The method of plunging fruit or vegetables into boiling water until fully or partially cooked, and then immediately plunging them in ice water to halt the cooking process (commonly referred to as "shocking").
There are several reasons why you may need to blanch fruit, vegetables or nuts, and those reasons will determine to what degree the foods are cooked in the boiling water. If you just want to remove the skins from peaches, plums, almonds or tomatoes, you only need boil them for 15-20 seconds before shocking. They barely cook at all. Whereas professional cooks blanch a great deal of their vegetable prep until a shade from fully cooked, then hold it cold in their mise en place, ready to be used in sautes, sauces or "marked" on a grill, without having to wait for them to cook through. The fast timing also helps prevent overcooking and dulling the color of green vegetables. Blanching is also a good method to prepare fruits and vegetables for freezing.
To blanch foods, drop them in a pot of rapidly boiling water and boil for about 10-60 seconds (depending on the food and the purpose). Remove the foods from the boiling water with a slotted spoon or hand strainer, and drop them in ice water to stop them from cooking. Once the blanched ingredients are cool, remove them from the ice water to an appropriate container.
- Add some salt to boiling water when blanching green vegetables to help retain a bright green color.
- Always blanch in small batches so the water temperature stays at a boil or only requires minimal time to regain a boil.
- Nutrients escape quickly in boiling water, so stay attentive and test for doneness often.
- Spiders, skimmers or hand strainers can safely and quickly lift foods from the boiling water and then dunk them into your ice water.
- Have your ice bath at the ready! You want to stop the cooking process as soon after foods reach the desired doneness as possible.
- Blanching also causes the fruits and vegetables to shrink, making them easier to can or freeze.
To Blanch Vegetables for Freezing:
Blanching vegetables for freezing, and not to remove the skins, requires longer blanch times in the boiling water. The benefit to blanching your vegetables before freezing them is to trap in all those great healthy nutrients and prevent the vegetables from losing the their color and flavor while frozen. The following chart is courtesy of Ohio State University and illustrates blanching times for a variety of vegetables. All blanching times are for boiling water. After blanching, cool promptly in cold water and drain, unless otherwise noted.
|Vegetable||Preparation||Boiling Water Blanch Times|
|Asparagus||Leave whole or cut into 2" lengths||Sm. Stalks = 2 |
Med. Stalks = 3
Lg. Stalks = 4
|Beans (podded)||Snip tips and sort by size||3|
|Beans (fresh lima)||Shell and sort||Sm. Beans = 2 |
Med. Beans = 3
Lg. Beans = 4
|Beets||Remove all but 2" of top.|
|Sm. Beets = Cook tender 25-30 |
Med. Beets = Cook tender 45-50
Chill and remove skins.
|Broccoli/Cauliflower||Trim. Separate into individual pieces.|
Cut broccoli stalks lengthwise.
Soak for 1/2 hr. in salt brine to drive out insects.
Rinse and drain.
|Brussels Sprouts||Trim. Soak 1/2 hr. in salt brine.|
Rinse and drain.
|Sm. Heads = 3|
Med. Heads = 4
Lg. Heads = 5
|Cabbage||Discard coarse outer leaves.|
Cut into wedges or shred coarsely.
|Wedges = 3|
Shredded = 1 1/2
|Carrots||Trim and scrape.|
Dice or slice 1/4" thick.
|Cut Carrots = 3|
Whole Carrots = 5
(on the cobb)
|Husk, remove silk and trim ends.||Sm. Ears(1 1/4" diam.) = 7|
Med. Ears(1 1/4-1 1/2") = 9
Lg. Ears(over 1 1/2") = 11
Chill in ice water for as long as it takes to blanch or corn may become mushy.
|Husk, remove silk and trim ends.||Sm. Ears = 4|
Med. Ears = 5
Lg. Ears = 6
Chill. Cut from cob.
|Kohlrabi||Cut off tops and roots.|
Wash and peel bark.
Wash and slice 1/4" thick
dice into 1/2" cubes
or leave whole.
|Cubes = 1|
Slices = 2
Whole = 3
|Mushrooms||Trim ends, sort by size.|
Freeze small whole, larger ones, sliced.
To prevent discoloration
use 3 tsp. lemon juice
to 1 qt. water when blanching.
|Whole = 4|
Sliced = 3
|Okra||Cut off stems without opening seed cells.||Sm. Pods = 3|
Lg. Pods = 4
(Green, English, Black-Eyed)
|Shell small amounts at a time.||Green/English = 1 1/2|
Black-Eyed = 2
(Edible pod, Sugar, Chinese)
|Remove stems, blossom ends, and any string.|
|Sm. Pods = 1 1/2|
Lg. Pods = 2
|Remove stem and seeds.|
Halve, chop, or cut into 1/2" rings or strips.
May be frozen without blanching.
|Halves = 3|
Strips/Rings = 2
|Wash and peel or scrub.||3-5 Min. depending on size.|
|Choose potatoes that have been cured for at least 1 week.|
Sort to size and wash.
|Cook until almost tender.|
Cool at room temp., peel and cut into halves, slice, or mash.
|Remove damaged leaves and tough stems.||Collards = 3|
Other = 2
|Summer Squash and|
|Peel, cut into 1/2" slices||3|
|Wash.||Dip for 30 seconds.|
|Wash, sort, drain.|
Cut into quarters.
|Simmer 5-10 min.|
Press through sieve.
|Prepare as in juice.||Cover and cook until tender|
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