6 Ways to Preserve Thistles

Thistles are a winter vegetable used in various preparations for their distinctive bitter taste. If you are fond of this vegetable, you will surely be wondering how to preserve thistles?

You should keep the fresh thistles in the pantry for up to 3 days. You can also refrigerate them fresh for up to 15 days or if they are cooked for 2 days. For the long term, choose to freeze thistles for 12 months. Alternatively, you can keep it in jars or prepare a pickle of thistles.

Preserve Thistles

Stay with us and know each of the ways described above to enjoy thistles for longer.

How to keep thistles in the pantry

Keeping thistles in the pantry should only be done if the vegetable is in perfect condition, not discolored or very ripe. Otherwise, it would be best to store them refrigerated to avoid decomposition.

Thistles are vegetables produced in cool environments, and they do not withstand arid and sunny climates. So, the pantry must be cool, especially out of heat and humidity. 

It also prevents thistles from being away from strong odors because this food quickly absorbs pollutants from the environment. So today, we show you the easy steps of keeping thistles in the pantry. 

  • Step 1: Find a bowl 

We look for a bowl, put enough cold water, and squeeze a lemon. We will use this after cleaning the thisthles which will prevent them from oxidize.

  • Step 2: Clean the thistles well

Grab the thistle stalks and remove the hardest part with the threads of the stems. As we clean it, we cut it into pieces of about 5 cm and pour them into the bowl. 

It is essential to wear gloves, or your hands will dye brown.

  • Step 3: Drain the thistles

Place the thistles in pieces in a stainer so that they drain well.

  • Step 4: Wrap the thistles in absorbent paper

After the thistles are dry, spread paper towels on your table and place the thistles, wrapping them very well.  

You will do this with each of the vegetables you want to store in the fridge since it is a tip to avoid moisture when you keep them and prevent mold accumulation. 

  • Step 5: Find a bag to pack 

We look for a plastic bag to store and drill it to have gaps, as the humidity inside the bag is limited because it will always be airy. Then carefully place the thistles and close the bag.

  • Step 6: Store thistles in the fridge

We take the thistles to the fridge and store them in the vegetable drawer, leaving them alone without other fruits or vegetables.

With this technique, you can keep fresh thistles for up to 10-15 days in perfect condition.  

How to preserve frozen thistles

Can we freeze thistles? Effectively You can freeze them. However, some necessary steps must be taken, such as blanching so that the freezing process maintains the excellent quality of the thistles.

Now, we recommend you consume it as quickly as possible so that they do not get rubbery. So, how do we preserve frozen thistles? Let’s see below the steps and some easy tips for better storage.

  • Step 1: Clean the thistles well  

We remove the leaves from the stems with a sharp knife, then grab the thistle stalks and pull the hard part. 

  • Step 2: Cut the thistles into pieces

Cut the thistles into pieces 5 cm long and place them in a bowl with water with lemon juice so that they do not oxidize so quickly. 

  • Step 3: Wash the thistles

Once you have cut the thistles, you should wash them well at least twice.

  • Step 4: We are looking for a pot to blanch the thistles 

We look for a pot and put enough water, a lemon split into four parts, and a tablespoon of salt. Dissolve all the ingredients well and boil the thistles for about 3 minutes.

  • Step 5: Remove the thistles and let cool

Remove the thistles from the pot with a strainer and immediately cool them with a bowl filled with ice water to cut the cooking so that they do not cook.

  • Step 6: Freeze thistles

Put the thistl6es in an oven tray or ice tray and take them to the freezer for an hour. With this technique, you will prevent them from getting glued, and you will be able to take the exact amount you need.

  • Step 7: Place frozen thistles in airtight bags 

Once the thistles are frozen, we store them in ziplock plastic bags and seal them tightly.

  • Step 8: Store thistles

We take the bags with the thistles to the bottom of the freezer, where the temperature is lower and more stable.

This method keeps the thistles frozen for up to 12 months in perfect condition.

How to can thistles in jars

Can I store thistles for months without freezing? Yes, you can. And to do that, you need to consider home canning as an alternative for freezing.

Below we show you the steps to do it from the comfort of your home.

  • Step 1: Wash the thistles 

It would help wash the thistles several times to remove any dirt between their branches. 

For a better cleanse, place the thistles inside a container filled with water with the juice of a lemon, add salt and soak for a few minutes to prevent the thistles from turning black when cut.

  • Step 2: Cut the thistles

With a sharp knife, we cut well each of the stalks of the thistle, and then we remove the strands (threads) and leaves. Once we cleaned the thistle, we cut it into pieces about 5 cm long. 

Remember to wear gloves, so you don’t stain your hands. 

  • Step 3: Place them in a bowl 

Please put them in a bowl and add salt on all sides of the thistles to remove the bitter taste. 

  • Step 4: Find an express pot to cook thistles

We look for a pot and put enough water, lemon juice, a teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 tablespoon of flour. Then, we dilute it well so that all the ingredients are integrated. 

Lemon and flour prevent thistles from oxidizing.

  • Step 5: Cook the thistles

Pour the thistles into the express pot, and close it well. Cook for 40 minutes.

  • Step 6: Store thistles in glass jars 

After the cooking time, remove the thistles from the pot and put them in the sterilized glass jars.

Then we place the cooking water, covering all the thistles for better preservation.

  • Step 7: Find a large pot to make a water bath

We look for a large pot and put enough water on it to place the thistles in a bain-marie.

  • Step 8: Place the thistles in a water bath 

Place the jars vertically in the pot, with the lid facing up. As soon as it starts to boil, leave them for 20 minutes.

  • Step 9: Let the thistles cool

After the time of the bain-marie, carefully remove the glass jars from the pot using kitchen gloves. Then place them with the lid down so that they cool.

  • Step 10: Store in the fridge

After the canned thistles are cold, take them to the fridge to cool.

This preservation technique makes the thistles stay in perfect condition for about six months.

How to preserve cooked thistles

You have prepared thistles and leftovers, wondering what to do with them? Do not worry, don’t throw them away since it is possible to store them. Whether in a rich sauce or steamed, leftover thistles can be refrigerated. 

Here are two ways to preserve cooked thistles, depending on how you prepared them, so you do not discard them. 

How to keep refrigerated steamed thistles

Let’s see the instructions for storing steamed thistles in the fridge.

  • Step 1: Remove thistles from hot water

With a strainer, remove the thistles from the water and let them drain well.

  • Step 2: Let the thistles cool

The next thing we must do is let the thistles cool well before storing them. 

You should not leave this food at room temperature for more than 2 hours, as it can be contaminated and damaged quickly.

  • Step 3: Pack the thistles 

Find an airtight plastic bag (ziplock) and insert the well-distributed thistles. 

The bag must be vacuum-sealed, so it would be best if you have a particular machine to remove the air and perform this process. 

But in case you do not have it, relax. First, you have to look for a straw and close the bag leaving a small hole where you introduce the straw. Then suck the air well, and when you notice that the bag barely has air inside, close quickly.

  • Step 4: Store in the fridge

Once the thistles are vacuum sealed, store them in the fridge.

You can store steamed thistles for ten days in the fridge.

How to preserve thistles in sauce or stew in the fridge

Do you want to take advantage of the sauce of the thistles? There is a way to preserve them so that nothing you have prepared is lost.

Here we indicate the easy and quick steps for you to preserve the flavor of thistles in a delicious stew

  • Step 1: Cool the thistles 

As in the previous case, it is essential that the thistles are cold and then stored. 

  • Step 2: Put the thistles in sauce in a plastic container 

Place the thistles in an airtight plastic container. Take care of covering the thistles entirely with the sauce so that it does not dry out when refrigerated. Then tightly close the container.

  • Step 3: Store in the fridge

Place the container on the backside of the fridge. You can preserve cooked thistles for approximately 1-2 days. 

How to preserve pickled thistles

Pickled thistles are a delight that you have to try, plus it is one of the ways to preserve this vegetable for several days. Pickling is an ancient technique that combines all the acidic and aromatic ingredients to achieve a more extensive shelf life. 

Surely your mouth was watering! We do not wait any longer and know the steps to make this delicious pickled thistle. 

  • Step 1: Clean the thistles well

With a sharp knife, we remove the leaves and strands of the thistles very carefully. 

Then we rub it with salt and lemon so that they do not rust for 5 minutes.

  • Step 2: Cut the thistles into pieces

Cut the thistles into pieces 5 cm long.

  • Step 3: Boil the thistles

We look for a pot, put enough water and salt, pour the thistles and let it boil for 20 minutes.

  • Step 4: Drain the thistles

Once the cooking time has elapsed, remove the pieces of thistles from the pot and place them in a strainer to drain.

  • Step 5: Cook the thistles in vinegar

We look for a saucepan, and we add a glass of white wine vinegar, 1/2 glass of extra virgin olive oil, a whole garlic head, two bay leaves, thyme, and rosemary, and let it heat.

  • Step 6: Pour the thistles into the vinaigrette

Once the vinaigrette is hot, pour the drained thistles (step 4) and let it cook for 5 minutes. And then let it stand for a few minutes.

  • Step 7: Pour the thistles into glass jars

Pour the thistles into sterilized glass jars, making sure we cover all of them with the vinaigrette. 

  • Step 8: Store in the fridge

You can store the pickled thistles in the refrigerator. This storage method keeps the thistles for about 15 days without opening the containers. After you open it, it will last two days more.

How do you know when thistles are bad?

Thistle is a plant that reaches its splendor in winter, so it is a food susceptible to environmental changes. If it receives a lot of heat and sun, the thistle will be damaged quickly. That is why it is necessary to know when it is in poor condition to dispose of it.

At first sight, you can notice when this vegetable is not suitable for consumption. The smell is going to be weird too. Below we will give you the signs to recognize when the thistles are not fresh, and you cannot consume them.

  • The color of thistles should be bright green, but when it is decaying, they turn black or brown. 
  • The stem has bumps or bruises
  • It has mold in some of its parts. 
  • The thistle is firmly textured, but it indicates that it is bad if it is soft. 
  • It smells rancid or rotten. 

How long do thistles last?

The durability of thistles depends on how fresh they are when you buy them, plus the correct handling and storage. Therefore, these variables have to be considered to calculate the useful life of thistles.

So how long do thistles last? In the following table, we answer this question in detail.

Conservation methodDuration time
Fresh thistles in the pantry1-3 days.
Refrigerated thistles10-15 days.
Frozen thistles12 months.
Thistles in jars6 months.
Refrigerated steamed thistles10 days.
Cooked sauce cooked in refrigerated sauce1-2 days.
Refrigerated pickled thistles (unopened)15 days.
Refrigerated pickled thistles (opened)2 days.

What is the best way to preserve thistles?

It is always advisable to consume this type of vegetable fresh to take advantage of all its nutrients. But, if you want to store them for a few days, the best way is to refrigerate them for 10-15 days. Use a ziplock bag with holes so that the thistles receive the right temperature while in the fridge. 

You can also freeze the thistles if you want to store them for longer. 

I hope you have learned how to preserve thistles and you can enjoy this vegetable beyond its season. I also invite you to read other posts on our website, where you can find all kinds of food preservation methods.

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