Roasted vegetables are delicious and highly nutritious. They can be eaten just as a side dish, or added to salads, casseroles, soups, and pasta. They do, however, take some time to prepare and cook so is it possible to make a batch and freeze some for use later? The resounding answer is yes, you can. In this article, we will be telling you the best ways to freeze your roasted vegetables (you may also be interested in Can You Freeze Gravy?) without them losing their flavor. We will also tell you how to defrost them and how to reheat them so that they appear as if you had cooked them that day.
Freezing Roasted Vegetables
The Refed has stated that around 20% of waste food in the US is fresh vegetables. What a waste of healthy and nutritious food. However, it is easy to buy vegetables and not use them before they start going off. So how do we get around this?. One idea is to roast and then freeze the vegetables before they have a chance to spoil.
However, you should keep in mind that different vegetables roast and freeze in different ways. If you roast and freeze vegetables with a high water content, the texture will change and they may be a little mushy when defrosted. This includes such vegetables as mushrooms, eggplant, peppers, zucchini, and tomatoes. Because of this, it is best not to use them in a salad, but to add them to casseroles and pasta. Vegetables such as turnips, parsnips, carrots, and potatoes do keep their texture when frozen and thawed so they can be used in salads or as a side dish. Roasted vegetables can be kept in the freezer for up to six months, though they do start to lose their flavor the longer you keep them in the freezer. This, however, is highly sustainable, especially when you think that roasted vegetables will only keep for a few days in the fridge.
The Best Way to Freeze Roasted Vegetables
It’s not difficult to freeze roasted vegetables. Just follow our five easy steps.
- Choose your vegetables. It is important to choose your vegetables right. Your vegetables are going to come out of the freezer the same as they went in so be careful to avoid vegetables that are bruised or are going mushy. Freezing doesn’t miraculously change them to perfect vegetables.
- Roast the vegetables. Cut the vegetables into cubes of a similar size and cover them in olive oil, salt, and pepper. You can add herbs as well such as oregano, rosemary, or thyme. Rosemary goes well with potatoes and parsnips. You can even add some garlic if you want. Once you have done this, spread them out on a baking tray. Make sure that the vegetables are separate so that they cook evenly. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and once heated, put the vegetables in for between 20 and 45 minutes. The time will depend on the vegetable. For example, potatoes and turnips will take longer than mushrooms and tomatoes. It is best to undercook the vegetables as when you reheat them after freezing, they will finish cooking and then should be delicious.
If you decide to freeze leftovers, however, they will need less reheating time as they will have been cooked completely. You can still freeze them. Just don’t reheat them for as long.
- Cool the vegetables down. You have to cool down your vegetables for two reasons. The first is that if you don’t, excess moisture will form on the vegetables from the steam. When you come to defrost the vegetables, the moisture will go onto your vegetables and make them soggy. The second reason is that if you put warm or hot items in the freezer, it brings the temperature up in the freezer and other foodstuffs may start to defrost. Defrosting and refreezing can lead to bacteria forming on the food which can lead to food poisoning.
A good idea is to remove the vegetables from the tray. The tray will be hot and this will slow down the cooling process. In addition, the tray will have oil on it and this can permeate the vegetables making them go soggy. If you put them in the freezer when they are soggy, they will still be soggy when reheated.
- Freeze. You can freeze your vegetables in one container, in which case you need to flash freeze them. However, you can separate the vegetables into smaller portions which in a way is better as you will freeze just what you need for a meal.
Flash freezing is when you freeze quickly at a very low temperature and, as we have said, is only necessary if you are going to freeze a large container of vegetables. To do this, spread the vegetables on a baking tray. Make sure that they are not touching each other otherwise they will stick together. Put the tray in the freezer for about two hours. Don’t leave it in too long as freezer burn may occur. This isn’t harmful to your health, but it can alter the look and taste of your vegetables.
After the two hours are up, take the tray out of the freezer and transfer the vegetables to a container or freezer bag, and put it in the freezer. Because the vegetables won’t stick together, you can remove just as many as you want. However, you may have to sort through the vegetables if you have mixed vegetables and want an equal amount of each. It is easier to just put the mixture you want into smaller containers or bags and put them directly in the freezer.
It is a good idea to put a label on your container or bag saying what’s in it and the date frozen. It is all too easy to forget if you freeze a lot of items. Yes, food is usually edible after the recommended freezing time, but the flavor is often compromised. Labels often don’t stick on bags that well, so use a permanent marker. What you want to avoid are surprises where you don’t know what is in the bag or container.
The Best Way of Freezing Roasted Vegetables
The one thing you don’t want is freezer burn and this can occur in either a container or a freezer bag. Perhaps you are unsure of what freezer burn is. It’s when dehydration and oxidation have damaged your food. Your vegetables may go a dull color and become tough to eat. The way to avoid freezer burn is to make sure that you get all the air out of the container or bag. An airtight lid on a container should do the trick. With a bag, you will have to squeeze the air out. Believe us, it’s well worth doing this. Freezer burn won’t harm you, but the roasted vegetables will not taste as good.
An extra precaution is to first wrap the vegetables with cling film before you put them in a container or bag. This will definitely help to avoid freezer burn.
Another option is to put your roasted vegetables in a vacuum-sealed bag. If you do this, there is no need to use cling film as the vacuum sealer takes all the air out of the bag.
Let’s now take a look at all the different types of containers and bags that you can use and list their advantages and disadvantages.
- The big advantage of plastic containers is that they can be reused again and again. This makes them environmentally friendly as there isn’t plastic wastage until the container has come to the end of its life. This could be years.
- Because they can be reused, they are a cheap option. For a few dollars you can buy a whole set of plastic containers
- The containers have an airtight lid so there won’t be any freezer burn. Your food will be as delicious as when you first prepared it.
- Airtight containers can be big and will therefore take up a lot of space in your freezer. This is not ideal if you have a small freezer.
- Plastic can absorb flavors from other food in the fridge, so if you are storing a rich tomato pasta sauce or a chili in your freezer, their smells might permeate the container containing the roasted vegetables.
- If the plastic container contains residue from other food, this may permeate the roasted vegetables. The only solution is to thoroughly wash your containers until there isn’t a hint of other food in them.
- BPA chemicals can be in plastic containers and these are harmful to your health.
A solution is to use glass containers. Yes, they are going to be expensive, but they will last as long as plastic containers. In addition, they don’t absorb smells from other foods so your roasted vegetables will be as perfect as when you first prepared them.
- Ziplock bags are easy to store in the freezer. You can just lay one on top of the other so saving on space.
- Ziploc bags are very cheap to buy.
- As long as you squeeze out the air, there will be no freezer burn.
- You can easily organize different portion sizes.
- They can only be used once so you will be wasting a lot of plastic. As you know there is too much plastic waste in our oceans.
- Plastic bags can absorb smell so you may get roasted vegetables tasting like something you hadn’t planned.
Vacuum Sealed Container
- They are easy to stack in the freezer, just like ziplock bags.
- Because the vegetables are vacuum sealed, there won’t be freezer burn.
- This method keeps your vegetables fresh for the longest.
- You can get a variety of bag sizes.
- You can do different portion sizes for different meals
- You can’t reuse the bags so there is plastic waste every time you use a bag. This is not good for the environment.
- The plastic can absorb other smells in the freezer.
- You have to buy a vacuum sealer.
- The bags can be expensive.
How to Thaw and Reheat Your Frozen Roasted Vegetables
The best place to thaw your frozen roasted vegetables is in the fridge. Put them in there for about 12 hours or overnight. They retain their form better if you defrost them in the fridge rather than on your counter.
When it comes to reheating the roasted vegetables make sure that you reheat them in the right way otherwise all your efforts at preserving them will have gone to waste. The best way to reheat them is by grilling, sauteing, or roasting. If you put them in the oven, use a medium heat of 375F. Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil before you reheat them. Don’t use a microwave as this will make them go soggy.
Roasting vegetables and then freezing them is an excellent idea. It will give you many meals in hand when you don’t have the time to cook. If you have vegetables that you don’t think you are going to be able to use before they spoil, roast them and they will be as fresh when defrosted as they were when you froze them. If you have leftovers from a meal, freeze them. They will be fine for another day. You can use these vegetables in so many dishes including casseroles, soups, stews, salads, and in pasta dishes. There won’t be a chance to get bored with your meals however often you have roasted vegetables.
The main things to remember are to get all the air out of the bag or container before you freeze the vegetables, and keep them for up to six months to get the best flavor out of them.