How to Blanch Vegetables

Blanching means to plunge a fruit or vegetable into boiling water for a short amount of time before transferring it to an ice bath, which quickly stops the cooking. Learn when to use this handy technique and how to do it.


The quick and simple technique called blanching serves a variety of purposes in food prep. The key reasons to use this technique are below.

  • Blanching loosens the skin of tomatoes and peaches in order to peel them with ease.
  • When freezing vegetables, blanching is often recommended. It slows the natural enzymes in the vegetables that can cause loss of flavor, texture, and color during freezing.
  • Blanching cleans the surfaces of fruits and vegetables to remove dirt and organisms and can also reduce bitterness.
  • This hot-cold technique brightens the color of certain vegetables, especially broccoli and other green veggies, and helps to slow the loss of nutrients. Vibrant blanched veggies are especially attractive on a vegetable platter with dip.
  • Parboiling is a term used interchangeably with blanching and means to precook or partially cook in water. Some longer-cooking vegetables are parboiled before grilling, especially when used on kabobs along with quicker-cooking produce and meat.

How to Blanch Tomatoes

Blanching makes tomatoes easy to peel and protects their quality when freezing or canning. Use peeled tomatoes for sauces and salsas, too. This same technique works well for peeling peaches.

1. Fill a Pot with Water

Fill a large pot or Dutch oven with about 1 gallon of water. Bring the water to boiling. Fill a large bowl with ice water; set it and a slotted spoon nearby.

2. Cut an X on Each Piece

With a sharp paring knife, cut a shallow X on the bottom of each tomato. This encourages the skin to split during blanching so you will be able to easily slip it off once the tomato is cool.

3. Immerse Tomatoes in Boiling Water

Working in batches of four to six tomatoes, immerse the pieces in the boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds until the tomato skins split open, using the slotted spoon to move the tomatoes around so all sides get submerged.

4. Transfer to an Ice Bath

Once the skins are split, use the slotted spoon to carefully transfer the tomatoes to the bowl of ice water. Once the tomatoes are cool, remove them from the ice bath and drain on paper towels.

5. Peel the Tomatoes

Using you fingers or the tip of a knife, you should be able to easily pull the skin away from the flesh in two to four pieces.

Also see Canning Tomatoes

How to Blanch Green Beans

A quick blanch boosts the color of green beans. Blanching is also recommended before you freeze or can them.

1. Fill a Pot with Water.

Fill a large pot or Dutch oven with about 1 gallon of water. Bring the water to boiling. Fill a large bowl with ice water; set it and a slotted spoon nearby.

2. Immerse Green Beans in Boiling Water.

Working in batches, carefully lower the green beans into the boiling water. Boil small beans for 2 minutes, medium beans for 3 minutes, and large beans for 4 minutes.

3. Transfer to an Ice Bath.

Use the slotted spoon to carefully transfer the beans to the bowl of ice water. Once the beans are cool, remove them from the ice bath and drain in a colander.

Also see How to Cook Green Beans

How to Quick-Blanch

A quick way to perk up the color of a green vegetable or precook before grilling is to use this boiling-water method.

  • Place vegetable pieces, such as broccoli florets, in a large bowl; fill it no more than half-full. Fill a large bowl with ice water; set it and a slotted spoon nearby.
  • Bring a full kettle of water to boiling. Pour the boiling water over the vegetables, covering them completely with water. Blanching time varies with the vegetable or purpose of blanching. For perking up the color, plan on about 2 minutes. For precooking vegetables for grilling, see How to Grill Vegetables.
  • Use the slotted spoon to transfer the vegetables to the bowl of ice water. Once the vegetables are cool, remove from the ice bath.

Also see How to Cook Broccoli

How to Blanch Corn

Follow the directions for blanching green beans; boil for 3 minutes. If freezing, cut blanched corn from cobs at three-quarters depth of kernels; do not scrape.

Also see Canning and Freezing Corn

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