Blanching is the process of scalding vegetables in boiling or steaming water for a short time and then rapidly cooling them in an ice bath. Blanching helps retain the flavor, color and texture of vegetables that you plan to freeze or are designed to be eaten cooked but cooled as in a salad.
Basic Blanching Method:
Place water in a large pot and bring it to a rolling boil. Use a gallon of water per pound of vegetables, or approximately 2 cups of prepared vegetables.
Clean and cut vegetables as needed.
Prepare an ice bath. An ice bath is a large container filled with about the same ratio of water to ice.
Place vegetables in a wire basket or the perforated blancher insert and immerse in boiling water. The water should return to a boil within one minute. If it takes longer to boil, vegetables will taste soggy. Cook in batches to avoid overcrowding.
Cover and start counting blanching time as soon as water returns to a boil.
Keep on high heat for the time given in the directions; see below.
Cool immediately in ice water for the same time used in blanching (corn-on-the-cob takes twice as long). Stir vegetables gently several times in the ice water bath during cooling so they cool evenly.
Drain vegetables thoroughly.
Blanching times for items you may find at Peachtree Road Farmers Market:
Vegetable Blanching time (minutes)
Asparagus – small stalk (pencil width) - 2
Asparagus – medium stalk (permanent marker) - 3
Asparagus – large stalk (kid’s marker) - 4
Beans – snap, green, or wax - 3
Broccoli florets 1 ½ inches across - 3
Broccoli florets – (steamed) - 5
Brussels sprouts – small heads - 3
Brussels sprouts – medium heads - 4
Brussels sprouts – large heads - 5
Cabbage or Chinese cabbage – shredded - 1 ½
Cabbage or Chinese cabbage – wedges - 3
Carrots – small, whole - 5
Carrots – diced, sliced, or lengthwise strips - 2
Cauliflower (flowerets, 1 inch across) - 3
Celery - 3
Corn-on-the-cob – small ears* - 7
Corn-on-the-cob – medium ears * - 9
Corn-on-the-cob – large ears* - 11
Corn – whole kernel or cream style (ears blanched before cutting corn from the cob) – 4
Eggplant - 4
Greens – collards – 3
Greens – all other- 2
Kohlrabi – whole - 3
Kohlrabi – cubes - 1
Mushrooms – whole (steamed) - 9
Mushrooms – buttons or quarters (steamed) - 9
Mushrooms – slices (steamed) - 5
Okra – small pods - 3
Okra – large pods - 4
Onions (blanch until center is heated) - 3 to 7
Onion rings - 10 to 15 seconds
Parsnips - 3
Peas – edible pod - 2 to 3
Peas – green - 1 ½ - 2 ½
Peppers, sweet – strips or rings - 3
Potatoes – Irish (new) - 3 to 5
Rutabagas - 3
Turnips - 3
* Cooling time for corn-on-the-cob is twice the time of blanching.
Tips and Tricks:
Start an ice bath before you put the vegetables in the boiling water.
Keep an eye on the color of your vegetables, if they start to change dramatically, cool them immediately.
A properly blanched vegetable is brightly colored all the way through, when sliced with a knife. It can be helpful to try a small amount of product first, just as a trial to measure appropriate cook times.
This preparation is helpful if you wish to preserve your farm-fresh veggies by freezing methods. (Check the freezing methodology here.)