Blanching vegetables is often done to preserve their vibrant colors, textures, and nutritional value. The best tips for blanching include using the necessary amounts of water, having all necessary items immediately on hand, and using the proper tools. Blanching is often done before freezing food as well as in restaurants to ensure that the vegetables remain crisp and full of flavor. It is also an easy method of removing the peeling and skins from certain types of vegetables and fruits, such as tomatoes, peaches, and nectarines.
Necessary items needed for blanching include a cooking pot, slotted spoon, metal strainer or wire basket, and a bowl of ice water. It is very important to have these items readily available because the process is performed at a relatively quick speed. Vegetables should also be prepared ahead of time, including trimming stems and bad spots. It is generally advised to cut the vegetables into fairly similar sizes to ensure even cooking.
Using the proper amount of water is vital to the blanching process. If too little water is used, vegetables may not cook evenly, whereas too much water will slow the boiling process when vegetables are added. It is generally recommended to use 1 gallon (3.79 l) of water for every pound (453.59 g) of vegetables. Enough salt should be added to the water to add some flavor. Make certain the water is at a full boil before adding vegetables.
The best time to prepare the bowl of ice water is while the cooking water is heating. This will ensure that the water is as cold as possible when the vegetables are added and the ice has not had time to melt. It is important that the bowl is deep enough to hold the vegetables and allow them to be thoroughly immersed in the ice water. The bowl should be filled approximately a third of the way full with ice. Enough water should be added to just cover the top of the ice and still allow room for the vegetables.
When adding vegetables to the boiling water, it is generally advised to only add small portions at a time in order to ensure the water stays at a constant boil. If a wire basket is used, be certain the water is at a full rolling boil before gently lowering the basket into the water. Vegetables should only be cooked for a short amount of time so that the nutrients and colors are not cooked out of them. After the vegetables have been cooked just enough to be slightly tender while still maintaining crispness, they should be immediately immersed in the ice water for a very brief time. This stops the cooking process and locks in the color, flavor, and nutritional value of the vegetables.