Blanching as a Precursor

Blanching as a Precursor

 A method of partially cooking ingredients in boiling water, blanching is usually done as a precursor to some later preparation. Peaches, tomatoes and almonds are blanched in preparation for peeling, broccoli, green beans, and cauliflower are sometimes blanched to soften their fibers before baking, frying or sautéing. Blanching is often used to heighten and set the color and flavor of vegetables, usually before freezing or before serving in salads or as crudités.

To blanch, bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the food to the water and boil about 30 seconds for most foods. Remove the food from the pot and immediately plunge it into ice water to stop the cooking process. Note that some vegetables, such as asparagus and broccoli, can suffer in an ice water bath. To preserve their flavor and texture, spread them out in a single layer and let them cool to room temperature. If needed to blanch a large amount of food, blanch in batches. Too much food will bring the boiling water to a halt and slow cook rather than blanch the vegetables.

In order to blanch faster, use a pot with a pasta insert, or use a steamer basket. This makes it much easier to retrieve blanched ingredients from the boiling water and plunge them into ice water to stop their cooking.

Fascinating Fact :

Blanching is also a horticultural term for a labor-intensive technique in which the leaves of plants are not permitted to photosynthesize and turn green, by growing them in complete darkness. Belgian endive is grown in this manner.

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