Blanching Fruits and Vegetables

Blanching produce by dipping the food to be dried, frozen, or canned into a boiling water bath briefly before processing destroys most of the enzymes responsible for the breakdown of food. Care must be taken to dip the foods quickly in the boiling water. The longer the produce stays in the boiling water, the less likely the water soluble vitamins and minerals will stay in the produce, and, since heat destroys vitamins like A and C, the less time in the water means more of the delicate beneficial properties in the foods will be retained. A good stainless steel or enamel pot is perfect for this process. Using a slotted spoon or tongs to remove for hot produce from the boiling water will allow you to handle the hot products easily.

Two Methods:

There are two basic methods of blanching produce or fruits: boiling water bath and steaming. Both of these methods are effective and bring pros and cons to the table.

Boiling Water Bath:


This method of blanching is good at destroying the enzymes to reduce spoilage, but many water soluble vitamins and minerals will be lost if the blanching time is too long. On average, dipping the produce in the boiling water for 30 seconds or so is sufficient to destroy the enzymes.

Simply place the produce into the boiling water for 30 seconds or so and remove with a slotted spoon. Drain the wet produce in a colander before laying out to dry, placing into freezer bags to be vacuum sealed, or placing in sterilized jars for hot water canning.

The Pros:

The equipment to execute the boiling water bath include a large stainless steel or enamel pot, a colander and a slotted spoon.

Its quick and easy to dip the produce into and out of the water.

The Cons:

Special care should be given to not allow the produce to boil in the water for more than 30 seconds.

The produce is "pre-cooked" in boiling water, altering the texture and water content of the produce.

Steaming Method:

Simply place the produce into the steamer basket and lower into the large, covered pot for 15 seconds or so. Remove the steamer rack and proceed with either drying, canning, or freezing the produce.
Steaming the produce over hot boiling water in a steamer will destroy the enzymes and bacteria faster, allowing many of the beneficial benefits of the food products to survive the process.

Pros:

A large stainless steel pot and a steamer rack are all that is needed to properly steam blanch the produce.

The steaming time for the produce is reduced to approximately 15 to 20 seconds per loaded steamer rack.

The produce is not submerged in the boiling water, keeping the texture and vitamin content more intact.

Cons:

Great care must be taken to make sure that the produce is not over-steamed. Steam requires less processing time than the boiling water bath.

Vegetables Less Suited to Blanching:

Depending on my ending process, I have chosen on special occassions to not blanch certain produce before vacuum sealing for freezing. The produce that I do not blanch for freezing include:

Asparagus

Broccoli

Cauliflower

Green Beans

Apples

Other Uses for Blanching:

Boiling Water Bath blanching is also used to loosen the skins of many fruits and produce to prepare them for preserving. The method involves dipping the fruit or vegetable into a boiling water bath briefly to allow the heat to loosen the skin. After the boiling water bath, the produce is scooped out with a slotted spoon and dipped immediately into an ice water bath to stop the cooking process. When the produce is cool enough to handle, the skin is easy to slip off. This works well with the following:

Peaches

Apricots

Tomatoes