Blanching is a cooking method used for multiple purposes. The term “blanch” is defined as:
a. to scald briefly and then drain, as peaches or almonds to facilitate removal of skins, or as rice or macaroni to separate the grains or strands.
b. to scald or parboil…so as to whiten, remove the odor, prepare for cooking by other means, etc. (source)
Here are some ways in which you would use blanching:
Blanching brings out the color in vegetables, in particular greens, providing a fresh, vibrant color which adds to the aesthetic of your dishes.
To Lightly Cook
Blanching is an excellent method to use when a crisp yet tender texture is desired. This is ideal for vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli and carrots that are used in salads or as side dishes.
Blanching is often used in order to remove the skins from various fruits and nuts. By boiling the food for a short period of time then rinsing it with cold water, the skin begins to detach from the food, which allows for easy removal. This method works wonderfully for items such as almonds, peaches and tomatoes.
To Store by Freezing
Blanching enables various food items to be frozen. This is because it destroys the enzymes which negatively affect a food’s flavor and nutritional value, therefore halting the ripening process and allowing foods to retain their freshness. This method works for most vegetables with the exception of potatoes and various peppers. For more information, check out the timetable on this page.
To Weaken Flavor
Blanching helps to mute the strong flavor that exists in items such as cabbage, garlic and onions. This helps result in smooth-flavored dishes that are not overpowering.