Your Burning Questions

Worth It or Not Worth It: Shocking Blanched Vegetables

There are so many great conversations on the Hotline—it's hard to choose a favorite. But we'll be doing it, once a week, to spread the wealth of our community's knowledge—and to keep the conversation going.

Today: To shock or not to shock blanched vegetables. 

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Blanching is easy: Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt (a lot), and drop in your vegetables. A quick dip and you have partially-cooked, evenly-seasoned vegetables without any fuss. Plus, blanching doesn't leach out any of the vegetable's color. Pretty ingredients make for pretty finished dishes, logically. 

The age-old blanching question does, however, remain: To shock or not to shock? Shocking—placing vegetables in ice water directly after blanching, as to halt the cooking process—stops vegetables from going to mush. Or at least that's what we've always assumed, which is why we asked if you always shock vegetables in ice water after blanching. Your answers shook-up our preconceived blanching ideas—and gave us a genius idea for an ad hoc ice bath device to boot: 

Worth It

  • "Yes, I do," sexyLAMBCHOPx says. "Especially for a crudité platter."
  • Pegeen does to preserve green vegetables' color. She suggests a salad spinner as a makeshift shocking device (add ice to the outer bowl, fill with water, and simply lift the inner basket out after the vegetables cool).
  • Keg72 says, "I do for green beans—just because they cook so quickly."
  • Kristen W. does so only if she has it "together enough to have a bowl of ice water at the ready."

Not Worth It 

  • Ktr almost never does, but usually blanches vegetables bound for the freezer.
  • The only vegetable Liz D blanches is broccoli; instead of shocking it, she runs cold water over the stalks. 
  • Panfusine takes the same route, opting to run the vegetables "under cold tap water in a colander and shake off the excess water."

Do you always shock vegetables after blanching? Tell us in the comments below! 

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Susie Williams
    Susie Williams
  • Seth Cooper
    Seth Cooper
  • Mark Shulgasser
    Mark Shulgasser
  • Alicia
  • witloof
I fall in love with every sandwich I ever meet.


Susie W. June 22, 2015
I go by the advice of Marcella Hazan and Jeremy Tower. Unless I'm preparing a batch of vegetables for future use, I don't shock. When the green beans, broccoli, etc. start to lose the bright green look, I dip them out with a spider and set them aside. If you're going to serve raw vegetables, that's one thing, but I like my cooked vegetables to be actually cooked and not have that grassy vegetal flavor.
Seth C. June 22, 2015
I find it depends entirely on the meal I'm preparing but as a whole plan to undercook slightly and allow carry over heat to finish the job avoiding the need to use cold water at all regardless of cooking method. I'm not really a fan of boiling vegetables as whole though.
Mark S. June 22, 2015
I dip them in boiling water for a moment, then tell them their entire family has just been killed in a car crash.
MRubenzahl June 22, 2015
LOL. You are so bad.
Alicia June 22, 2015
For green beans heading for a Nicoise salad, run them under cold water. For green beans going into any other salad, I agree with witloof, dry them, and pour dressing over them immediately, as they absorb it beautifully. Carrots heading for a crudite, absolutely blanch and run under cold water or put in the freezer for a few.
witloof June 21, 2015
There is a recipe for green beans in Cooking For Mister Latte where Amanda has you drying them on a tea towel before dressing them while still warm. I like that method! The beans retain their flavor and absorb the dressing better.
chop C. June 20, 2015
I shock haricort verts. I tend to roast veggies than boil them.
Nga June 20, 2015
I find that when I do not overcook my vegetables, I do not need to blanch them. I just run them under cold water to stop the heat from continuing cooking. I just boil my vegetables for 3 minutes, turn off the heat then let them cook for another minute or two before draining them. I also do not put salt so I can save the water to make broth or drink it instead of plain water. I find the water that I cook corn or beets are the best. They are naturally sweet.