huge variety of vegetables.
The most important thing when preserving any food is to do it as soon as you can after it has been picked. Always wash well and trim off any parts that are bruised or blemished. Use a large pot to ensure plenty of water and don’t overcrowd your vegetables when blanching. Blanching before freezing stops enzyme actions which can cause loss of flavor, color and texture. It’s also an extra cleaning step and brightens the color of the food and helps retain all those good vitamins. It will soften the vegetables making them easier to pack and quick to cook later on. There is no one size fits all when it comes to the amount of time to blanch your vegetables. For the greens in this post we bring a pot of water to boil, add our clean rapa greens and blanch for 3 minutes. Here is a great chart to refer to for blanching times when freezing vegetables. Transfer your blanched rapini to an ice water bath and once cooled place the desired amount in freezer bags. Squeeze out the air and leave a little bit of water in the bag. Put in your freezer until you’re ready to cook them. Even if you don’t have a garden, this is a great way to preserve local foods when they are in season. We are blessed where we live to have many farms close by so we can eat local produce all year round by preserving seasonal vegetables and fruits.
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