Blanching Cooking Method

History of blanching

Blanching was originated and can be traced back to the era when boiling was introduced because blanching is considered a sub-method of boiling. It is said so because all the blanched dishes are gone through boiling for once. A French chef and confectioner ‘Nicolas Appert’ invented the preservation techniques of food items in 1809. He worked on the preservation techniques of food in response to his government for the use of techniques for army and navy.

What is Blanching in Cooking?

Blanching is a food preservation trick for the retention of color, texture, flavor, and nutritional content while keeping the outer surface soft and giving the inner surface a little crisp. This process lessens the natural loss and is specially made for perishable foods like fruits and vegetables. The blanching process stops the enzymatic reactions that take place within the fruits and vegetables and help to preserve them for a longer time. Blanching is mostly done as a former treatment of canning, freezing, or drying of vegetables and fruits.

mashed avocado toasts with blanched vegetables on slices of whole bread

In the process of blanching, the complete immersion of fruits and vegetables is done within high simmering water for a few minutes and then placed in an ice bath to instantly cool them. The typical timing of blanching the food is about 30-60 seconds while the time duration may vary upon the type of vegetable or fruit. Moreover, over-blanching may be a cause of flavor, color, and nutrient loss of food items. There are three major steps in the blanching process.

  1. Preheating
  2. Blanching
  3. Cooling

Ways of Blanching fruits and vegetables

Several blanching ways have been applied to preserve the food and each method if simple and easy to execute. Here a few ways to blanch the fruits and veggies.

Water Blanching

Using water blanching process, the fruits and vegetables are dipped in a pan containing high simmering water that is covered with a lid and then allowed to simmer for a short time. As soon as the food items are removed from the boiling water, they are then added in an ice bath for rapid cooling that stops the enzymatic reactions.

Steam Blanching

In steam blanching, the food items are kept above the boiling water in a pot where there is no contact between the foodstuff and the water. The lid of the pot is closed, and the steam produced by the boiling water is used to blanch them briefly. They are then removed and carried to instant cooling.

Which Foods are Blanched?

  • Frozen foods are blanched as it neutralizes the microbes present within the food that may cause spoilage.
  • Blanching is very suitable for the foods especially green vegetables whose color, texture, and flavor are required to be maintained.
  • Blanching is required for the dishes which require a very short time to cook.
Bunch of raw vegetables suitable for blanching

Examples of blanched foods

Several food recipes are made while blanching the fruits and vegetables to seal their flavor and quality. Here are a few blanched food recipe names:

  • Seasoned blanched Kale
  • Honeyed blanched cabbage
  • Almond cookies from blanched almonds
  • Spanish-Style Florida Shrimp
  • Arugula Pesto
  • Chinese style green vegetables
  • Blanched Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce
  • Blanched chili garlic Bok choy recipe
  • Chinese garlic oil lettuce
  • Blanched baby spinach with sesame sauce
  • Garlic green beans

Honeyed blanched cabbage recipe

Honey blanched cabbage is a very suitable technique to keep the color, texture, and every bit of the cabbage ravishing. Here is a perfect recipe to cook a blanched cabbage glazed with the sweetness of honey.

Ingredients

550 g fresh cabbage

25 g salted butter

1½ teaspoon caraway seeds

1 tablespoon honey 15 g chopped pistachios (optional)

Honeyed blanched cabbage in a bowl

Steps to follow:

  1. Take a large pan poured with some salted water and let it boil.
  2. Cut the base of the cabbage and slice it into pieces of almost 1inch.
  3. Add the slices of the cabbage to the pan of boiling water and let it simmer for about 1-2 minutes.
  4. Remove the cabbage from the boiling water and drain out its hot water.
  5. Take another large boil containing ice cubes/ ice water and instantly add the cabbage to it.
  6. Leave the cabbage in the ice bath for a few minutes, drain out the water well, and then dry the cabbage with the paper towel
  7. Prepare the honey glaze in a frying pan while melting the butter and adding caraway seeds to it. Let them roast for a minute. Afterward, add the honey and the seasonings in it and mix them well.
  8. Add the blanched cabbage in the honey and mix it well.
  9. Transfer the honey blanched cabbage in a serving tray and then garnish it with pistachios.
  10. You may garnish it with the nuts of your choice.
  11. A perfect fusion of flavored cabbage with honey is ready to serve.

Pros blanching the food

Blanching of fruits and vegetables has a lot of appealing benefits while improving nutritional desirability. Here are few listed pros of considering blanching as a pre-treatment to food:

  • Blanching helps to loosen the skin of fruits and vegetables and assist to peel them easily.
  • Blanching helps the frozen foods to retain the qualitative features when used or cooked later.
  • Blanching softens the vegetables and helps cooking the food faster over high heat without applying extra energy.
  • Blanched vegetables are cooked to be more tender and crispier than usually cooked vegetables.
  • A major advantage of blanching is that it kills the microbes or bacteria present within the food or on the surface of the food.
  • All the dirt present in the food is swept away while blanching.
  • Blanching is also performed while making the chicken stock in which the bones are blanched to get rid of any impurities.
  • Blanching the almonds to remove their skin before making marzipan is an essential step.
  • Avocados turn out brown due to their long exposure therefore, blanching helps them to retain their features.
  • While making French fries, the blanching of potatoes is performed to make them moist from inside and crispy from outside.
  • Blanching also helps to clear out the bitterness of a few vegetables like onions, cabbage, and the green leafy.

Cons of blanching the food

Despite having abundant benefits, it shows the following drawbacks towards the food items.

  • Blanching itself is not a cooking process, rather it needs some other cooking process to cook the food on either side.
  • Blanching cannot be done on every sort of food. It is specialized only for fruits and vegetables.
  • Blanching the food drains out the essential vitamins and minerals from the food. The water-soluble substances, for instance, proteins and flavor compounds may be lost easily during the blanching process.
  • Blanching diffuses the food within the boiling water and is capable to decrease the quality of food.
  • Water blanching produces the effluents that need a proper disposal system therefore, water blanching is a complicated process in the food industry. 
  • Using the blanch water for more than one time can be hazardous to health as it contains a buildup of leached out water-soluble compounds.
  • The brief time of blanching is considered insufficient to destroy all the microbes present within the food.

Evolution in the blanching equipment

Blanching equipment is being evolved with the introduction of innovative technology. The two most widely used blanching techniques involve the usage of convectional steam blanchers that utilize saturated steam and convectional hot water blanchers that require simmering water to blanching the food. Commercially, ‘basket type food blanching machines’ are used in the industries to undertake blanching procedures on a large scale.

Moreover, microwave blanchers have been introduced for instant blanching in heating ovens while gas fuel blanchers are also used at certain places. With the advancement of new and emerging technologies, various kinds of blanching have been developed like:

  • Ohmic Blanching
  • Electromagnetic/ infrared Blanching
  • Microwave oven Blanching
  • Radio Frequency Blanching
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