Blanching green beans

Our new feature, Home School, will highlight the methods and techniques that we use in the kitchen everyday. Whether you're new to daily cooking or just need to freshen up on some of your skills, we'll focus on the basics to help you deal with limited ingredients and limited time!

First up: Blanching!

Blanching, or quickly boiling vegetables until tender, but still crisp, is an important tool for every day cooking, but also for preserving fresh produce.

Blanching will keep frozen vegetables from becoming soggy and mushy when defrosted, so if you have fresh vegetables you would like to save for later, blanch them first.

For easiest use, first cut the vegetables into portion sizes. Blanch them, cool them, and spread them on a baking sheet to freeze. Once frozen, transfer the vegetables to a zip-top bag or container and freeze until needed.

Once your vegetables are blanched, you can add them to prepared foods (like soups or pasta dishes) for some extra veggies, toss them with cooked grains for an easy salad, or even blend them with fruit for a smoothie.

Blanching vegetables

Blanching leafy greens, like spinach, kale, chard, escarole, and arugula, uses the same process with a few extra considerations:

  1. Trim the stems, and remove any split or bruised portions. Remove any wilted or bruised leaves.
  2. Some greens, like collards or chard, may have stems that should be either cooked separately from the greens or started in the boiling water before the leaves. To prepare them, cut the stems away from the leaves, and keep them separate. Rinse the stems and cut them into pieces of the size required in your recipe.
  3. Clean the leaves in plenty of cold water until there are no more traces of sand or grit. Drain them in a colander.
  4. Fill a large pot with water and add enough salt to be able to barely taste it. Cover the pot and bring the water to a rolling boil over high heat.
  5. If you are cooking greens with sturdy stems like chard, add them to the pot first and cook for 2 to 3 minutes before adding the leaves.
  6. Add the cleaned greens all at once and stir to submerge them. Cook uncovered until tender and a deep color, 3 to 4 minutes. Lift the greens out of the water with a sieve or slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl of ice water. After the greens are chilled, drain in a colander for several minutes.
  7. If necessary, squeeze the greens as follows: Drape a clean dish towel or a large piece of cheesecloth in a colander. Put the greens in the center of the cloth and gather the edges of the towel around the greens. Tighten the cloth by twisting the edges with one hand. Use the other hand to twist the ball of greens in the opposite direction. Once you have squeezed out the extra liquid, unwrap the greens and chop them as coarsely or finely as your recipe requires.