Blanching is basically submerging food in boiling water to soften texture and preserve color. Young, fresh vegetables, green peas, broccoli and the like as well as vegetables to be frozen, are blanched for a few minutes. At the end of this process they retain their color and crispness. Other vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, leeks, onions and garlic are blanched to lessen their pungency, Cured meats are blanched to reduce their saltiness. The blanching water is always discarded and the blanched food is refreshed immediately. Refreshing is plunging boiled or blanched vegetables into ice water to stop the cooking process.
Here is an ‘easy blanch’ tip for spinach and Swiss chard: Put the leaves in a colander set inside a large bowl. Pour hot water over the leaves and lift the colander. Drain and squeeze water out by pressing on the leaves. And here is another tip to eliminate the messy process of squeezing water out of boiled spinach and other green leaves -simply line a salad spinner with paper towels and scatter the leaves on the towels. Spin the leaves until all excess water is removed. NO MESS! Remove the spinach or leaves and throw out the paper towels.