To blanch or not to blanch … that is the question
What is blanching? Blanching is a cooking process in which a food, usually a vegetable, is briefly cooked in boiling water before being removed and plunged into a bowl of iced water to halt the cooking process. So, why would you blanch vegetables and what purpose does it serve?
Blanching is a must before freezing fruit or vegetables as it helps preserve colour, flavour and texture by slowing down (or halting) the enzyme process that naturally breaks down vegetables and fruit.
As it only partially cooks veggies, blanching is a great way to serve vegetables on a platter by keeping them bright, colourful and visually appealing. It’s also a great way to speed up the process of cooking vegetables before grilling, stir-frying or sauteing.
Other benefits of blanching:
· Blanching cleans the surfaces of fruit and veg by removing any trapped dirt.
· Blanching aids in reducing bitterness in vegetables like cabbage
· Blanching fruits like tomatoes and peaches makes it easier to peel the skin from the flesh
So, which fruits and vegetables are best blanched?
· Brussels sprouts
· Sugar snap peas
How to blanch:
1. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil
2. Ensure your vegetables are cut into equal sized pieces for even blanching
3. Add vegetables or fruit to the boiling water, blanching time varies but is usually around 3 to 5 minutes. Vegetables should be tender but still crisp and with a vibrant colour.
4. Set aside a bowl/vessel of iced water (including ice)
5. Remove vegetables/fruit from the boiling water and immediately plunge into iced water to stop the cooking process
· Blanched vegetables can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Add a piece of damp paper towel on top of the fruit or vegetables for best results.
· Blanched veggies can be frozen for up to 6 months. Freeze them on a baking tray before transferring to an airtight container or freezer bag.