The How and Why to Blanch Vegetables
We love to eat lots of vibrant, colorful vegetables as a large part of a healthy diet, and we want to get the most nutrition from our produce. Some active nutrients in vegetables are more readily available when cooked, Others are more prevalent when foods are eaten raw. Blanching is one technique for cooking those veggies that are more nutrient available when cooked, like asparagus, green beans, kale, and carrots.
If not cooked properly, many of the nutrients from vegetables can get leached during cooking. The key is to not cook vegetables for too long, and with too much water. If you cook vegetables gently and without a great deal of water, you will help protect the water-soluble vitamins. Blanching your veggies, which is when you quickly cook vegetables in boiling water, and remove them when they're still very crisp, helps preserve the color and nutrients.
Have you tried blanching? Check out our fun, informative infographic and learn more below about this cooking technique.
What is Blanching?
Blanching is a process where food is placed into boiling water (or steam) for a brief period and then quickly placed in ice water to prevent it from cooking all the way through.
The amount of time needed to blanch different vegetables varies. It is important not to overcook a vegetable because over-blanching leads to a loss of flavor, color and nutrients. If you are planning to freeze the blanched veggies, under-blanching can increase enzyme activity that compromises the quality of the veggies. Check our infographic for the appropriate blanching times of some common veggies.
Here are a few reasons to blanch vegetables:
- Blanching stops enzyme activity, which cause the loss of flavor, color and texture of the fresh produce.
- Blanching helps minimize the loss of nutrients.
· Blanching helps cleanse the surface of dirt and some bacteria.
- Blanching will denature certain enzymes in vegetables that make them bitter.
- Many green vegetables turn a brighter green color when blanched. This makes for a prettier, more appealing dish.
- Blanching shortens cooking time by partially cooking the vegetables, so they won’t need to be cooked for as long later.
How do you Blanch Vegetables?
The basic technique of blanching with boiling water is this:
- Boil a large pot of water.
- Before blanching, wash vegetables and remove the peels or skins if desired. If you plan on freezing your vegetables sliced, chopped or cut, do this before blanching.
- Drop the vegetables into the boiling water. The water should return to boiling within a minute of adding the vegetables. As soon as water returns to a boil, the blanching countdown begins.
- Use a timer to make sure you take the vegetables out after the blanching time. Remove the vegetables quickly.
- Plunge the vegetables immediate into cold or ice water. Vegetables should be cooled quickly and thoroughly to stop the cooking process immediately after blanching.
- Drain vegetables in a colander after they’ve cooled and lay flat on a clean towel to let them fully dry if you are planning to freeze them. Extra moisture can reduce quality when vegetables are frozen.
Take a look at our Blanching video - https://www.nourishinggenerations.org/?wix-vod-video-id=730bd01898c84b2b9410d514e1879f32&wix-vod-comp-id=comp-kdl5hg7v - for a quick blanching tutorial to see how easy it is! No matter how you cook them - steamed, sautéed, stir-fried, blanched, or raw - the important thing is to EAT MORE VEGGIES!