What is Blanching and How Do I Do It?
Blanching is a simple technique of quickly heating and then “shocking” (cooling) food to enhance and preserve the freshness, nutrient value, flavor, color, and texture.
When and Why is it Used?
The technique is most commonly used with vegetables and certain fruits –
- as a necessary preparation step for freezing fresh vegetables.
- to partially cook vegetables so they more tender when used on a crudité platter, in salads, wraps or rolls, or to shorten cook time in stir-fries.
- to loosen skins for peeling when preparing some fruits, vegetables or nuts for freezing or canning.
- to lessen strong flavors, such as for making rutabagas more mild tasting.
What Equipment is Needed?
Luckily, one does not need any very special equipment to blanch vegetables or fruit. Most items are commonly found in home kitchens. You will need:
- cutting board
- large mixing bowl
- slotted spoon or skimmer
- a cloth or paper towel
- large pot (cover is optional)
How is it Done?
The two most common methods used for blanching are boiling and steaming. The basic process is to very briefly boil or steam the vegetables and then immediately “shock” them by submerging in ice water to stop the cooking process. The amount of time the vegetables spend steaming or boiling will vary so consult a reliable source such as –
- National Center for Home Food Preservation
- Blanching Directions and Times for Home Freezer Storage
- Back to Basics: Blanching (Tramontina)
- Use a timer for accuracy
- Have the ice bath (ice cubes and water in a large bowl) ready
- Use a large pot for boiling the water
- Bring the water in the pot to a full, rolling boil before adding any vegetables
- Start timing the cooking process as soon as the vegetables are added to the boiling water
Instructions for the “Boiling Method”
- Prepare your vegetables, cutting in uniform size for even cooking. If blanching more than one type of vegetable, keep each type separate. Cover lightly with a cloth or paper towel.
- Consult a chart for the amount of time to blanch your chosen vegetables. Most vegetables take about 2 – 4 minutes, but times can vary greatly by type and size.
- Fill a large pot just over halfway with water, add a light sprinkling of salt and bring to a full, rolling boil. Covering the pot will help the water reach a boil sooner but is not required. Salt helps maintain color and improves flavor but may be omitted if you prefer.
- While waiting for the water to boil, prepare the ice water bath by filling a large mixing bowl about 1/3 with ice and 1/3 with water. Leave a bit of room at the top for the water to rise when the veggies are added.
- Add vegetables to boiling water in small batches (one type at a time) so that the boil is maintained. Begin timing as soon as the vegetables are added to the boiling water.
NOTE: If blanching large amounts of vegetables, do so in several batches so as not to overfill the pot so as not to alter the cooking and quality of the vegetables.
- Once time is up, use a slotted spoon to transfer the vegetables to the ice bath to stop the cooking process. Push down gently to submerge.
- Once the vegetables are completely cold, remove them from the ice bath and spread them out on a large cloth or paper towel. Dry completely before placing into containers to freeze or refrigerate.
What vegetables or fruit do you blanch and how do you use them? Share your ideas in the comments section.
© 2019 Love + Craft Kitchen, LLC, All Rights Reserved
Main photo: iStock/841879948