The humble cauliflower with its subtle flavour and robust texture allows it to be used in a variety of ways, and a crown of florets goes a long way. Whether it is boiled, roasted, riced or puréed — or added to a curry or soup — this versatile vegetable will add vitamins and fibre to any dish.
The good news is that cauliflower freezes with good results and can be conveniently added straight from the freezer to the pan, reducing preparation and cooking time. Like other vegetables including runner beans, carrots and courgettes, it's easy to freeze cauliflower: here's how...
How to freeze cauliflower
Before freezing cauliflower, check the white crown is without any brown patches and that the florets are firm, as the cauliflower will taste sulphurous after defrosting if past its best.
Can you freeze fresh cauliflower without blanching?
We'd strongly recommend blanching cauliflower first, otherwise the high water content in the veg will turn it mushy if you freeze raw. To prevent deterioration of texture and nutritional value, it is best to partly cook (blanch) cauliflower florets before freezing. Wash the cauliflower and chop into equal size florets.
To blanch the cauliflower, cook the florets in boiling water for 2 minutes, remove from the heat and drain, then plunge into a bowl of ice cold water so the florets stop cooking. Drain again, dry thoroughly with kitchen paper, then lay the blanched cauliflower florets in a single layer on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Put the freezer on its coldest setting and freeze until solid, then tip the frozen cauliflower florets into an airtight freezer bag or container to store. Open freezing the cauliflower at the beginning ensures that they don’t freeze in clumps, making it easy to cook only what you need straight from the freezer. The cauliflower should be stored in an airtight freezer bag or container, labelled with the date they are frozen. Freeze for up to 6 months.
Cauliflower can also be frozen as ‘rice’, which is convenient as a whole cauliflower will produce a large amount of rice that can be used another time. To freeze cauliflower rice, cut the cauliflower florets from the stem (discard leaves and stem), wash and dry the florets thoroughly. Pulse florets in a food processor until the pieces are the size of rice or couscous. Divide the cauliflower into portion sizes and transfer to airtight freezer bags or containers, label with the quantity and date frozen. As the cauliflower has not been blanched, it should be consumed within two months.
How is cauliflower affected by freezing?
For best results, freeze the cauliflower as fresh as possible and avoid freezing any cauliflower that has turned soft. If properly prepared and stored, the flavour and texture of the cauliflower should not be altered. Cauliflower tastes best being cooked from frozen and will result in the best texture rather than defrosting first.
How to use frozen cauliflower
It is best to cook the cauliflower from frozen, and it can be added straight into dishes such as stews, curries and tray bakes. Frozen cauliflower florets can be simply boiled for 3-5 minutes, until tender, the normal cooking time will be reduced as they have been previously blanched. If using the frozen cauliflower florets in cauliflower cheese, boil for about 3 minutes until just tender before combining with the cheese sauce. The frozen cauliflower can be added to dishes being cooked in a frying pan, cook over a low heat and stir often until tender. To roast the frozen cauliflower, place in a roasting tin and drizzle with some oil and season. Roast in an oven preheated to 220°C (200°C fan) for 20-25min, until golden and tender.
Cauliflower rice can be microwaved from frozen, place in a microwavable bowl and cover with clingfilm. Microwave on full power for 3-4 minutes, stirring halfway through, until steaming. Alternatively put it into a pan with a little butter or oil, and cover with a lid, cook gently for 5-8min stirring every now and again to break up the cauliflower, until tender. Remove the lid for the last few minutes to reduce any liquid. The rice cooked in the pan will produce a slightly drier texture than the microwave method.
What recipes can I make with frozen cauliflower?
Use frozen cauliflower rice in this deliciously healthy meal, adding it to the pan straight from the freezer covering the pan with a lid for the initial 5 minutes to help defrost the cauliflower, then remove the lid for a few minutes to dry the cauliflower rice.
Add frozen florets to this nutritious cauliflower curry, reducing the cooking time as the cauliflower has already been blanched.
This cauliflower cheese soup is a twist on a classic and perfect to use up frozen cauliflower.
Ready whizzed cauliflower rice makes these low carb cauliflower crust pizzas very quick to make. Heat the rice from frozen in the microwave following the recipe instructions, reducing the time to 3-4 minutes.
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