How to Blanch Asparagus and Prepare it for Use: Well, It's Simple

How to Blanch Asparagus
Sauteing, braising, flambeing and roasting are all unique but essential methods of cooking. Each is a different technique that imparts taste and texture to ingredients. Learn the art of blanching and how to use this technique on asparagus.
Asparagus is a green, leafless vegetable, which consists of thin stalks and spears or small bulbs at the stalk's tips. It can be steamed or boiled and used in salads or as a side dish. When chopped, it can be used in stir-fry or grilled dishes. It makes a wonderful vegetarian ingredient to most non-veg dishes and baked recipes. But this vegetable is firm and tough and needs prolonged cooking to make it soft. However such cooking reduces the freshness of the vegetable and it can become tough or wilt and soggy. The correct procedure to make asparagus for culinary use is blanching. Read on to learn how and why one must blanch asparagus.
Blanching asparagus
Introduction to Blanching
The word "blanch" means to whiten but in cooking, the term blanching refers to the process of immersing a raw vegetable in scalding hot water for a brief time period. Then the vegetable is "shocked" by running cold water over it or by dipping it in ice-cold water. Blanching can be performed on a number of vegetables and even some fruits. Examples of such vegetables and fruits are almonds, cabbages, onions, pistachios, pumpkins, etc. This hot-stop-cold method of cooking is used for the following reasons:

● Blanching a vegetable prior to freezing it, allows for better storage. The hot-cold technique freezes biochemical enzymes in the vegetable that would encourage it to deteriorate and lose flavor and color when frozen.
● For hard and firm vegetables, blanching them before cooking, softens them and makes them easier to cook and consume. This is why almonds are blanched.
● Blanching is very effective in making a veggie squeaky clean, as the hot water destroys germs and dirt.
● For preservation of color and vitamin content, blanching is very useful.
● Blanching helps in easily removing the skin of some vegetables.
● Blanching helps remove strong odors and unpleasant tastes from vegetables like yams and onions.

The technique and time taken for blanching are two key points in this cooking process. Vegetables can be blanched by boiling water, steaming or in the microwave. A vegetable can be insufficiently or under blanched, where there is no effect. It can also be over blanched, where the vegetable is nearly destroyed. Why the need to blanch asparagus?

Asparagus, when used in a recipe, should remain crisp and firm, yet soft enough to eat. Blanching helps the asparagus retain its unique taste, at the same time, renders it soft enough to enjoy while eating. The question of how long to blanch asparagus, is important, if one wants to preserve the vegetable's flavor. An asparagus with a small stalk should be blanched for 2 minutes, medium-sized stalk for 3 minutes and large stalk for 4 minutes.
Best Ways to Blanch Asparagus
Way : How to Blanch Asparagus Using Water
1. Pick fresh, whole firm stalks of asparagus, which are fresh and green.
Bunch of asparagus
2. The spears of the asparagus should be firm, closed and large in size.
3. Wash the asparagus in water at regular intervals, so that it is clean before blanching.
Washing asparagus
4. Heat a pot of water at medium temperature and bring the water to a rolling boil (point where the water is boiling very fast).
5. Fill a bowl with water and add ice cubes if necessary to keep the water cold. The water should be freezing cold.
6. Add the asparagus to the boiling water. You can tie the stalks together and make little bundles, to make picking up the asparagus from the pot easier.
Asparagus in boiling water
7. Leave it there for 2-4 minutes, depending on stalk size.
8. When the spears turn light green in color, remove asparagus with a spoon or strain them and immediately immerse in the bowl of iced water.
9. Let it cool in the water, then remove it and using a paper towel, dry the asparagus.
10. You can add some rice vinegar or lemon juice to the water before it is boiled, to make the asparagus greener in color. You can also add salt.
11. The blanched asparagus can be now chopped and served in a salad or dish or it can be stir-fried or sautéed.
Vegetable salad
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How to Blanch Asparagus for Freezing

1. Follow the above blanching steps till the "immersing in water" step.
2. After the asparagus has cooled in the ice-cold water, dry it thoroughly.
3. Place the asparagus in freezer bags and press the bags to get rid of air.
4. Seal the bags firmly, making sure there is no air and freeze at a temperature of 0°F.
Way : Blanching Asparagus in the Microwave
● Use a microwave dish and lay the asparagus in it.
● For each pound of asparagus, add 2 tablespoons of water.
● Place the dish in the microwave and heat for 1-2 minutes. The asparagus will turn bright green in color.
● Remove from microwave and plunge asparagus in ice-cold water.
● Drain water, pat dry and use or store.
Once blanched, you can use the asparagus in pasta recipes and salads or drizzle with olive oil and grill to get delicious crisp veggies. Always blanch fresh asparagus. As a rule, asparagus can be blanched at a maximum of 2-3 days after purchase. After that, the vegetable loses its freshness and even blanching will not restore its taste.