Friday, June 22, 2012

Blanching Your Vegetable Harvest

Gardening Jones, Blanching some Beans
I was reading an excellent article the other day by fellow vegetable gardening enthusiast, Gardening Jones. The article titled, Blanching Veggies was about blanching the peas from her harvest.

This got me thinking about the basics of the blanching process in general. What is blanching? How do you blanch? Is it worth it? Those sorts of questions. In that same article above, there is a link to an excellent piece of information about blanch times for specific vegetables, titled Freezing the Harvest. Be sure to bookmark this link as it will come in handy, once you read below of the importance blanching plays with your own harvest.

So first, let’s start with understanding what blanching is. Blanching is the process by which you plunge your fruits,nuts,vegetables, etc. into boiling water for a short amount of time, then remove it and immediately plunge them into an ice water bath stopping the cooking process in its tracks.

It is a very simple process but you may be asking, why you would want to do this. While many blanching professionals have their own reasons, there are a few popular ones that relate directly to us home vegetable gardeners.

As you may know already from growing your own food, that many varieties, such as peas and beans are going to yield great production. From the moment that you pick them the process by which the veggie starts losing flavor, vitamins, freshness and so on begins. Unless you are going to use them right away, you can blanch them to preserve all of those previously mentioned characteristics.

Blanching your veggies is going to keep them crisp as opposed to “mushy” when you cook them, which makes them taste very fresh. Blanching, especially when it comes to tomatoes, will soften the skin, making them easier to peel, which comes in very handy when you begin canning all of those extra tomatoes you are growing.

For us vegetable gardeners, blanching is very important, especially when you go to freeze those veggies. If you harvest your veggies and vacuum seal them without doing anything, place them in a freezer and then come January when you take them out to use, as they thaw they will become soggy. Believe me there is nothing more disgusting then eating soggy carrots. By blanching them first, you will help preserve, the flavors and texture and just as important, the nutrient content.

As a side note, blanching makes it easy to remove peels from peanuts and almonds. I just recently planted an almond tree, so I just had to mention it.

On the final question of, “Is it worth it?”, my answer would be absolutely Yes! Just think, how many beans you will get from a handful of plants. You know what I am talking about if you have grown beans. Blanching gives you the ability to enjoy fresh beans all winter long, when growing them is no longer possible.

For more information on how you can keep and preserve more of your harvest, be sure to check out Nancy Chioffi’s book Keeping the Harvest: Preserving Your Fruits, Vegetables and Herbs (Down-to-Earth Book) , which is an illustrated step-by-step instruction book that explains the techniques for canning, freezing, drying, and pickling.

About the Author
Mike Podlesny is the author of Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the rest of us, the moderator for the largest vegetable gardening page on Facebook and creator of the monthly Seeds Club.

Watch the video below to learn more about Mike`s Seeds of the Month Club:

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