The time-honored guidelines for thawing meats and seafood get tossed out the window when you’re thawing vegetables. A long, careful overnight thaw in the refrigerator for a bag of mixed stir-fry veggies, for example, results in limp impersonators of the vibrant, crisp snow peas, red peppers and water chestnuts shown on the front of the bag. You’ll need to pursue different methods better suited to preserving the delicate cell walls of frozen vegetables.
Thaw by “cooking direct from frozen” as your preferred method of handling frozen vegetables. Bring as little water as possible — generally 1/2 to 2/3 cup of water per 16 ounces of frozen vegetables — to boil in a covered saucepan over medium heat. Add the vegetables and replace the lid on the saucepan. Occasionally separate the pieces as they cook. Continue until the veggies are tender, typically 7 to 10 minutes.
Microwave or stir-fry your frozen vegetables as an alternative method of cooking direct from frozen. To microwave them, place them directly in a microwave-safe bowl with 2 to 4 tablespoons of water; microwave for 4 minutes on high. Check the vegetables and stir them. Continue cooking minute by minute until they are heated through. To stir-fry them, heat a wok or skillet and add peanut or corn oil. Add your frozen vegetables and stir-fry for 5 to 7 minutes until they become crisp.
Defrost specific leafy and bulky frozen vegetables, such as broccoli spears, turnip greens and spinach — in other words, partially thaw them — by running them in their packaging under cold running water. If these vegetables are destined for use in casseroles, quiches or omelets, this gives them a chance to shed some of their water and avoid ruining the sauce. Avoid warm or hot water. Gently press the packaging with your fingers and thumbs to feel for change in texture of the vegetables from frozen solid to thawed. Open the packaging and briefly drain the vegetables in a colander before proceeding with your recipe.
Thaw large ears of corn on the cob partially ahead of time if you plan to boil them on the stove top as you would fresh corn on the cob, and eat them immediately after cooking. This allows the cob to heat through before the kernels turn mushy. Smaller ears may be OK to boil directly from frozen. Otherwise, microwave frozen ears of corn in ¼ cup of water. Microwaving allows for even thawing and heating. Try 4 to 6 minutes for two ears, 8 to 10 minutes for four ears and 11 to 14 minutes for six ears, Green Giant recommends.
References and ResourcesNational Center for Home Food Preservation: Thawing and Preparing Foods for Serving: Vegetables
Market Day: Broccoli Florets #4688
Yan-kit's Classic Cookbook; Yan-kit So
Fresh Pickins Market: Our Products: Stir-Fry Blend Cooking Instructions
Norpac: Vegetable Stir Fry
Managing Foodservice Operations; Sue Grossbauer
Cookery for the Hospitality Industry; Graham Dodgshun, et al.
Giant Eagle: Green Giant Corn-on-the-Cob