Blanching and shocking isn’t a technique people spend a lot of time talking about. It’s not as glamorous as sautéing or searing, but it’s a handy cooking skill to have in your arsenal. Blanching and shocking gives you perfectly cooked, gorgeous veggies that you can use in salads, crudité platters, pasta dishes, and all your other favorite meals. With a little know-how and a few easy steps, you’ll be using this simple cooking skill to make everyday meals easier and more delicious.
What is Blanching and Shocking?
Blanching is really just boiling vegetables until they’re cooked (or partially cooked, depending on what you’re making), then putting them in ice water to stop the cooking process.
Reasons for Blanching Vegetables
- It prolongs the life of your produce and kills bacteria on the surface, so you can easily store in the fridge or freezer for later.
- It lets you precook meals and save time. Partially cook veggies in advance, so you won’t need to cook them as long later. Great for stir-fries and potato dishes.
- It helps veggies retain flavor, texture, and nutrients.
- It reduces the bitterness in veggies like kale and broccoli rabe.
- It gives them a bright, vibrant color.
- It lets you easily peel tomatoes, peaches, and other soft-skinned produce.
- It gives veggies a perfect crisp-tender texture for salads and platters.
What to Blanch and Shock
You can blanch and shock almost any vegetable from asparagus, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts to zucchini. But veggies aren’t the only food that benefit from this cooking technique: you can use it on fruit, nuts, and herbs, too!
How to Blanch and Shock
- Prepare your work station. Fill your pot with water and bring it to a boil. Add about ¼ cup of salt for every gallon of water—it should be as salty as the ocean. Get the ice bath ready by filling a large bowl with equal parts cubed ice and water. The temperature should be 32°F so it can quickly cool the cooked food.
- Prep your food. If you’re preparing several different kinds of produce, keep them separated because they’ll all take a different amount of time to cook. Cut bigger vegetables like potatoes, carrots, zucchini into uniform pieces so they all cook through in the same time.
- Blanch your food. Add your food to the boiling water in small batches so your water maintains a steady boil. If you’re blanching a variety of foods, start with the lightest first so the color doesn’t leech into the water. How long should you blanch vegetables? Most will take about 2–6 minutes to cook through.
- Shock your food. Once your veggies are crisp-tender, fully submerge them in the ice bath. If you’re using a traditional stockpot, you can use a slotted spoon to move food into the ice bath. Don’t let the food sit in the ice bath forever: You want the veggies to be just cold to the touch.
- Dry it off. Give the food a turn in a salad spinner or use a paper towel to blot any extra water off the food.
- Repeat. Use the same steps for the next batch or the next food.
- Store it. To store blanched veggies, put them in an airtight container lined with dry paper towels to absorb any extra water. Then you can store them in the fridge or freezer for fast, fresh, and easy weeknight meals any time.
Our Barbecue Chicken Chopped Salad is a great way to practice your new blanching and shocking skills. Check out the video below to see how it’s made.