We are definitely, positively in the throes of winter braising, roasting, boiling, and baking. And that’s great—for a little while. But we’re especially eager for the coming of spring’s low-maintenance bounty: tangles of pea shoots, slices of radish, leggy asparagus, peas popped directly from pod to mouth. When we do cook these tender little things, it doesn’t take much—and one of our favorite ways to do it is to blanch.
Blanching requires little more than putting a large pot of water on to boil, salting it to an oceanic extreme, and preparing your vegetables: trimming your beans, breaking down a head of broccoli. It serves three purposes: to partially cook vegetables, to season them evenly, and to retain their color—the process both makes your asparagus a brighter shade of springy green, and keeps it greener for longer. As Test Kitchen Director Josh Cohen suggests in the video above, blanching helps “freeze” a vegetable at its peak (and helps you literally freeze it, too—but more on that later).