Blanching allows vegetables to retain fresh color and texture but take on the flavor of cooking. Blanched vegetables are popular in salads, crudite, pasta dishes, and even sushi. Vegetables can also be blanched before freezing to preserve nutrients and flavor.
1. Fill a large bowl with ice water (ice bath) and set it on the counter, near the stovetop. Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a full boil over high heat.
2. Prepare vegetables by washing and peeling, if needed, and cut them into pieces of equal size. To blanch asparagus as shown, trim off the tough ends (roughly the bottom third of each spear).
3. Gently lower the vegetables into the boiling water. (If blanching several varieties, blanch in batches, one variety at a time.) After 30 seconds of boiling, transfer a test vegetable to the ice bath with a slotted spoon or wok skimmer and use a fork to see if it is tender-crisp. If it is not done to your liking, continue to boil. Most vegetables will become tender-crisp in 2 to 4 minutes depending on size, so continue to test throughout.
4. When the vegetables have reached the desired tenderness, transfer to the ice bath using a slotted spoon or tongs. This stops the vegetables from cooking. Leave until completely cool, about 5 minutes, before straining off the water.
5. Spread on a clean cloth to blot away excess moisture and then arrange attractively on a serving platter for a crudite. Blanched vegetables can also be spread on a baking sheet and frozen individually before putting in a sealed freezer bag or container.
Originally published in Organic Gardening Magazine, Oct/Nov 2013