There are a number of techniques used by food manufacturers to reduce the risk of food-borne illness, one of which is blanching. While it’s used mostly for frozen vegetables, blanching is a safe and effective method to kill potentially-dangerous microboes and bacteria. Practically all frozen vegetables sold in the grocery store go through a blanching process before they end up on the shelves. If you’re interested in learning more about this technique and why it’s so effective, keep reading and we’ll give you the breakdown on blanching.
The word blanching actually means to whiten, but this can be somewhat confusing since it doesn’t always affect the colour of the food. There are times when this happens, but the colour of a blanched food typically doesn’t change. In the rare event that it does change the color of a food to white, the manufacturer will likely add a colour agent to give it a more desirable colour.
So what exactly is blanching? In short, it’s the process of cooking a food in boiling water for a short period of time before plunging it into freezing water. Once the food is placed in boiling water, it naturally kills off 99.9% of bacteria and microbes; thereby greatly reducing the chance of food-borne illness. It’s the same principle as boiling pasta or foods at home in your kitchen, except you aren’t freezing them afterwords. The purpose of freezing blanched foods is to preserve them and halt the cooking process.
The most commonly blanched foods include frozen vegetables, frozen fruit, nuts and bacon. These foods seem to hold up well under the stress of boiling water, which is why they are frequently blanched. While the main purpose of this technique is to kill microbes and germs, it oftentimes serves a different purpose – to make the food easier to eat. For instance, boiled peanuts are frequently enjoyed because of their soft texture that’s easy to break into it.
Some food manufacturers also use blanching techniques to remove unpleasant flavors. Certain exotic beans and other vegetables may contain tart or otherwise unwanted flavors that consumers don’t like. Thankfully, however, blanching can help to remove some of these flavors in fast, efficient and safe manner that’s not going to affect the integrity of the food.
French fries are another type of food that’s oftentimes blanched by manufacturers. There’s a key difference, however, in the method used to blanched them. Instead of boiling french fries with water, it’s done with oil. This allows for a hotter temperature, which in turn leads to crispier fries that aren’t soggy. After they are taken out of the oil, they are immediately frozen to better preserve them.
Blanching is a common practice that involves boiling a food for a short period of time before freezing it. Even though its main purpose is to kill germs, it can also make the food easier to consume. Hopefully this will give you a better understanding on how this all-too-common technique is used in the manufacturing business.