Bleaching is a method of food preparation in which vegetables are cooked for a short time – in boiling water or steamed – and then immediately cooled in a bowl of ice water. When done correctly, bleaching the broccoli will preserve the vegetable's light green color and crunchy texture. See below for two methods of whitening broccoli.
Method 1 of 2: Water Bleaching
Step 1. Prepare the broccoli
Wash and cut the broccoli to the desired size. Try to make cuts the same size to ensure they cook evenly.
Step 2. Boil the water
Fill 2/3 of a large pot with water. Cover the pan and place it on the stove over high heat.
When the water starts to boil, add a tablespoon of salt to the water. Adding salt not only adds some spice, it also raises the boiling point of the water. This helps to cook food more efficiently
Step 3. Prepare the ice water bath
While you're waiting for the water to boil, fill a large bowl with cold water and some ice cubes. Set the bowl aside.
Step 4. Cook the broccoli
When the water starts to boil, carefully place the cut broccoli into the pan. Start counting the bleaching time as soon as the water comes back to a boil.
- For pieces of broccoli approximately 4 cm in diameter, cook for about 3 minutes. Adjust the cooking time according to the size of the cut pieces.
- The broccoli should be light green and firm (though slightly softened) when you take it out of the pan.
Step 5. Cool them down
Remove broccoli with a slotted spoon, small sieve, or drain in a colander. Immediately place the broccoli in ice water to stop the cooking process.
Remove the broccoli from the cold water after 30 seconds and drain it again in the colander
Step 6. Serve
As with other vegetables, broccoli bleaching can be the primary cooking method or it can be the first step before performing another procedure, such as sautéing.
Secondary cooking methods (such as sautéing) add flavor to vegetables usually without cooking them as much as necessary. Bleaching is a great way to pre-cook vegetables to add them to other methods
Method 2 of 2: Steam Bleaching
Steam bleaching can be a primary cooking method or a pre-freezing preparation. This method maintains the color, nutrition and texture of the vegetables. Vegetables blanched before freezing retain up to 1300% more vitamin C and other nutrients than frozen vegetables that have not been bleached.
Step 1. Clean and prepare the broccoli
Cut the broccoli into evenly sized pieces for better cooking.
Step 2. Prepare steam
Fill a large pot with 2, 5 to 5 cm of water and heat. Place vegetables in a steam basket above the water line. Cover the pan and prepare a bowl of ice water as explained above.
Try to arrange the broccoli pieces in a single layer to ensure the steam reaches all parts of the broccoli evenly
Step 3. Set the steaming time
When the steam starts to escape, start counting the bleaching time.
- Steam broccoli bleaching takes approximately 5 minutes.
- Halfway through the cooking time, remove the lid and check that the cut pieces are still well positioned so that they cook evenly.
Step 4. Stop the cooking process
When the broccoli is cooked, remove the steam basket from the pan and immediately place the broccoli in an ice-water bath.
Step 5. Complete the bleaching
After the broccoli has cooled in ice water, drain it in a colander and let it dry before eating, or wrap it if you want to freeze it.
- Freeze the whitened broccoli in an airtight plastic bag for later use.
- Use whitened broccoli in dressings or salads.
- Reheat the whitened broccoli for just 1 or 2 minutes when using it in other dishes.
- Mix them together in a pasta recipe or fry them just before the main course is finished cooking.
- Bleaching for more than 2 minutes will fade the color of the vegetable, creating a soft, mushy texture.
- Not using enough water and leaving vegetables partially exposed will result in uneven cooking. Use plenty of water to cover the broccoli when cooking.