Skip to content


Blanch | Blanch definition | How to blanch
« Back to Cooking Class Index

Blanch | Blanch definition | How to blanch

Blanch Definition

Definition of blanch – Blanching is a process wherein the food, usually a vegetable or fruit, is scalded in boiling water.
It is removed after a brief time, and finally plunged into iced water or placed under cold running water to shock or refresh into stopping the cooking process.

Why Blanch

  1. Blanch cooking is used to preserve colour and texture in foods, to prepare ingredients ahead of time.
  2. Blanching is commonly used to remove skins from tomatoes and almonds.
  3. It also wilts or softens vegetables and makes them easier to pack for freezing.
  4. It stops enzyme actions which can cause loss of flavour, colour and texture.
  5. This method is also good to soften foods, partly or fully cook, or to remove a strong taste, for example in cabbage or onions.
  6. Blanching certain vegetables like broccoli, kale, spinach or silverbeet will make their colours more vivid.
  7. Blanching cleanses the surface of dirt and organisms, brightens the colour and helps retard loss of vitamins.

How To Blanch

Blanching (scalding vegetables in boiling water or steam for a short time) is a must for almost all vegetables to be frozen.

Blanching time is crucial and varies with the vegetable and size.
Underblanching stimulates the activity of enzymes and is worse than no blanching.
Overblanching causes loss of flavour, colour, vitamins and minerals. See recommended blanching times.

Water Blanching

For home freezing, the most satisfactory way to heat all vegetables is in boiling water.
Use a blancher which has a blanching basket and cover, or fit a wire basket into a large pot with a lid.

  • Use 4.5 litres(1 gal) water per 0.5 kg (1 lb) of prepared vegetables.
  • Put the vegetable in a blanching basket and lower into vigorously boiling water.
    Place a lid on the blancher.
  • The water should return to boiling within 1 minute, or you are using too much vegetable for the amount of boiling water.
  • Start counting blanching time as soon as the water returns to a boil.
  • Keep heat high for the time given in the directions for the vegetable you are freezing.
  • Steam Blanching

    Heating in steam is recommended for a few vegetables.
    For broccoli, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and winter squash, both steaming and boiling are satisfactory methods.
    Steam blanching takes about 1½ times longer than water blanching.

    To steam, use a pot with a tight lid and a basket that holds the food at least three inches above the bottom of the pot.

    1. Put an inch or two of water in the pot and bring the water to a boil.
    2. It stops enzyme actions which can cause loss of flavour, colour and texture.
    3. Put the vegetables in the basket in a single layer so that steam reaches all parts quickly.
    4. It stops enzyme actions which can cause loss of flavour, colour and texture.
    5. Cover the pot and keep heat high. It stops enzyme actions which can cause loss of flavour, colour and texture.
    6. Start counting steaming time as soon as the lid is on. See steam blanching times recommended for the vegetables listed below.

    Microwave Blanching

    Microwave blanching may not be effective, since research shows that some enzymes may not be inactivated.
    This could result in off-flavours and loss of texture and colour.

    Those choosing to run the risk of low quality vegetables by microwave blanching should be sure to work in small quantities, using the directions for their specific microwave oven.

    Microwave blanching will not save time or energy.


    As soon as blanching is complete, vegetables should be cooled quickly and thoroughly to stop the cooking process.

    1. To cool, plunge the basket of vegetables immediately into a large quantity of cold water.
    2. Change water frequently or use cold running water or ice water.
      If ice is used, about 4.5 litres(1 gal) ice per 0.5 kg (1 lb) is needed.
    3. Cooling vegetables should take the same amount of time as blanching.
    4. Drain vegetables thoroughly after cooling.
      Extra moisture can cause a loss of quality when vegetables are frozen.

    Blanching Times

    Blanching times are for water blanching unless otherwise indicated.

    Vegetable TypeBlanching Time (minutes)
    Asparagus-Small Stalk2
    Asparagus-Medium Stalk3
    Asparagus=Large Stalk4
    Beans-Snap, Green, or Wax3
    Beans-Lima, Butter, or Pinto-Small2
    Beans-Lima, Butter, or Pinto-medium3
    Beans-Lima, Butter, or Pinto-Large4
    Broccoli-flowerets 3.5cm (1½”) across3
    Brussel Sprouts-Small Heads3
    Brussel Sprouts-Medium Heads4
    Brussel Sprouts-Large Heads5
    Cabbage or Chinese Cabbage (shredded)
    Carrots-Diced, Sliced or Lengthwise Strips2
    Cauliflower (flowerets, 2.5cm (1″) across3
    Corn-on-the-cob Small Ears7
    Corn-on-the-cob Medium Ears9
    Corn-on-the-cob Large Ears11
    Corn-Whole Kernels4
    Greens Collards3
    Greens All Other2
    Kohlrabi Whole3
    Kohlrabi Diced1
    Mushrooms Whole (steamed)5
    Mushrooms Buttons or Quarters (steamed)
    Mushrooms Slices steamed)3
    Okra-Small Pods3
    Okra-Large Pods4
    Onions-Whole (blanch until center is heated)3-7
    Onions-Rings10-15 seconds
    Peas-Edible Pod1½ – 3
    Peas-Field (blackeye)2
    Peppers-Sweet Halves3
    Peppers-Sweet Strips or rings2
    Potatoes (Small/New)3-5
    Sweet PotatoesCook
    Turnips or Parsnips Diced2

    How To Blanch Vegetables

    Sharing is caring!

    « Cooking Class Index