Lambs Quarters for the Freezer
We have a lot of lambs quarters growing in our garden. I weeded much of it out to make way for my regular garden vegetables, but I keep a small patch here and there to harvest for salads, cooked greens, and freezing for the winter. I am able to harvest much more lambs quarters than spinach (which tends to bolt quickly in our Midwest heat) and I like the flavor even better.
Last week Joe and I harvested several large buckets of lambs quarters and I washed, blanched, and froze them for later. You can do the same and have free greens in your freezer ready to heat and eat when there aren’t any veggies to pick.
Pick lambs quarters when they are young and tender for the best results. As they get older you may still harvest the newer leaves from the tops of the plants, but they tend to get tough as the flowers are forming. Morning is the best time to harvest when the temps are cooler. Soak the greens in cool water for a few minutes and rinse away the dirt.
Blanch the greens in boiling water just until the color changes to a deep green and the leaves are limp. You don’t want to cook for too long and lose the nutrients. Blanching kills the enzymes that cause the nutrients and flavor of vegetables to deteriorate in the freezer. Remove the blanched greens from the pot, drain, and cool in a shallow pan in your refrigerator. When they are completely cooled, pack them into freezer containers or bags, removing as much air as you can to prevent freezer burn. You may use a vacuum sealer but be sure to drain the greens thoroughly to prevent excess moisture from being sucked into the motor of your machine. Pack enough in each bag for one or two meals. Don’t be tempted to save time and bags by packing a huge gallon size bag if you won’t be able to use it all at one time. It is nearly impossible to break up a huge chunk of frozen greens. You may also freeze the greens in a shallow pan before packing them into a bag. This way you can pack the frozen greens loosely in bags that can be opened and only partially used.
Label your bags of blanched greens with the contents and date, then place in the freezer. Use your frozen lambs quarters within a year for the best flavor and nutritional value.