Boiling vegetables is really super easy. But if you don’t do it right, you can end up with watery, flavorless, tired looking veggies, instead of bright and tasty ones. The key is to cook each vegetable just right so that you lose as little flavor, color and nutrient value as possible during the boiling process.
One of the most important things to keep in mind is that boiling leeches nutrients out of the vegetables, and so the goal is to have them in water as little time as possible, while still getting them cooked!
In this article, I’ll go over the preparation work you need to do, and then I’ll talk about how to boil vegetables.
The nice thing about boiling vegetables is that there’s really no complicated preparation work involved. All you need to do is get your vegetables ready, and get your water ready. But there are a few things you want to keep in mind.
Preparing The Vegetables
No matter what vegetables you’re using, there are a few things you need to do to get them ready for boiling.
- Wash the vegetables. Whether you’re using organic or mass-produced veggies, you need to do this. Gently scrubbing the vegetables under lukewarm water is the best way to go.
- Cut up the vegetables into chunks.
- The smaller the chunks, the faster they’ll cook. That means less nutrient loss, but it also means that it’s a little bit harder to get them to stay just a bit crisp.
- The chunks should be evenly-sized, so that they cook evenly. Otherwise, smaller pieces will be ready before bigger ones.
- It’s best to cut them not too long before you’re ready to boil them, so that they stay fresher. You can also cut them ahead of time and keep them fresh in water, bu that tends to make the vegetables a bit mushy and waterlogged.
And that’s pretty much all there is to it!
Getting The Water Ready
So you might be wondering what you need to do to get the water ready. It’s just boiling water, right? But to get the best possible results, there are a few things to keep in mind. Remember, the goal is to cook the vegetables as fast as possible. The less time they spend in the water, the less nutrients and flavor they lose.
- No matter which vegetable you use, it’s best to bring the water to boil before adding the vegetables. And if you cover the pot, the water will boil faster.
- If you add the vegetables when the water is already hot, you don’t need to boil them as long, and you won’t lose as many nutrients.
- For green vegetables, you should use as much water as possible. The more water you use, the less it’ll cool down when you add the vegetables.
- This is important for green vegetables, because it’s best not to cover them when you boil them. Yes, it’ll help the water get hotter faster, but it’ll also cause the acids and chlorophyll in the boiling vegetables to react, and the veggies will lose their bright green color.
- For any other vegetables, you should use as little water as possible – just enough to completely cover the veggies when you add them to the water.
- The less water you use, the less nutrient loss. And if you’re not using green veggies, you can cover the pot to get the water boiling again really quickly.
- A little bit of salt goes a long way when you’re boiling vegetables. It serves two purposes.
- Salt raises the boiling point of water. That means the water boils hotter, and cooks your vegetables faster. And that means less time in the water for your veggies.
- The right amount of salt will enhance the vegetables’ flavor. You don’t want to use so much salt that they taste salty, but a bit will make the vegetables taste better. Half a teaspoon to a teaspoon of salt per quart (liter) of water will do the trick.
- Bring the water to a boil before adding the salt. The water will boil a bit more vigorously for a second when you do, but it’ll ensure that the salt is dissolved right away. If you add it before boiling, it could deposit on the bottom. Depending on what your pot is made of, the salt could react with it and discolor it.
Once your veggies are chopped and the water is boiling, it’s time to boil the vegetables.
Boiling The Vegetables
Now that your vegetables are cut into chunks, and you have some boiling, salted water, we can talk about boiling vegetables.
Here what you need to do:
- Add the vegetables to the boiling water. You can just drop them in, in which case you should watch out for splashes, or you can lower them in using a spoon.
- Bring the water temperature back up.
- For green vegetables, leave the pot uncovered and keep the heat high. It’ll help preserve the green color.
- For other vegetables, cover the pot. You can reduce the heat, so long as the water stays at a boil.
- Cook the vegetables until they’re done. Depending on what vegetables you used and how big the pieces are, it’ll take more or less time. The best way to tell if they’re done is to taste a piece every so often. When it tastes done, it’s done!
- A lot of people like their cooked veggies to still be a little crispy. But however you like them best it the best way to do it. But remember, the more you boil a vegetable, the more nutrients it loses!
- Remove the vegetables from the water. You can take them out with a slotted spoon, or drain the water out of the pot.
- If you’re not serving the vegetables right away, you can immerse them in ice water for a few seconds. That’ll stop the cooking process, so that they don’t become overcooked after you take them out of the water. To reheat them, immerse them in boiling water for a few seconds.
Once the vegetables are done boiling, they’re ready to serve as is, but you can always add a bit of butter or seasonings for some extra flavor.
And that’s all there is to it! Boiling vegetables is so easy, and so convenient. The trick is knowing how to deal with the vegetable you have.