Cooking Class 101: Blanching

Like these green beans I’m making, Blanche Devereaux finds herself in hot water more often than not.

Welcome back to cooking class 101. Let’s talk about Blanche!
Or rather, blanching. Blanching a vegetable, sadly, is not nearly as entertaining as an episode of The Golden Girls, but it is a technique that is simple and extremely helpful in the kitchen. Blanching is the technique of quickly cooking something in boiling water and then immediately plunging it into an ice bath when they are just cooked. This may sound like some strange form of vegetable torture, but this technique allows you to cook your vegetables to the perfect point of doneness and then stop any further cooking (and wilting) that may occur post-boiling due residual heat left in the vegetable.

This may seem like a lot of trouble to go to just to cook a few green beans, but it can actually be a huge time saver in the kitchen and helps guard against the ever present threat of an overcooked vegetable. I like blanched vegetables just on their own or in a salad, but my favorite way to use this technique is to cut down the cooking times for vegetables. For example, if I’m going to make a quick stir fry, curry, or even just sauté some vegetables for a weeknight meal, I will blanche my veggies ahead of time so that all I have to do is warm them up in a sauté pan for a minute or two before serving. This drastically cuts down cook times and makes sure that I eat a vegetable every now and again. Yay, Vitamins!

What You Will Need:

  • 1 large pot boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1 large bowl full of ice water (aka your ice bath)
  • tongs or a spider skimmer or a large spoon with a bunch of holes in it.
  • Colander
  • Vegetable of your choice (I used green beans)

The Process:

1) Set your pot of water to boil on medium-high heat. When the water comes to a rolling boil add your salt (always add salt to a pot of water after it starts to boil. Salt water has a higher boiling point than plain water and, therefore, will take longer to come to a boil).

Carefully taking the green beans of the boiling water

2) Place your vegetable of choice in the boiling water and boil until barely cooked through and tender. You want the al dente (they should have just a hint of crunch left to them).

Veggies are now cooling in the ice bath. Im using my tongs to rotate them for even cooling

3) When the vegetable is done, using your tongs or a spider skimmer, immediately place the vegetables in the ice bath to stop the cooking. I will often use the tongs or even my hands to stir and rotate the vegetables around so that all of the vegetables cool evenly.

4) When the vegetables have cooled down to at least room temperature, drain them using a colander. I also like to pat my vegetables after they are done with a paper towel to make sure they are extra dry (no one like soggy vegetables).

5) Serve with a bit of salt or toss them in a salad. You can also throw them very quickly into a sauté pan with olive oil, garlic, and salt.

I will store blanched vegetables like asparagus and green beans in wrapped in a few paper towels and stored in a Ziploc bag in the fridge. They last for around 3-4 days.*

Veggies I like to Blanche: I typically blanche green spring vegetables, or even a tomato in order to remove the skin

  • Green beans- boil 1-2 minutes
  • Hardy Greens like Rapini or Chard: boil 1-2 minutes
  • Broccoli /Broccolini: boil 2-3 minutes
  • Asparagus-boil for 1-2 minutes
  • Tomatoes for peeling: gently cut a shallow  “X” onto the bottom of the tomato. Boil for 1-2 minutes, then submerge in the ice bath. Start peeling the skin around the “X” Voila!

I received no money or food for writing this post. Nothing. Absolutely Nothing.

* Always double check food to make sure it hasn’t gone bad before eating it. I am not a trained doctor. I am a lady on the internet. The storage times I give you are from my own personal experience and not science. So take my advice with a grain of salt and keep reading my blog please!

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