“Blanching” is a technique that you might often come across in recipes. Essentially, it means placing fruit or vegetables in a pan of boiling water for a set amount of time, removing, and cooling quickly. As a technique, it is used for a number of things- loosening skins, partial cooking before adding to dishes, maintaining colour and flavour and crucially, preparing fruit and vegetables for freezing.
Freezing your fresh fruit and vegetables is a great way to preserve their useable life and reducing waste if you don’t have the opportunity to use them before they naturally go off. But before you put your fruit and veg in the freezer, they need to be blanched. Freezing alone damages the flesh of fruit and vegetables, creating dark patches and altering the texture and flavour.
Fortunately, a good blanching technique is easy to learn, and once mastered, can be used in a number of recipes as well as in helping to preserve fresh fruit and vegetables.
To blanch fruit or vegetables before freezing:
Bring a pot of water to the boil, adding a generous amount of salt
Fill a bowl of a similar size with cold water and ice
Prepare the vegetables. Chop to the desired size and keep all pieces a similar size to ensure even blanching. Reduce the chance of oxidisation by leaving the preparation until just before blanching
Add the vegetables to the boiling water. If you plan on blanching a large amount, add in small batches. Be careful if you are blanching fruit and vegetables of varying colour. Darker coloured produce will tint the water and any produce to follow, so leave these til last
Test the vegetables every 30 seconds. Remove a piece, cool in the iced water and taste. Most vegetables will take between 2 and 5 minutes.
When ready, use a slotted spoon to remove the vegetables from the water and quickly add to the iced water to end the cooking process.
When fully cooled down, remove the vegetables and allow to drain on a towel or kitchen roll
Blanching is a useful technique in cooking, but if you are trying to make your fruit and vegetables last for weeks or even months, blanching is vital in order to allow you to freeze them effectively, locking in their nutrients and their flavour.
Image sourced: Bjorn Appeltagscooking techniqueszero waste