Arugula, with its peppery taste, is a beloved salad green that can brighten any dish. However, like many leafy vegetables, it has a relatively short shelf life. This might lead you to wonder, can you freeze arugula? While freezing is a commonly used method to prolong the life of many foods, it’s important to understand how it affects arugula specifically.
Can you Freeze Arugula?
Yes, it is possible to freeze arugula, but there are important caveats to note. Unlike some other vegetables, freezing arugula can drastically change its texture, making it unsuitable for some uses. However, if you plan to use it in cooked dishes or smoothies, freezing can be a viable option.
Does Freezing Change Texture?
Freezing arugula does change its texture significantly. Fresh arugula has a crisp, snappy texture, but frozen arugula loses this crispness and becomes soft and wilted once thawed. This is due to the water in the leaves forming ice crystals that damage the cell structure of the arugula. However, this change in texture isn’t a problem if you’re using the arugula in a cooked dish or a smoothie.
How to Freeze Arugula: Step by Step Guide
- Wash the arugula thoroughly to remove any dirt or debris.
- Pat the arugula dry with a clean towel. The less moisture, the better, as water can lead to ice crystals.
- Spread the arugula leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Place the baking sheet in the freezer for about two hours or until the leaves are completely frozen. This process is known as flash freezing, which helps to prevent the leaves from clumping together.
- Transfer the frozen arugula to a freezer-safe bag or container. Label it with the date and return it to the freezer quickly to prevent thawing.
Can you Freeze Uncooked/Fresh Arugula?
As mentioned earlier, you can freeze fresh arugula, but the texture will change upon thawing. Therefore, fresh, frozen arugula is best used in cooked recipes or smoothies.
How Long Can You Freeze Arugula?
Properly stored, frozen arugula can last in the freezer for up to eight months. After this point, it may start to lose flavor and develop freezer burn.
When it comes to thawing frozen arugula, the methods used depend largely on how you plan to use it.
Defrosting in the Refrigerator
This method is not typically recommended for arugula as it may become overly soggy.
Direct Use from the Freezer
If you’re using arugula in smoothies or cooked dishes, you can use it directly from the freezer, as it thaws quickly when added to a hot dish or blended in a smoothie.
How to Use Frozen Arugula?
Cooking with frozen arugula can be a bit different from using the fresh variety, given the changes in texture and moisture content that occur during freezing. Here’s how to use frozen arugula and situations where it might not be the best choice:
Methods Suitable for Frozen Arugula
Soups and Stews
Directly add frozen arugula into boiling broths or stews towards the end of the cooking process, letting it just wilt before serving.
Heat some oil or butter in a pan, then add the frozen arugula, stirring occasionally until it’s thoroughly heated and wilted. Season as desired.
Frozen arugula can go directly into your blender with other smoothie ingredients. It adds a peppery kick and extra nutrients.
Stir the frozen arugula into pasta sauces, letting it wilt and mix in with the other ingredients. It pairs well with creamy or tomato-based sauces.
Omelettes or Frittatas:
Thaw the frozen arugula, squeeze out any excess water, and then add it to your egg mixture.
Methods and Dishes NOT Suitable for Frozen Arugula:
The texture of frozen and then thawed arugula is significantly softer. It won’t have the crispness of fresh arugula, making it unsuitable for fresh salads where a crunchy texture is essential.
As a Garnish
Fresh arugula often garnishes dishes because of its vibrant green color and crisp texture. Frozen arugula, when thawed, loses its bright appearance and won’t provide the same visual appeal or texture.
Sandwiches and Wraps
The soggy texture of thawed arugula might not be ideal in sandwiches or wraps where fresh, crisp greens are typically preferred.
In summary, yes, you can freeze arugula, but this comes with changes in texture that you should be prepared for. By following the proper freezing and usage methods, you can ensure minimal waste and maximum enjoyment of your arugula, even when it’s out of season or you’ve got more than you can handle. Happy freezing!