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Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup" | Creative Commons License, Flickr.com

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Recommended Blanching Times for Vegetables

By Vicki McClure Davidson

 

Blanching halts the aging process of a vegetable if you intend to freeze it. It only takes a few minutes to do, and it's an imperative to preserve freshness and keep the food safe to eat months from now. Blanching is also a quick method to speed up the cooking process of denser vegetables, such as carrots or broccoli, when they will be added to stir fries or casseroles, or to make them more tender for appetizer trays or salads.

Chemical breakdowns are halted and vegetables retain most of their vitamins and minerals. Dangerous bacteria on the surface are destroyed. While blanching uses boiling water, it is not intended to fully cook the vegetable.

Blanching kills bacteria on vegetables and halts the aging process

After the vegetable has been blanched for the recommended time, immediately remove it from the boiling pot of water and plunge it into iced water or under cold running water. This shocks it and halts the cooking process. By doing this, green vegetables, like broccoli, bell peppers, and green beans, remain bright green. If they are kept in the boiling water too long or continue to cook, they will become a dull, almost-gray color. They are now ready for freezing or for use in an otherwise uncooked dish, like a salad or a veggie appetizer tray.

Additional blanching overview from acclaimed chef Julia Child:

BLANCH: To blanch, usually in boiling water: this is to drop green vegetables into a large amount of boiling water either to cook them rapidly until limp, as for spinach or cabbage leaves that are to have further cooking; or to blanch them until almost tender, as for green beans that are to be tossed in butter. It also means boiling pieces of bacon to remove excess salt and the smoky flavor, or boiling tripe to freshen it before proceeding to the final cooking.

 

Vegetable
Blanching Time
(minutes)
Artichoke - Globe
(Hearts)

7
Artichoke - Jerusalem
3-5
Asparagus
Small Stalk
Medium Stalk
Large Stalk

2
3
4
Beans - Snap, Green, or Wax
3
Beans - Lima, Butter, or Pinto
Small
Medium
Large

2
3
4
Beets
cook until tender**
Broccoli
(flowerets 1.5 inches across)
Steamed

3
5
Brussel Sprouts
Small Heads
Medium Heads
Large Heads


3
4
5
Cabbage or Chinese Cabbage
(shredded)

1.5
Carrots
Small
Diced, Sliced, or Lengthwise Strips

5
2
Cauliflower
(flowerets, 1 inch across)

3
Celery
3
Corn
Corn-on-the-cob
Small Ears
Medium Ears
Large Ears
Whole Kernel or Cream Style
(ears blanched before cutting corn from cob)


7
9
11

4
Eggplant
4
Greens
Collards
All Others

3
2
Kohlrabi
Whole
Cubes

3
1
Mushrooms
Whole (steamed)
Buttons or Quarters (steamed)
Slices (steamed)

5
3.5
3
Okra
Small Pods
Large Pods

3
4
Onions
Whole (blanch until center is heated)
Rings

3-7
10-15 seconds
Parsnips (cut into narrow strips)
2
Peas - Edible Pod
1.5 - 3
Peas - Field (blackeye)
2
Peas - Green
1.5
Peppers - Sweet, Bell
Halves
Strips or Rings

3
2
Potatoes - Irish, New
3-5
Pumpkin
cook until tender**
Rutabagas
3
Soybeans - Green
5
Spinach
2
Squash - Chayote
2
Squash - Summer
3
Squash - Winter
cook until tender**
Sweet Potatoes
cook until tender**
Tomatoes
cook until tender**
Turnips
Cubes

2

** "Cook until tender" – vegetable can be either steam or water blanched.

 

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Sources:
Child, Julia, From Julia Child's Kitchen, Alfred A. Knopf, NY, NY, 1982.
National Center for Home Food Preservation; original reference data was from "So Easy to Preserve", 5th ed., 2006. Bulletin 989, Cooperative Extension Service, The University of Georgia, Athens. Revised by Elizabeth L. Andress, Ph.D. and Judy A. Harrison, Ph.D., Extension Foods Specialists.
Storing the Surplus, "How to Freeze Vegetables, Foods, and Blanching Time Chart," (http://www.allotment.org.uk/allotment_foods/Storing_the_Surplus_Freezing.php).
Wikipedia website (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blanching).