Blanching…how, when and why do we blanch? All great questions that are often asked in my cooking classes. Here is the skinny…
Blanching is the art of par-cooking something that needs a head-start. For example, we blanch asparagus before sautéing so that we can start the cooking process allowing it to continue cooking in the skillet or sauté pan with whatever finishing touches we are looking for. Blanching in itself doesn’t impart flavor but it allows you a head-start so time in the skillet or sauté pan is only spent developing color and flavor.
Depending on what you are blanching, mostly going by density and size, blanching times will vary. Green beans, spinach and asparagus all have varying cooking times so it’s important to use visual queue more than cooking times. To properly blanch, water should be heavily salted and boiling before the product is added. Give the contents a quick stir after being added to ensure they are fully submerged. Once the contents have intensified in color (as in brighter) and they still have a slight bite without being mushy or wilted looking, quickly strain and submerge them in an ice batch to shock and stop the cooking process. Once the water and vegetables are cold to the touch, remove and thoroughly dry them before further cooking as desired.
For a general rule of thumb, green beans take around 4 minutes where spinach or basil take 20 seconds so be mindful of the product at hand by using visual queues and texture as your leading indicator for doneness.
Cheers to starting a new tradition around the table together!
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