Learn how to blanch broccoli so you can get the most out of this affordable and abundant vegetable. Use blanched broccoli florets in stir-fry, soups and all of your favorite recipes. You can also freeze it to preserve it for later use.
I love broccoli and while I enjoy eating it raw, it's also one of my favorite cooked vegetables. During the late spring and early summer, broccoli is in abundance in the garden, at my local farmer's markets and in the grocery store. It's fresh and affordable but fresh broccoli doesn't last forever.
To make the most of my favorite fresh produce I love to blanch the broccoli. It's easily useable in all of my favorite recipes and stores easier while taking up less space than full broccoli heads. Blanching is easy to do and yields slightly tender florets that are perfect for quick cooking methods like stir frying and sauteing. It is a great way to meal prep.
What is Blanching?
If you don't spend a lot of time in the kitchen the term blanching may have you running for the hills. I promise that blanching isn't difficult, nor is the blanching process lengthy. If you can boil water you can blanch vegetables. It really is that simple and you will love this cooking method.
Blanching is a cooking technique that requires briefly submerging a fruit, vegetable or nut into boiling water then plunging it into ice water to quickly stop the cooking process.
Blanching is used for different purposes depending on what is being blanched. The process may be used for pre-cooking, making skins easier to peel or simply to intensify the vibrant color.
Broccoli is often blanched before using it in recipes that require quick-cooking methods so the florets are slightly tender and cooked through. You don't want raw broccoli in your stir fry but you also don't want mushy, overcooked broccoli. When blanched, it is the best way to get tender broccoli pieces that still have some bite. Broccoli florets also turns bright, vibrant green color so it's not only easier to eat and looks gorgeous in your finished dish.
Tips for Blanching
- When purchasing broccoli, look for heads that are free from yellow or brown spots and feel heavy for their size.
- Cut the florets into similar size pieces so they cook evenly.
- Don't discard the broccoli stems. I keep them in a bag in the freezer and when I have several I use them to flavor homemade soups.
- Store unblanched broccoli in an open bag in the fridge and use it within 3-4 days.
- Raw broccoli will shrink slightly as it blanches. 1 pound of raw broccoli is about 6 cups of raw florets or 3 cups of blanched florets.
- Broccoli – Look for fresh, raw broccoli or broccoli florets that are free from yellow or brown spots.
- Salt – Salt is optional but brings out all of the natural flavors of broccoli.
How To Blanch Broccoli
- Bring a large pot of water to boil on high heat. Add salt.
- While the water boils, trim the whole head of broccoli into uniform smaller florets.
- As the water starts boiling, add the raw vegetables to the large pot of salted water and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- When the broccoli is still a bright green color and just starting to become tender, remove the broccoli with a slotted spoon or use a colendar. Submerge in a large bowl of ice water to give it an ice bath.
- Use in your favorite recipes or store.
How To Freeze and Store Blanched Broccoli
Storage: While fresh broccoli should be stored uncovered, broccoli that is blanched should be covered with plastic wrap or stored in an airtight container or in a freezer bag. You can keep the broccoli in the fridge for up to 4 days so plan to use it in several meals.
Freezer: To freeze, lay the well-drained blanched florets on a baking sheet in a single layer and place it in the freezer for 2-3 hours to flash freeze. Once the florets are frozen, remove from the sheet pan and place them into freezer bags and store for up to 3 months. Remove only what you need to add to your recipes or you can defrost the entire bag.
It takes 2 to 3 minutes plus time for water to boil.
You can easily double the recipe if you have a large enough pot. If you don't, you can cook this in batches. Be sure to bring the water back to a full boil between batches.
No. Frozen broccoli is already blanched. That being said, I have found storebought frozen broccoli is usually blanched very quickly and is not cooked quite as much as I prefer so I usually blanch fresh broccoli and freeze my own.
Yes. If you prefer your broccoli a little more tender, you can blanch it for a couple of minutes more (4 to 5 minutes total time). Experiment with the cooking time to see what works for you.
Yes! The broccoli will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days or can be frozen for several months.
Uses/Recipes for Blanched Broccoli
This blanched broccoli recipe is so versatile. I love to add it to soup, stir fry, baked potatoes and salads. Saute it with oil and garlic for a quick side dish or top it with cheese sauce or hollandaise. You can also add it to omelets, scrambled eggs or frittata. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Lightened Up Broccoli Cheese Soup
- Sausage Broccoli Tortellini Skillet from Food Fanatic
- Mac & Cheese with Broccoli & Bacon from Souffle Bombay
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- 1 large pot or Dutch oven
- 1 pot of water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil on high heat. Add salt.
- Cut and clean broccoli heads so that it is all uniform florets with thick stems removed.
- Add broccoli to the boiling water and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Broccoli should be barley tender and keep it's bright green color.
- Drain and add the broccoli to a big bowl of ice water. Drain again.
- Use in recipes, refrigerate or freeze.
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