How to Blanch and Shock Vegetables in Three Easy Steps

When cooks "blanch and shock" vegetables, they're partially cooking them and then cooling them quickly so they retain their color and crunch. We'll show you how shockingly easy it is to do.

Blanching and shocking can be used to partially cook and preserve the color and crunch of almost any vegetable. You can use blanched and shocked vegetables in salads, pasta dishes, and as appetizers with dips. You might also blanch and shock raw vegetables before canning, or freezing. This video for Chef John's Easy Broccoli Salad shows you the basic steps.

1. Get Your Hot and Cold Water Ready

Prepare a pot of boiling water and an ice bath (a large bowl full of ice and water). You can add salt to the boiling water if you wish — salt will permeate the outer walls of the vegetable being blanched and enhance the flavors — but salt also breaks down the vegetables over time and causes them to become mushy.

2. Boil (Blanch)

Place your vegetables into the boiling water, and keep the water at a consistent boil. Test the vegetables for doneness after a minute or so; vegetables should be tender but not mushy. To test larger vegetables like broccoli, insert a small sharp knife into the thick part of the stem. If the broccoli clings to the knife, it needs more time. If the knife slides in and out easily, the broccoli is ready to be shocked.

3. Cool (Shock)

When the vegetables are cooked but still crisp, quickly remove them from the boiling water with tongs or a slotted spoon and plunge them into the ice bath. Immersing the vegetables in ice-cold water will halt the cooking process.

Important: Keep the vegetables in the ice water long enough for them to cool completely, then drain them well. If you remove the vegetables from the ice bath before they finish cooling, they will continue to cook from the inside out resulting in a mushy finished product.

How to Blanch and Shock Fruit

When you need to peel fruits with very thin skins, like tomatoes or peaches, you can use the blanch and shock method (without salt in the boiling water, of course). Blanching loosens the skin from the flesh, and shocking helps it to easily peel off. To help the process along, cut a shallow X in the bottom of the fruit (opposite the stem end) before blanching.

These articles go into more detail about how to use the blanch and shock method to peel tomatoes and peaches:

How to Use Blanched and Shocked Vegetables

These recipes give you ideas for using blanched vegetables:

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