There are certain vegetables -- like green beans and broccoli -- that can either be gorgeous, brightly coloured and perfectly tender-crisp, or sad, dull and soggy. Luckily, making sure they these veggies become their best selves only takes a matter of minutes -- you simply have to blanch them.
Photo by Sam Bithoney.
Blanching is an extremely simple technique wherein vegetables are briefly submerged in boiling water then, once they have reached the desired level of done-ness, plunged into an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Blanching sets the colour and texture of the vegetable, keeping it from sogging out or turning dull.
There are many reasons to blanch plant parts, including:
- Giving carrots, green beans and broccoli that perfect tender-crisp texture to salads and crudite platters
- Partially cooking greens to remove some of that "raw" quality and bitter flavour
- Prepping green beans for an amazing casserole
- Removing bitter or strong flavours from cabbage or onions
- Brightening up green vegetables so they look their best
- Peeling tomatoes, peaches and even almonds and pistachios
- Prepping fruits and vegetables for freezing
- Partially cooking potatoes before frying
To blanch anything, you will need:
- A pot of water
- An ice bath (a bowl or bucket of water with ice in it).
Salt a pot of water and bring it to a boil (covered or uncovered -- it doesn't matter). Cut any larger vegetables like carrots, heads of broccoli, or potatoes into uniform pieces. Submerge your fruit, vegetable, or nut in the boiling water.
If you're blanching tomatoes or peaches for peeling purposes, remove them after 30 seconds and get them into the ice bath. For vegetables, check for done-ness after a minute, then either plunge them into the bath or keep cooking until they are cooked to your liking, tasting every minute or so.
For most vegetables, this will be somewhere in between two and four minutes. Remove almonds and pistachios after one minute and get them into the ice water. Once you've shocked your food with freezing water, remove them and either eat them, store them, peel them, or cook with them however you see fit.