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Learning how to blanch broccoli is the key to taming its bitter and raw taste. By blanching broccoli, you can improve its versatility even further, allowing you to do a lot of things with it. Let’s get to know more about blanching broccoli through this article.
What is Blanching?
Blanching refers to a cooling method that involves submerging a food, like fruits and vegetables (in the case of this article, the broccoli), in boiling water and cook or freeze them. After that, you have to immediately plunge into an ice bath, which is crucial in stopping the cooking method.
This short period in the ice bath can help in bringing out the food’s natural colors. You can expect the enzymes responsible for changing color to be deactivated right after the cooking process. This is the reason why the food, fruit, or vegetable that goes through this process retains its naturally bright and vibrant color.
Blanching is also an effective and easy cooking method of preparing your food prior to freezing it. Note that as you freeze fruits and veggies, the cold temperature causes the breakdown of enzymes found in their cells’ walls.
These enzymes should remain intact to preserve the food’s crunchy texture as well as their nutrients and natural color. Through this method, you can stop that from happening.
Why Do You Have to Blanch Broccoli?
Similar to other fruits and vegetables, blanching broccoli florets also has plenty of benefits. In addition to preventing the breakdown of the enzymes mentioned earlier, it is advisable to blanch before freezing broccoli as it can do the following:
By learning how to blanch broccoli, you can improve the taste of the vegetable. Having blanched broccoli can even assure you that you can get rid of its bitter and bland taste. Your blanched broccoli will, therefore, have more palatable and tastier flavors compared to other unblanched vegetables.
Another reason to blanch the broccoli in boiling water is that it can brighten up its colors. Just like other vegetables, broccoli has a vibrant color.
The problem is that this natural color will fade after some time, which usually happens if you immediately place raw broccoli straight into your freezer. You can prevent the fading of color before you freeze broccoli.
Cleans broccoli florets
Expect the florets to become completely clean after you blanch them. This is because you will be using boiling water for this method. By briefly letting the florets come in contact with the rapidly boiling water, you can remove all lingering dirt and germs that you may not have completely washed off using plain running water.
Keeps cooking time shorter
Another reason to blanch broccoli is that it shortens the required prep time for cooking it in the future. For instance, once you take out the blanched broccoli from your freezer to stir-fry them, you will be glad upon realizing that you have shortened the time required to cook it a bit.
The reason is that it is already partially cooked. This lessens the time needed for stir-frying and for any other methods of cooking you intend to do with your frozen broccoli. You can even lessen the time needed for adding it into your pasta salad or making it a part of your vegetable platter.
How to Blanch Broccoli Using Boiling Water
For you to begin enjoying the benefits of blanching, here is a step-by-step guide on how to do it on your broccoli.
Step 1 – Prepare your broccoli
Do the preparation by washing and cutting this veggie based on your preferred size. As much as possible, cut all florets of similar sizes. This is essential in cooking and blanching them at a similar rate, too.
Step 2 – Boil water
Prepare a large pot then fill it up with water. It should be around two-thirds full. Cover the heavy pot, put it on your stove, then pick the high heat setting.
Wait for the water to start boiling. Once it does, put around one tablespoon of salt. The added salt will season the water.
This pot of salted water can also increase its boiling point. This is necessary for efficiently cooking and blanching broccoli.
Step 3 – Make the ice water bath
The next thing you should do is making the ice water bath. Do this as you wait for the water to finish boiling. To make the ice bath, what you have to do is prepare some cold water and fill a large bowl with it. Put a few ice cubes to this large bowl of water, too.
Step 4 – Start cooking
Check the pot of water. If it already started boiling, add broccoli slices slowly and carefully. Blanch it within the recommended time.
If you add florets that are around one and one-half inch across, the cooking or blanching time should be 3 minutes. Make some adjustments on this period depending on the size of the florets. A sign that you have successfully blanched broccoli florets is when they are already firm yet a bit softened or barely tender and bright green in color.
Step 5 – Allow your broccoli to cool down
Let the broccoli cool down by removing them from the pot using a small sieve or slotted spoon. Aside from the sieve or slotted spoon, you may also drain it in your colander.
After you remove the broccoli from the pot, put the florets immediately in the prepared iced water bath. This is what you have to do to stop the cooking process. After half a minute, take them out of the cold water. Strain the florets.
Step 6 – Serve or freeze the blanched broccoli
Whether you plan to learn how to blanch broccoli as part of the steps for preparing your desired recipe containing the vegetable or do the method before freezing broccoli, it is undoubtedly a beneficial method. It could be your initial step or main cooking technique when planning to stir-fry or sauté it.
What’s good about secondary techniques, like sautéing, is that they can improve the taste of the veggie. Through this technique, you can pre-cook before adding it to your stir-fries or sautéing it.
It can also be your initial step before freezing broccoli. This should help prevent it from losing its natural color, texture, and flavor after a certain period of storage in your freezer.
How to Blanch Broccoli Using Steam?
You can also use steam to blanch broccoli, which is helpful in preserving the color, texture, nutrition content, and crispness of the vegetable. Just like the first method, prepare by cleaning it first then cutting it evenly or uniformly based on your preferred size.
After that, you should follow these steps:
Step 1 – Prepare the cleaned and cut broccoli for steaming
What you should do is to get a large pot then fill it up with water – around one to two inches full. Get the steam basket and carefully place the cut pieces of broccoli in this pot of water. Let the basket sit over the water line in the pot.
Cover your large pot of water then make the ice water bath. Follow the same steps mentioned earlier for making the ice water bath.
It should also be the time for you to try arranging the broccoli florets in just a single layer. This is a big help in letting the steam get into each part of the cut broccoli evenly.
Step 2 – Set your timer for steam cooking
As soon as you notice the steam escaping, start counting and monitoring the time required to cook. Steam blanching this type of vegetable usually takes around five minutes.
Halfway through the recommended steam cooking time, take the lid off. This is so you can check whether the broccoli is already clumping together, which you should prevent from happening. You can also use this time to check if you cook everything evenly.
Step 3 – Stop steam cooking
After noticing the successful blanching of your broccoli, take the basket out of the pot. Transfer the blanched broccoli immediately into the prepared cold ice water bath. This step is highly recommended to stop the cooking process.
After that, you can finally complete the whole process by draining the cooled broccoli. Let the florets dry completely before serving and eating them.
In that case, you can pat dry them with a paper towel first. You can also pack them in freezer bags or an air tight plastic bag for freezing.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why do you have to blanch broccoli?
You should blanch this vegetable as part of the initial steps for cooking or freezing fresh broccoli. You can lessen the time required to cook it if you do the blanching method first. It is also an important step before freezing as it prevents losing the natural flavor, texture, and color of broccoli after just a few days.
Is it better to blanch or steam broccoli?
Yes, it is better to blanch or steam broccoli as it can help bring out the goodness of this vegetable. Both methods can even help in retaining its natural bright green color. In addition, blanching or steaming can prevent you from overcooking it.
Do you have to blanch broccoli before cooking?
Yes. Through blanching, you can enhance its taste. This cooking process also works in enhancing its already vibrant bright green color while assuring you that it will be fully cooked just the way you want it.
What happens if you don’t blanch broccoli?
Failing to blanch broccoli may produce unwanted results. For one, its stems and florets may end up becoming shriveled, drab green, or too bitter if you freeze them raw, meaning without blanching them first. Do not fail to do this method if you do not want to end up losing its vibrancy and natural flavors.
Blanching is always a time-tested method when planning to cook and prepare vegetables. By doing this in your broccoli, you will always have an assurance that this veggie will look and taste great. In addition, it prevents broccoli from losing its nutritional value and natural texture.
If you’d like to learn about growing broccoli, click here.