Wondering how to blanch broccoli? You’re in the right place! Blanched broccoli is easy to make and ensures that your broccoli has the best color, texture and taste. Let this be your guide to everything you need to know about cutting broccoli, blanching broccoli, and freezing it!
What is blanching?
Blanching is a simple cooking method often used with a variety of fruits or vegetables which plunges them into scalding water to cook briefly.
It’s typically followed by shocking which is to submerge the fruits or vegetables into an ice bath to stop the cooking process.
Blanching helps tenderize hard vegetables like carrots, cauliflower, or broccoli and eliminates the bitterness in vegetables before a second cooking method like sauteing is used.
How long does it take to blanch broccoli?
The process takes about 10 minutes, and you can even blanch a week’s worth of chopped vegetables to save time during your hectic week.
What to do with blanched broccoli
You can do so many things with blanched vegetables! You can add broccoli florets to salads or soups, serve as an amazing side dish or add it into a quick stir-fry.
These recipes can get you started:
- Simple Broccoli Stir Fry – skip the broccoli cooking step because you’ll have already done that! Just add it in.
- Cheddar Broccoli Soup – toss in the blanched broccoli at the end of cooking.
- Cheesy Spaghetti Squash and Broccoli – step the whole first part where you cook the broccoli and use your blanched broccoli instead.
- Broccoli Cauliflower Salad from Recipe Pocket – this would be a great use of your prepared broccoli!
How to cut broccoli
Let’s start from the beginning. When cutting broccoli, start from the bottom. Trim about an inch off the trunk.
If the trunk appears dried, woody, hollow or appears tough, keep trimming until you reach the tender green center.
The trunk and the florets are both edible, but the trunk will take longer to cook so it’s ideal to peel the fibrous trunk with a vegetable peeler to get rid of the outer skin.
After it’s peeled, cut the stem away from the head or “crown” and cut away the individual florets.
To cut broccoli florets, slice straight through the trunk at the top where the branches meet. If the florets are too big, slice down the middle and pull the florets apart into smaller bite-sized pieces.
Don’t forget about the stems! You can cut them into round discs or cubes, julienne them into small thin strips, spiralize them and even shred them.
There are several ways you can use them from stir-frys and soups to amazing frittatas. You might even find they’re sweeter than florets and as tasty!
How to blanch broccoli
Blanching broccoli is super easy. First, you boil a pot of salted water over high heat.
Then gently place the broccoli into the rapidly boiling water. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes depending on the size of the florets.
While the broccoli is cooking, set aside a large bowl of cold water with ice cubes nearby.
The broccoli should be bright green and somewhat tender when you carefully remove it with a slotted spoon.
Then immediately plunge it into the ice bath.
This stops the cooking process and keeps your broccoli from getting overcooked, which could leave it looking mushy and tasteless.
When the broccoli is completely cooled, drain the water and pat dry with a paper towel before storing.
Blanched broccoli can be stored in an air-tight container for several days in the fridge before adding to salads, veggie bowls, or served in your favorite healthy soup.
Can I freeze broccoli?
Absolutely! When freezing vegetables, blanch them first to slow the natural enzymes that cause a loss of flavor, texture and color.
After the broccoli has been cooled and dried, you can transfer the broccoli into an air-tight plastic bag and toss it into the freezer.
I recommend taking it one step further to flash freeze it to retain nutrients, and avoid the formation of ice crystals, not to mention having better tasting broccoli.
Frozen broccoli can be stored for up to one year before use. Be sure to wrap it tightly, and date it before storing it in the freezer.
What is flash freezing?
Flash freezing simply is a process used to rapidly freeze small items individually and store them quickly once they are frozen. It helps retain nutrients by stopping cell deformation.
Flash freezing is all the rage on the cooking shows with fancy machines that freeze at extremely low temperatures with circulating air.
But for the home cook, flash freezing is a practice of freezing individual pieces separately by spreading them out on a baking sheet and freezing them for a couple of hours before transferring them into an airtight container to be stored for longer periods.
Just make sure that whatever pan or baking sheet you use will easily fit into your freezer.
This freezing method keeps individual pieces from fusing together during the freezing process and allows you to easily portion out the amount you want to cook rather than having to cook the entire lot.
To thaw your flash-frozen broccoli, place it at room temperature, or if in a freezer bag, add it to cool water. Don’t thaw food in warm water, as it will start the cooking process leaving your broccoli tough and easier to overcook.
I know it’s not the most exciting recipe, but we all have to eat our veggies. 😉 I’ll be back next week with something more fun.
If you have any other questions about how to blanch broccoli, I’d be glad to answer them below. Enjoy!
How to Blanch Broccoli
- 1 1/2 pounds broccoli florets about 3 large heads
- 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
- Cut off about an inch off the bottom of the trunk of the broccoli. If it's hollow or woody keep cutting until you get to the tender part.
- Remove any leaves and using a vegetable peeler, peel away the tough outer skin.
- Cut the trunk into 1/2" pieces.
- Cut off florets into 1 1/2" pieces.
- Bring a large pot of water (with the salt added) to a rapid boil.
- While waiting for it to boil when you think it'll start boiling in the next 2 minutes, fill a large bowl with ice and cold water.
- Gently lower the florets into the boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes. The time depends on the size of the florets. The broccoli should be a bright green and just barely tender.
- Remove the broccoli with a slotted spoon and immediately plunge it into the ice water.
- Once it's cooled completely don't let it sit longer than needed, remove the broccoli from the bowl of water and pat dry with paper towels.
- Place the broccoli in a single layer on a baking sheet. Freeze for 2 hours and then transfer to containers or freezer bags. Label with the date.