Food Friday: Blanch

15 07 2011

No, no… not that Southern girl. Blanch, as in, boiling something quickly.

Anybody else out there sort of get a little nervous when a recipe calls for vegetables to be blanched? Well, I do. First of all, I instantly know I’m dirtying two or three pans. And then, if I’m really being honest, I wasn’t really quite sure what I was doing. I mean, how long is a short boil? Do I really have to put it in ice? But these questions are really just excuses. So I just recently decided to do something about it and figure it out! After all, a Southern girl or guy should know the way around the kitchen.

And we’re here to pass along all our best tips to you, Sweet Iced Tea readers.

  • It’s not just vegetables that can be blanched. You can do beans, nuts, fruit, even meat! All it really takes is boiling quickly, then just the second it’s cooked enough, removing the fruit or veggie and placing it in cold water to stop the cooking process. What blanching will do is to firm the flesh, but loosen the skin. You’ll get a nice bright color and high flavor.
  • Turns out, there’s really no need to dirty a third pan and waste time dumping ice in. Just get that hot water boiling in your pot, stick your vegetables down in the boiling water in a colander, and then you can just lift the veggies out, in the colander, and straight under some cool running water from the tap. All we’re trying to do here is stop the cooking process so they’re soft but crisp and mild and tasty, so as long as your water is running cold, it should do the trick.
  • And the big question — how long do I blanch? Well, for most veggies, nuts, whatever you got, 30 seconds of boiling should do the trick. Now, no more excuses that it’s too much trouble. What else can we do in 30 seconds??
  • Blanching is great for something like asparagus. Ever had soggy asparagus? Nothing’s worse! So blanching keeps it crisp after cooking. What else could you blanch? Green beans are great, because they soften, but stay fresh tasting. Tomatoes, cabbage, onions, potatoes or anything you want to remove the bite of strong flavor, but leave raw enough to have some taste in them. (I know, I know… cooking veggies within an inch of their life is a Southern tradition. But, think of all those good for us nutrients we’ll get by blanching sometimes.) For dessert, some yummy fruits and nuts to consider might be berries, persimmons, grapes, peaches, pistachios, almonds.
  • Want to get real lazy? Or just too hot to stand even for 30 seconds over stove? Well, microwave-blanch that food. Cover and cook with enough water to cover the bottom of the dish for 2-3 minutes per pound you’re cooking. Immediately transfer to cold water just as soon as that beeper goes off (yes, that means standing by the microwave, but you can do jumping jacks while you’re there to feel extra good about yourself).

Now get to blanching some nice, crisp veggies for your weekend salads. And come back on Monday, for a continuation of our second annual Southern Music Week. There were just too many good bands to leave any off our Southern summer playlist!

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2 responses

22 07 2011
Food Friday: Garlic « Sweet Iced Tea

[…] covering with a dishtowel and pressing down with a heavy pot. Then drop into boiling water and blanch for 30 seconds before rinsing it in a colander to make it easier to peel. Or, microwave that […]

29 08 2011
Food Friday: Microwave Cooking « Sweet Iced Tea

[…] It’s one of the most valuable “tools” in the kitchen. You can defrost, warm, blanch, soften, melt, open (think coconuts and oysters), loosen skins, dry, juice, dissolve, toast, […]

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