Blanching Brightens Up Veggies

December 30, 2010

One of my favorite cooking techniques is blanching. I’ve mentioned blanching before, but I’ve never fully explained what it is and why I love it so much.

Picture this: You go to a cocktail party and set before you is a vegetable display with dips. There are bright orange carrots, crimson red tomatoes, lemon-yellow peppers, and dull green broccoli. Which one of these doesn’t fit?! This is a perfect example of when blanching can and should be used. The raw state of broccoli (and other green vegetables like string beans and snap peas) is not the most appetizing. Remember – we eat with our eyes too. So how do we correct this? We blanch these green veggies to bring out their brightness.

Blanching literally means “to whiten,” but in cooking it is a technique used to soften food, brighten it, or remove a strong taste from the food. The process of blanching is as follows, demonstrated here with raw broccoli.

blanching raw broccoli
Before: Raw Broccoli

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Plunge raw broccoli florets in the boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute. (As you can see below, the color of the broccoli is now vibrant green – this happened immediately when placed in the boiling water.)

blanching raw broccoli
Broccoli plunged into boiling water

2. Using tongs, remove the broccoli from the water and plunge in a large bowl of ice water. This is known as “shocking” the vegetable, the purpose of which is to stop the cooking.

blanching raw broccoli
“Shocking” broccoli in ice water

3. After a couple of minutes, drain the broccoli and dry off (broccoli holds onto liquid, so squeeze it out!). Transfer to platter to serve.

blanching raw broccoli
After: Blanched Broccoli

Blanching makes quite a difference, don’t you think?! Have you ever blanched food before?

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  1. Thanks for the reminder. Blanching is indeed a fabulous way of cooking veggies. It’s easy to get into the habit of overcooking veggies but not only do you miss the vibrant color, you miss some nutrients as well. Happy New Year, Jessica!

    1. Thanks Trish! I didn’t even get into the nutritional benefits of blanching – but it is definitely a great way to preserve the nutrients. Happy and healthy new year to you too!

  2. Thanks for this tip, Jessica. I almost forgot about this method. I’ve blanched peaches when making my husbands’ fav. peach cobbler. So easy to do! And makes pealing them a breeze.

    Have a happy New Year!

    Lauren : )

    1. Happy I reminded you about it!! Thanks for adding the tip about peeling – it’s definitely good for that too!! Happy and healthy new year!

    1. You are most welcome! I can’t believe you’ve never done it – it’s such a great technique! Happy new year!!

  3. I tried this years ago and it was a disaster! I put the broccoli in boiling for a minute BUT because I failed to immediately plunge it into ice water they were limp and unappealing. Thanks for clarifying what I did wrong!