How to blanch vegetables

What is blanching and why do you do it? Well, very simply, blanching is a method of scalding either fruit or vegetables and then plunging them into ice cold water for later use. An advantage of blanching is that it sets the colour, the texture and the taste but it's also a clever way of getting ahead if you want to cook things, put them in the fridge and then bring them out later that day ready for use.

Right, green beans. First what we need is a big pan of boiling water, add some salt because that's going to help keep the colour as well, it's also going to give them a lot of flavour. Right, so with green beans, you just want to take the ends off, just the little stalk ends. Just down like that, take as little as possible off and then literally plunge those into the boiling water.

So beans are now cooked; you want to cook them for a couple of minutes or until they lose that squeak. So you take them and just bite into one, you can try it. So at this point, plunge them into the ice water. Now that's going to set the colour but it's also going to stop them cooking. You leave them in that water for about a minute, just until they're completely cold – no longer – and then take them out and put them on a plate. But at this point, you could either get them out and you can use them in salads or you can throw them in a stir-fry, you can eat them cold or you could get them out the fridge and then you could throw them into hot water for no more than about 30 seconds to a minute tops and then they're completely hot and cooked again. So let's get them out. And that's it. So these are now ready to go into the fridge but if you were going to freeze these, you need to pat them dry, get rid of the excess moisture and then put them in the freezer.

So when we talk about blanching fruit it's a really good method of removing the outer skin, which is good for jams and chutneys or, when you're talking about tomatoes, if you're making a tomato sauce you don't get all those nasty skins in it.

So I'll show you with a plum here. So just put a little cross in the top, not too deep; that's going to help the skin fall back, peel back when it's in the boiling water, and then drop it in. Drop it in, ripe fruit will take no more than about 10 to 20 seconds to start to peel, the same with tomatoes, if the fruit is slightly unripe, it's going to take a little bit longer.

OK, I can see the plum skin is falling off, let's remove that. Immediately plunge it into the ice water, just give it 30 seconds to a minute and then lift it. And there you go, you remove the skin and obviously this works for nectarines or apples or pears. Just take the end off there. That's it, that's your little plum.

Now, whether you're blanching fruit or vegetables, as long as you pat them dry, put them in a freezer bag, you can then freeze them for about two to three months. But essentially, that's it, that is how you blanch fruit and veg.

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