Blanching is an important step when preserving foods by means of freezing.
You may also want to simply blanch certain foods before consuming, such as when preparing stinging nettle (to remove the stinging properties).
Blanching stops enzyme actions that can cause loss of flavor, color and texture. It also cleanses the surface of dirt and organisms, brightens the color and helps put a pause on the loss of vitamins. It also wilts or softens vegetables and makes them easier to store, making it easier to store more in a smaller space.
The most common way to heat all vegetables is in boiling water. The biggest downside to water blanching is that more nutrients will be lost when the vegetables or fruit is fully submerged in the water.
Follow these steps:
- Use a blancher which has a blanching basket and cover, or fit a wire basket into a large pot with a lid. Use one gallon of water per pound of prepared vegetables.
- Put the vegetable in a blanching basket and lower into vigorously boiling water.
- Place a lid on the blancher. The water should return to boiling within 1 minute, or you are using too much vegetable for the amount of boiling water.
- Start counting blanching time as soon as the water returns to a boil.
- Keep the heat high for the proper amount of time (which varies depending on what plant you are freezing)
Heating in steam, as opposed to immersing in water, is recommended for a few vegetables.
- Use a pot with a tight lid and a basket that holds the food at least three inches above the bottom of the pot (I use and recommend this one!)
- Put an inch or two of water in the pot and bring the water to a boil.
- Put the vegetables in the basket in a single layer so that steam reaches all parts quickly.
- Cover the pot and keep heat high. Start counting steaming time as soon as the lid is on. Keep in mind that it takes about 1½ times longer than water blanching.
As soon as you finish blanching herbs/vegetables, they should be cooled quickly and thoroughly to stop the cooking process. This is how I recommend cooling them:
- Plunge the basket of vegetables immediately into a large quantity of cold water, 60ºF or below.
- Change water frequently or use cold running water or ice water. If ice is used, about one pound of ice for each pound of vegetable is needed. Cooling vegetables should take the same amount of time as blanching.
- Finally, drain the vegetables thoroughly. Some may even desire to do some patting dry. Excess moisture can cause a loss of quality when vegetables are frozen.
How Long Should I Blanch Food?
Crucial and variable, underblanching stimulates the activity of enzymes and is worse than no blanching.
Overblanching causes loss of flavor, color, vitamins and minerals.
It’s best to do a quick search about the specific food you’re looking to blanch, and compare a few of the answers to make sure you’ve found the right time, especially when planning to blanch uncommon wild edibles.
To read more about freezing foods and other preservation techniques, click here!
Thanks for reading! If you have any questions or found this article helpful, please let me know in the comments!
Want to learn more?
- How to blanch wild garlic – a wonderful quick and easy Great British Chef article
- Blanching greens for year-round use – lovely Lynne details the process of preserving your greens by means of blanching and making the best use of them year-round. I highly recommend this wonderful article
Do YOU have any special tricks up your sleeve when it comes to preserving your wild foods? Share in the comments below!