Blanching is a wonderful technique for producing perfectly cooked, crispy vegetables that retain their color. The method is also useful for aiding in the removal of skins from particular items by softening them in a controlled manner. It’s also used for altering or coaxing unwanted strong flavors out of foods, like in the example of tannins.
The process of blanching is a simple one; you just boil your food in seasoned water to perfection, then pull from the boiling water and put your food in an ice bath to halt the internal cooking process. The cooking time is determined by what you’re cooking, its thickness, and the desired doneness. If you’re unsure of the timing, a tip is to constantly check for doneness by pulling a piece out and throwing it in the ice bath for a bit and giving it a taste. Another potentially useful tip is to bundle your items together with butcher twine; this makes fishing the items out of the boiling water easier, because you have to keep in mind that your food is still cooking while you’re fishing for it. Once the food is in the ice bath don’t forget about it. You only want it in there to stop the cooking process, if left for too long your food can become waterlogged.
During the boiling portion of the blanching process, surface microorganisims are killed. The high heat produced halts the natural enzymatic processes occurring within food that lead to spoilage, prolonging freshness. The rapid cooling immediately stops the cooking process aiding with the retention of nutrients, all while promoting a more vibrant color.
Blanching is a great technique if you’re serving something for a cold preparation, or fantastic as a partial cooking step for something that’s going to be finished off later in another cooking process. However you decide to use the technique, it’s a kitchen essential for producing wonderful food.