Blanching: A Tutorial

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Because if you, like me, are drowning in tomatoes…

And if you, like me have ever had someone say “Blanche? What are you talking about?”

Or even worse, make a reference to a grouchy retiree from an old tv sitcom…

Then this little tutorial is for you. Or them. Or both of you.

So. Blanching. It’s a really quick and easy way to get the skins off of soft-skinned fruits. Think peaches, apricots, plums, tomatoes.

Apparently, it’s also used to prepare some vegetables for canning–but since I’m scared of canning vegetables, well, I can’t say I’ve ever used it that way.

Here are the details:

Step 1: Fill a large stock pot about 2/3 full of water. Put on to boil.

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Step 2: Wash your tomatoes (or other fruit).

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Step 3: Place tomatoes in a metal sieve, colander, or steamer basket. My stock pot came with this awesome piece, which is dead useful. The main thing is that your basket needs to be deep enough to completely submerge your tomatoes in the boiling water–as well as have a handle that you can use to pull them out without getting burned. Alternately, if you don’t have a colander that will work, you could drop the tomatoes in the water, and then fish them out with a slotted spoon. This will work, of course, but I wouldn’t suggest it, because if you’re anything like me, there are just too many ways to splash boiling water when you’re trying to drop them in and fish them out. In addition, when you blanch something, you don’t want to cook it, you just want to flash cook the skin so it will come off. The time it takes to fish all the tomatoes out will likely take long enough that your tomatoes will be cooked, at least partially. It’s more messy to peel cooked tomatoes, but if you’re using them in something that will be cooked anyway, it will still work.

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Step 4: Submerge the tomatoes in the boiling water for 10-15 seconds.

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Step 5: Remove the tomatoes from the boiling water, let drain and cool for several minutes.

Step 6: Cover your working area with a clean kitchen towel. This prevents getting a tomatoey mess all over your counter, as well as helps your working area have a little more traction. Peeled tomatoes are slippery.

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Step 7: Using a sharp paring knife, make a slit in the skin of the tomato.

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Step 8: Slide the skin off.

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Now your tomatoes are ready for sauces, salsas, or bottling!

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Using the kitchen towel is also great because you can just fold it up, and your counter is clean again. Remember to rinse your towel well so it doesn’t stain.Blanching09

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In the next few days, I’ll be chronicling my adventures with salsa. I’ve already made one batch, my first time. While it’s pretty good, it’s not salsa-y enough for me. Tastes kinda like slightly flavored tomatoes. SO, you seasoned salsa makers, tell me what you know: does salsa need to sit for a while and mix flavors? Should I open up a jar and try it now, a week later to see if I like the flavor better? Should I start over with a new recipe, and if so, do you have one I can try?Blanching14

Please! Share your salsa stories and recipes!

9 Replies to “Blanching: A Tutorial”

  1. I’ve never blanched anything before… so I know JUST what you mean when you bring up the grounchy old lady on TV!!! Ha ha ha!!!

    I’ve been the grateful recipient of lots of yummy salsa… but I’ve never made it myself. :S I hope you find a recipe that you love!!! *:D*

  2. Once you get it salsa, are you going to share with your favorite quilting buddy? ( I mean me if you couldn’t figure that out)

  3. Whoever figured out blanching is a genius. We use it around here plenty. Here is a tip my husband has:

    Chop the tomatoes, toss them in salt, put them in a strainer and let them drain 20 to 30 minutes. The salt helps drain excess water, concentrates the tomato flavor and seasons the tomatoes all at the same time.

    Other ingredients my husband uses for a bold flavor are cilantro, jalapeno, minced garlic, green onion, lime juice and white onion (white onion steeped in the lime juice prior to adding to the rest of the salsa)

    Good luck with finding your perfect recipe!

  4. The one step I would add to your blanching process is to immediately put your tomatoes into a sink filled with water and ice so as to stop them from cooking, which they will continue to do if just left to cool. I don’t have a fancy stainer large enough to submerge into boiling water so I to the drop and fish method. I keep a close eye on the tomatoes and when the skin splits – out they come and then go into the ice water. I’ve been making the same salsa recipe for 15 or 16 yrs and my experience is what you put into the bottle is what you get out. In other words, sitting for awhile really won’t change anything. My recipe includes a can of green chilies, chopped onions, green peppers, jalapeno peppers, cayenne, garlic salt, salt and sugar. It then simmers for hours until the desired consistency is reached. I’m happy to share the recipe if anyone is interested.

  5. I think salsa can be pretty individual to what you like. I like mine chunky, so I add onions, green peppers, chiles or jalapenos, salt, pepper, even fresh corn or black beans. The key ingredient in my eye is El Pato sauce. It’s spicy mexican tomato sauce that gives it a little kick and makes it creamier. Otherwise you get pico de gallo instead of salsa. Good luck!

  6. I’ll be chopping up another batch tomorrow – come on over and we can cry together – over the onions of course.
    This is the original – I double it and it makes 7 quarts
    20 tomatoes blanched (make sure to have plenty of ice to put them in once the skins start to come off in the boiling water) and cut by hand. We have several varieties in our garden and 2 smaller ones count as one. As I cut them up I put them in a colander so extra juice drains off which speeds up the “simmer til desired consistency” quicker because we like out thick and chunky (unless you want to bottle salsa juice – see below)
    to the chopped tomatoes add:
    2TBL salt
    4 chopped onions (I use a pampered chef chopper)
    3 jalepenos (I chop these is a small food processor last – just before clean up)
    1 4oz can chopped green chili’s (for the double batch I use a 7oz can)
    2-3 chopped green peppers
    1/2 c apple cider vinegar
    1 tsp garlic salt
    2 tsp cayenne pepper
    Stir all ingredients and bring to simmer, stirring occasionally until desired consistency.
    Process 35 min

    PS Make sure you have plenty of chips in the house while it simmers because several bowls are bound to disappear while it’s cooking down.

    Also, one year when our tomatoes were particularly juicy and Dave was tired of waiting to process it, he scooped up the salsa and drained the juice off through a colander, catching it in a bowl and the processed just the juice. We call it salsa juice and use it for the base of our taco soup. Yum Yum

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