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Can You Freeze Arugula?

Norah Clark
Arugula on a plate

You can freeze arugula, but the texture, once thawed will be very different in color and taste. The way I store and thaw arugula helps keep the color and flavor.

Many people enjoy cultivating their own herbs and vegetables, I have a greenhouse full of thyme, rosemary, pea shoots, and tomatoes. I grow a few that are difficult to find in shops. When it’s time to harvest, you’ll find yourself with an abundance of arugula, you’re not sure what to do with.

If you’re not sure if you can identify with that scenario, here’s a different one. The only thing you can buy is an enormous bag that is destined to rot away at the back of the refrigerator.

Today, we’ll take a look through the best methods to store arugula for the long term so it doesn't go to waste, some different storage options and how freezing impacts each one, and then the most efficient method to defrost frozen arugula.

What Is Arugula?

Arugula is a green leaf herb that is commonly referred to as ‘rocket’. I normally call arugula as rocket.

There are many different names that refer to it that vary in the region you’re from. It could be referred to as colewort, rucola and Eruca.

Arugula is a highly regarded salad vegetable, which is appreciated for its distinctive flavor.

It delivers is a sweet, spicy bitter, and a bit tart-like flavor, packing a punch.

Apart from being used being used in salads, it's often used to make a delicious topping for pizzas and pasta. It is also used in stews and soups to produce an intriguing and balanced taste.

You can use arugula to make pesto dip sauce, flavored Hummus or salsa.

Why Freeze Arugula?

In most places where it is grown (and like many other herbs), arugula is a seasonal ingredient

And, if you are able to find it in season, it’s probably imported from different regions or of lower quality and will likely taste bland and be less crisp and refreshing.

A lot of people would rather freeze their arugula, rather than buying bland (and costlier) choices in the off-season.

There’s a chance that you’ve picked the arugula in your garden and have way more than you’ll need within one or two weeks. Therefore it’s a good alternative!

There is one of two methods to freeze the arugula. The first method is simple and straightforward, while the second involves a little more work.

Each method can give different outcomes. Always think about the ways you’ll likely use the arugula in the future, prior to freezing it.

It’s crucial to note that neither method can preserve the crispness of the leaf that is fresh; both of them will render it limp and soft.

One method is to blanch the arugula. The initial method involves placing the arugula leaves in the freezer-safe container or bag and freezing them immediately. The second option calls for you first boil the arugula before soaking it in hot water. This is called blanching. 

The main reason people suggest taking this approach is in order to protect the hue and taste of the green leaf. It also helps keep the herb safe from freezer burn that can completely ruin the flavor.

Do You Have To Blanch Arugula Before Freezing?

Whether it's necessary to blanch arugula prior to being frozen is a subject of debate. Some individuals swear by this, while others think that it’s unnecessary.

Professional chefs and advent cooks, always blanch herbs and leafy greens prior to freezing them.

This won’t guarantee more of a thawed-looking texture than the other technique. However, it will keep their taste and color. Additionally, the blanched version can be stored in a smaller container than fresh leaves.

How Long Can Arugula Stay Frozen?

We suggest not to keep it for more than three months. It’s safe to eat for as long as a year, however it will not taste great.

If possible, try using the arugula that you have frozen within one month after freezing. The longer you keep it the longer it is stored, the more flavor will be depleted.

How To Properly Freeze Arugula Leaves

Today, we’ll be discussing the detailed steps to blanching and freezing the Arugula. 

Our approach aims to keep the flavor, color and (to some degree) feel of arugula leaf.

Step 1: Blanch The Arugula

The first step is to bring water to boiling point. Add all of the arugula leaves ensuring that they are completely covered.

Allow to boil for approximately 30-45 seconds or until they’re slightly soft.

Step 2: Drain And Cool The Leaves

Once blanched, place them in bowls filled with cold water for a few minutes until cooled completely.

Drain them in a sieve or colander ensuring there is no water left.

Step 3: Place The Leaves In A Container

After draining, put the leaves on a paper towel to help rid of any remaining water.

Once dried,pop the leaves in an airtight container or freezer bag. Make sure to get rid of as much air as possible.

Step 4: Wrap In Foil And Freeze

Encase the container with aluminum foil; this will shield it from excessive freezer burn.

Then, label the container, and place it in the freezer.

How To Thaw Arugula

The most effective method to defrost fresh herbs and greens is to do it in a slow, steady manner.

Remove the container from the foil. Then, put it in the fridge , so that it will slowly melt over the course of a night.

However, most herbs require much shorter time to defrost. They are likely to be ready in just a few hours.

If you’re on the go and need to get them out of the freezer, you can simply thaw the arugula at room temperature. If you’re planning to incorporate the leaves in a soup or smoothie then simply mix the frozen herb along with other ingredients.

How Does Arugula Change After It Has Been Thawed?

Once the arugula has thawed, its texture will not be similar to the fresh version.

The leaves of arugula will be extremely limp and soft. They’ll be devoid of all strength and structural integrity.

This is the reason it is best to make use of thawed arugula when making recipes that require mixing or cooking and isn’t recommended to use as an ingredient in fresh form or as a garnish.

The longer it’s frozen, the more sour and peppery the flavor will be.

As with any frozen or thawed ingredient and frozen food items, its hue will be less vibrant.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you keep arugula in the refrigerator?

Before putting it in your refrigerator, wash and dry the leaves thoroughly. After that, put them on a paper towel in a container that is loosely sealed. This simple technique will ensure that the leaves remain fresh for a longer period of time.

Can you freeze leaves of arugula with oil?

This method is employed by a few, but it’s not one of our favorites.

We didn’t specifically mention it because it’s only useful when you’re using the oil-soaked arugula as a dressing or pesto. Too much oil can ruin every other recipe, which is the reason we don’t suggest making use of it in any way.

Basically it means freezing chopped arugula leaves and submerging them in olive oil. The oil’s purpose is to preserve the flavor and the color. It can certainly achieve this, however the texture will be soft once it’s defrosted.

What can cause arugula to become slimy?

Arugula that is slimy (or slimy leaves or greens generally) is the result of the process of deterioration. It’s a clear indication that the leaves are bad and shouldn’t be consumed.

To stop this from taking place, protect the leaves from any humidity or moisture. It’s also beneficial to store the leaves on paper towels that will absorb any water droplets found in the atmosphere or onto the leaf.

Profile Image Norah Clark

Norah Clark

Norah Clark, Editor of Boyd Hampers! Norah is a food writer with over a decade of experience in hospitality as a pastry chef, sous chef, and barista; former chef at the Savoy Hotel, Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons and Plaza Hotel.

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