One of the best ways to preserve bok choy is by freezing it. Bok choy is a leafy green vegetable that is densely packed with nutrients such as glucosinolates, beta carotene, calcium, and folate. However, it is challenging to preserve in the fridge due to its high water content, making the vegetable favorable for microorganism growth.
It also tends to wilt in the refrigerator, so freezing the bok choy is ideal. Aside from preserving nutrient content, texture, and flavor, frozen bok choy can be kept in the freezer for four to six months. Additionally, bok choy can be frozen fresh or cooked.
Does Bok Choy Freeze Well?
Like other vegetables, bok choy freezes well when properly prepared. Although there are many ways to prepare bok choy for the freezing process, blanching helps preserve the vegetable’s texture and flavor. Flash freezing is also a great option to maintain its taste and crunchy texture.
Preparing Bok Choy
The first thing to do is to wash the bok choy. Most of today’s supermarket vegetables contain harmful chemicals like pesticides. Even organic-labeled produce may still have dirt, grit, and bugs. To properly clean the bok choy, leave it to soak in water for a few minutes or rinse under running water and wash thoroughly. According to the Centre for Science and Environment, about 75% of pesticides can be removed with cold water.
Blanching and Freezing Bok Choy
The blanching process is the best method for long-term storage of bok choy. This cooking method also prevents it from going mushy or any loss in flavor. After washing the bok choy properly, place the vegetable into a pot of water and bring it to a boil. Making sure that all of the bok choy is submerged in water and is boiled for two minutes. Afterward, remove from the heat and immediately place in ice water for another two minutes.
Drain the water and leave it to dry in a strainer, plate, or baking tray. Use a paper towel to pat down the vegetable until completely dry. Any extra moisture can cause freezer burn and result in deterioration.
Keep the bok choy whole or chop into smaller pieces. Cutting it into smaller pieces will speed up the freezing process. After drying the bok choy, place them on a tray covered with baking paper. Ensure that they are spread out evenly and not touching each other, then place the tray in the freezer for 3 or 4 hours.
Place in an air-tight container and remove any excess air from storage bags. Remember to date and label the container before placing it in the freezer; Bok choy can be kept frozen for up to 12 months.
Freezing Bok Choy to Maintain Nutrients
As a nutrient-dense leafy vegetable, it is essential to wilt the leaves to prevent freezer burn. Aside from blanching, another method to retain nutrients is to stir fry the bok choy leaves in a non-stick pan without any oil until they wilt. As soon as all of the leaves have wilted, place them in ice water to stop the cooking process. Properly dry the leaves, portion, then freeze.
Does Bok Choy Have to Be Blanched for Freezing?
Not many people store fresh/raw bok choy in the freezer, but it is possible. Raw bok choy will also stay fresh in the freezer for up to 12 months when stored properly. The more common approach is to blanch the leafy green similar to frozen spinach and collard greens.
Defrosting Bok Choy
Bok choy can be thawed overnight in the fridge or for six to eight hours before consumption. The vegetable can also be placed in warm water and left to thaw for an hour. It is highly recommended not to place bok choy in hot water to speed up the thawing process. This will cook the vegetable and cause it to lose texture and flavor quickly.
Thawing the bok choy can also be done by placing the vegetable under running water for a few minutes. This way, the bok choy will slowly thaw and not lose its flavor.
Is Defrosting Necessary?
No, bok choy does not have to be thawed to be consumed. If the bok choy will be used in stew, soup, or stir-fry dishes, there is no need to thaw the vegetable. Putting the frozen bok choy into the dish will defrost it while cooking, retaining its taste and texture.
How Long Can Frozen Bok Choy Last?
Bok choy can be stored in the freezer for between six to twelve months, depending on how fresh it was when purchased or harvested it. After six months, bok choy is prone to freezer burn and deterioration. This means that the vegetable will quickly lose its texture, taste, and nutrients. Bok choy is best preserved if frozen at a constant 0°F (-18°C).
What If the Bok Choy is Bitter?
Bok choy is a natural bitter vegetable but tends to become even more so as it matures. The longer you keep bok choy in the fridge, the more bitter it will be, so freezing the vegetable is preferred. Another method to reduce the bitterness in bok choy is to place it in a bowl and mix it with oil.
If the bitterness is unappealing, opt for baby bok choy. Baby bok choy is milder in flavor and is more tender.