Recipes sometimes call for cooks to blanch fruits or vegetables. While it may sound like an elaborate technique too tricky to attempt at home, all blanching means is to put the item in question in boiling water, lift it out after the prescribed time, and cool it off quickly. In short, it's a handy technique to know.
Blanch in 6 Simple Steps
Prepping the vegetables while the water comes to a boil will keep your time in the kitchen efficient, and not forgetting to have a large bowl of ice water at the ready will keep that produce blanched, not boiled.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. If you are blanching peaches or tomatoes, leave the water plain. For everything else, add enough salt so the water tastes a bit salty. None of this dash-of-salt nonsense when it comes to blanching! A good dose of salt helps the whole process along, maximizing flavor and helping green vegetables stay green!
- Prepare a large bowl of ice water.
- While the water is coming to a boil, rinse, trim, or chop the fruit or vegetable as called for in the recipe.
- Put the items in the boiling water for the prescribed time (usually somewhere between 30 seconds and 2 minutes).
- Drain or lift out the fruits or vegetables and transfer them to the ice water (alternatively, you can lay them out generously spaced on a single layer on clean kitchen towels and let them air-cool or rinse them under cold running water). Swish them around in the water until cool.
- Drain and pat dry or, in the case of spinach and other greens, squeeze the water out of them. If blanching to remove the peel, wait until the fruit or vegetable is cool enough to handle and slip off the skin.
Why Would Anyone Want to Blanch Fruits and Vegetables?
Blanching performs a variety of functions, depending on the fruit or vegetable at hand. A few reasons include:
- To loosen skins for peeling, as in the case of peaches and tomatoes
- To set a bright green color and keep vegetables from turning an unappetizing gray, as with asparagus, greens, peas, or green beans
- To leech out bitterness, especially in hearty cooking greens such as kale, collard greens, and dandelion greens
- To prepare vegetables for freezing
- To parboil items before adding them to a dish. What's the difference between blanching and parboiling? Blanching requires a quick cooling off in an ice water bath that isn't always necessary with parboiling.