> > >
How to steam blanch vegetables

How to steam blanch vegetables

Last updated:
Originally published:

Steam blanching is a critical step in dehydrating many types of vegetables and fruits. Here we cover the basics for learning to steam blanch on the stove and in the microwave.

Blanching is the process whereby food is briefly cooked in boiling water, steam, or syrup, such that it destroys enzymes that catalyze the reactions of food spoilage. When drying food, blanching also serves to weaken the fibers on the surface of the fruit or vegetables, allowing dehydration (and rehydration) to occur more efficiently. It also helps to prevent discoloration and completely kills any microbes on or near the surface of the produce, slowing spoilage during dehydration.

Steam blanching is typically the preferred blanching method when dehydrating vegetables, though water blanching also will suffice if you don't have a blanching basket. The biggest downside to water blanching is that more nutrients will be lost when the vegetables or fruit is fully submerged in the water.

Steam blanching

Steam blanching can be done on the stove or in the microwave.

Steam blanching on the stove:

Stainless steel or bamboo steaming baskets can be found at most department stores or thrift stores. These are highly recommended. Steamer pans will also work.

  1. Choose a sauce pan that comfortably fits your steaming basket with the lid on.
  2. Place an inch or two of water in the bottom of the pan and bring to a full boil.
  3. Add the steamer basket containing your prepared vegetables or fruit and cover the pan tightly with the lid.
  4. Carefully time your blanching per recipe so as not to over-cook your produce. As a rule of thumb, this will be about half of the cooking time as you would normally use to fully cook the vegetables.
  5. As soon as the food has been steamed for the recommended time, immediately remove it from the heat, and run cool water over it to stop it from cooking any further.

Steam blanching in the microwave:

Steam blanching in the microwave is quick and easy. You will just need a microwave-safe dish with a lid (a bowl with a plate over the top will usually do the trick).

  1. Wash, peel, and slice the vegetables or fruit as desired for drying.
  2. Place the vegetables in a microwave-safe bowl and add a splash of water.
  3. Cover the bowl with a microwave-safe lid or plate, and microwave on high for half the time it would take to fully cook the vegetables in the microwave. You may need to try fully cooking a batch of the vegetables to get a feel for how long this will take in your microwave.
  4. Pause the microwave once or twice to stir the vegetables or fruit to ensure even cooking.
  5. When cooking is finished, immediately rinse the vegetables or fruit under cool running water to halt the cooking.
Our Top 3 Favorite Backpacking Cookbooks Reviewed

These are some of the best backpacking cookbooks available! Get them from Amazon below.

#1 - Recipes for Adventure
Recipes for Adventure

Review: Recipes for Adventure is a top-notch cookbook with thorough but simple instructions for every step from dehydrating to preparing the final meal in the backcountry. If I were going to rely on a single cookbook for learning the art of backcountry cooking, this would be the one. It is an outstanding resource.

#2 - Lipsmackin' Backpackin'
Lipsmackin' Backpackin'

Review: This popular cookbook is back as a fresh second edition. It offers a wide variety of battle-tested recipes gathered from years of thru-hiking experience on the PCT. If you’re comfortable with dehydrating foods and are looking for inspiration for new trail food ideas, this is a great source.

#3 - A Fork in the Trail
A Fork in the Trail

Review: With recipes like African Chicken and Blueberry-Orange Tea Cake, this isn't your typical backpacking cookbook. The recipes are more involved than some people might like, but if you enjoy cooking, you'll be thrilled at the quality of the meals described in this book. This is a must-read if you want to take your backcountry culinary skills to the next level.