One skill every Home Cook should have in their back pocket is to know how to Blanch and Shock Vegetables. Why? Well, let me give you this example. If you put out a vegetable tray, after all the other vegetables are long gone, which poor vegetable will remain every time? Yep. The drab, raw broccoli…but I don’t think this says anything about broccoli. Personally, I love broccoli. It’s actually my favorite vegetable…but let’s be honest, there is nothing less tasty than raw, uncooked broccoli. I will leave it on the veggie tray every time.
You could actually use this a little bit of a party trick…next time you go to a party where there is a vegetable tray with raw broccoli, take bets on which veggie will be the last to go.
So how do we fix that? Blanching and Shocking! That’s right…Shock the Broc! And many other vegetables too.
Blanching is a process whereby you boil or steam vegetables for a short time until they reach the level of doneness you desire. This will also help to stop vitamin loss and bring out the vivid color of the vegetables. Shocking is when you place those boiled or steamed vegetables immediately in an ice water bath, halting the cooking process and keeping the vegetables at the level of doneness you desire. This will also help to retain that bright color of the vegetables…which is perfect when you’re making a vegetable tray.
But blanching and shocking vegetables are not just for making veggie trays more appetizing. Nope. You can use this techniques for a variety of things, like making salads, pasta dishes, sushi, a stir-fry or even if you want to make your own frozen vegetables. Truly, the possibilities are endless.
The process of blanching is very easy:
- Bring a pot of water up to a boil.
- Add a touch of salt. This is optional, but I generally recommend it as it helps to bring out the flavor of the vegetables.
- Prepare an ice bath. It’s exactly what it sounds like…you combine water and ice in a large bowl….creating a little bath of ice and water. You want enough ice that the water is ice-cold and you still have a lot of ice cubes in the water. You want enough water that when you add the veggies, they will be completely submerged.
- Add vegetables to the boiling water and cook ‘em.
- When they reach the level of doneness that you want (depending on what you’re using them for), remove the vegetables from the boiling water and place immediately in the ice bath.
A good rule of thumb is to keep the vegetables in the ice batch for about same amount of time that you boiled them. So if you’re making broccoli for a vegetable tray, for example about 2 minutes will be perfect. Thus, keep the broccoli in the ice bath for about two minutes. It’s not an exact science so if you keep them in the ice water bath for a bit longer, no harm, no foul.
Also, it’s good to work in small batches. This helps to keep the hot water hot and the cold water cold…which makes for better blanching and shocking.
So give it a try…and buy some extra broccoli. It’s gonna start disappearing from your vegetable trays!