Yeah, I know…I said that we would crawl our way up the Raw Foods Pyramid one food at a time…one tier at a time…
My family will never be content to eat nutritional yeast and raw sweet potatoes for the rest of their lives.
So instead I have been getting acquainted with all the different cooking methods…what foods work best for which technique…how to use each method in creating not only meals that are healthier, but also more delicious.
I began looking at these different cooking methods by starting with what I thought were “moist cooking methods”…specifially sauteeing, pan frying, and deep frying.
Let’s consider a few characteristics that make certain cooking methods “moist” cooking methods…
1. Moist-heat cooking methods involve cooking food with, or in, some type of liquid—such as steam, water, stock, or wine. Lately I have learned that many people do not consider these three methods to be “moist” cooking methods because…but, hey, we’ve already talked about it…so let’s move on and not join in on that debate.
2. Moist-heat cooking methods involve using lower temperatures—ranging from 140°F to 212°F—(yeah, I know, we just talked about frying foods at 300-ish degrees…just go with it)…
3. Moist-heat cooking methods soften tough fibers—such as meat protein or plant cellulose….which can be good or bad depending on the food that you are figuring out what to do with.
4. Moist-heat cooking methods are typically simple and economical.
5. Moist-heat cooking methods are more likely to preserve and maintain the water-soluble vitamins and other nutrients of the food, taking advantage of that food’s nutritional potential.
6. Moist-heat cooking methods preserve and even add moisture to the food as it is cooking…important for cooking foods that need softening—such as hard vegetables, tough meat or dry grains and beans….
7. Moist-heat cooking methods bring out more of the natural flavor in the food.
We have already looked at sauteeing, pan frying, and deep frying.
Some more common moist-heat cooking methods are…
So let’s get boiling mad together in these next few posts, okay?!
You probably alreadty know how to do this cooking method called boiling…most of us have been boiling stuff since we were making our own macaroni and cheese out of a box when we were teenagers…assuming that you were borb before they started making macaroni and cheese is single-serving microwavable cups.
Yet boiling is a cooking method…and our goal at this point is to learn about all of the most commonly used cooking methods…
So let’s talk about boiling for a while.
What is boiling?
Boiling is a moist-heat cooking method that involves immersing food in a liquid that has been heated to 212 degrees F. This hot liquid then transmits its heat to the food being cooked.
This temperature is called the boiling point…the point where the pressure of the liquid equals the pressure exerted on the liquid by the surrounding atmosphere.
As liquids boil, you will see bubbles forming and then exploding on the surface of the liquid. These bubbles are caused by water vapor rushing to the surface.
The food that you boil should be sturdy enough to withstand the aggressive water without being damaged…because the rough agitation of the water can actually damage the food.
Commonly boiled ingredientsinclude pasta, grains, green vegetables. dried pasta, dried legumes, rice, noodles, potatoes, and eggs.
How long you boil the ingredient depends on several facttos—such as what the ingredient is, your personal preference, how you were brought up….(for example, back in Mississippi we cook our peas along with some bacon practially all day before serving)…how important maintaining the food’s original color, texture, and flavor…whether or not you care if you deplete the nutrients of the ingredient…and so forth…
Ingredients an either be added to cold water and heated along with the water…ior added to the water once the water has already started boilling…depending on the characteristics, of what it is that you are cooking…(more on this later)…
They always say that “a watched pot never boils” because it seems to take forever for water to boil…(never have figured out who “they” are, just go with it)…
ADVANTAGES>>>Yet this simple process of boiling has many advantages, including…
allowing you to cook a large amount of food quickly and easily
boosting the color of green vegetables
breaking them down foods that would otherwise be inedible—such as grains, beans, tougher and cheaper cuts of meat and poultry, and starchy vegetables—so that they are soft enough to eat
helping to disinfect water if necessary during certain circumstances-
keeping your pasta from getting soggy
maintaining the nutrittional value, of your food
making gravy and pan sauces by simplyg adding a splash of white wine or stock to the pan that you’ve just finished cooking in
INGREDIENTS>>>Foods that you will typically boil include…
leafy greens—such as spinach, Swiss chard, and beet greens
potatoes and other root vegetables
TOOLS…As far as tools that you will need in order to boil anything…you’ll need…
Pot..First and foremost, .you will need aarge, heavy-bottomed pot or deep saucepan, preferably with a lid…it is important that you choose a pot that is large enough so that there is enough water to submerge the food completely under the surface.
Potholders…for obvious reasons
Slotted spoon…This will help you remove the food once it has boiled and skim off the top of the surface as the food boils.
Tongs in various sizes
TIPS AND TECHNIQUE
Now as far as cooking, the ingredient being cooked will determine whether the food is added to cold water and then brought to a boil along with the water…or if you first bring the water to a boil and then add your ingredient....(more on this later)…
Three suggestions for making your water boil faster are to…
add a water-soluble substance—such as oil or sugar—to the liquid
make sure that there is no water on the outside of a pot before you start cooking.
put the lid on your pot
As far as keeping the water at the boiling point, be sure to…
add your food a bit at a time
keep the lid on your pot
use plenty of water so that the cooking liquid doesn’t cool down dramatically when you add your food
As far as seasoning the water that you will be boiling your food in…or at least for those of us who can’t cook a dang thing without a recipe…a good rule of thumb is to add 1-1/2tsp salt per quart of water. …(and how many of us actually measure the amount of water that we put into the pot whenever we are boiling things in the first place, even as obsessive-compulsive as I am)…
Boiling food often drains away many of the nutrients, such as water-soluble vitamins, of the food. One good way to avoid this is to serve the cooking liquid as part of the dish —such as in a soup or stew.