Recipes sometimes call for cooks to "blanch" fruits or vegetables. All it means is to put the item in question in boiling water, lift it out after the prescribed time, and cool it off quickly.
Blanching helps loosen skins for peeling (as in the case of peaches and tomatoes), gets items partially cooked before being added to a dish, sets a bright green color and keeps pretty vegetables from turning gray (asparagus, greens, peas, green beans), leeches out bitterness (as with kale, collard greens, and dandelion greens), and prepares some vegetables for freezing. It's a handy technique to know.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add enough salt so it tastes as salty as the ocean.
- Prepare a large bowl of ice water.
- Meanwhile, rinse, trim, or chop the fruit or vegetable as called for in the recipe.
- Put the items in the boiling water for the prescribed time (usually in the 30-second to 2-minute range).
- Drain or lift out fruits or vegetables and transfer them to the ice water (alternatively, you can lay them out generously spaced in a single layer on clean kitchen towels and let them air-cool or rinse them under cold running water). Swish them around in the water until cool.
- Drain and pat dry or, in the case of greens and spinach, squeeze the water out of them.
It's as simple as that!