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How to Boil Water (There's More To It Than You Think!)

November 29th, 2011 Cooking

Boiling water just requires putting the liquid in a pot and turning the heat up, right? Well, this is true to some degree, but there's actually more to it than that when preparing a meal. Cooking is all about precision, and being able to manipulate water is a fundamental skill that will make the rest of your experience much better.

There are many states of water besides resting and boiling. Poaching, for instance, is a technique that calls for water to boil gently, with few bubbles, and is reserved for delicate foods like eggs and fish. Simmering is the next level up - you use this for items that require a long time to cook. And, of course, boiling is when the water is at its maximum temperature.

A common misconception is that salt makes water boil faster. Technically, salt raises the boiling point of water, but in the amounts you would be using, it's virtually imperceptible. Use salt for seasoning any food you'll be putting in the water.

When you start cooking, use a pot that gives you a lot of extra space. The last thing you need is furiously boiling water splashing and popping over the edge. Don't forget to take into account the space that will be displaced by all the ingredients you'll be using. When in doubt, use the biggest pot you have. It may take longer to boil, but it's better than spilling half of your soup on the counter.

Once the water is boiling, you can turn the heat down to achieve the level you need. Keeping the stove at the highest heat is just going to cause the water to boil away faster, and in some cases this might end up ruining your recipe.