How to Blanch Cabbage

Blanch individual cabbage leaves one at a time.
Blanch individual cabbage leaves one at a time. (Image: bentaboe/iStock/Getty Images)

Keep your kraut crispier and your bok choy chewier by making blanching the first step in preparation. Blanching puts an end to the damage caused by certain enzymes in brassicas -- the enzymes responsible for loss of color, flavor and aroma, as well as those that create unpleasant bitterness. There is a fine line between blanching and boiling, and it only takes a few seconds to over-blanch cabbage and start cooking it. Time the blanching period, cool down the cabbage quickly, then drain it well and you'll preserve its best qualities without losing any of its bite.

Things You'll Need

  • Wire basket (optional)
  • Tongs

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Cut the stem off the cabbage, and quarter it or shred it. Leave the core intact to hold the leaves together if blanching shredded cabbage.

Fill a pot large enough to hold a cabbage head with water and bring it to a boil. If blanching shredded cabbage, place a wire basket in the pot.

Fill a bowl large enough to hold a head of cabbage 3/4 full of ice and top it off with cold water.

Place the cabbage in the water or basket. Start timing the blanching when the water returns to a boil; blanch cabbage wedges for 3 minutes, and blanch shredded cabbage for 1 1/2 minutes.

Transfer the cabbage to the ice water using tongs after the blanching time elapses. Let the cabbage chill in the ice water for the same amount of time you blanched it for.

Drain the cabbage in a colander or on a wire rack for several minutes, then pat dry with paper towels. Use the cabbage as is or pack it into food-storage bags.

Tips & Warnings

  • To blanch cabbage for cabbage rolls, hold one cabbage leaf at a time in the boiling water for 30 seconds and place it in the ice bath.


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