The Best Tips for Boiling, Blanching and Stewing Your Food

Cooking can be both a joy and a chore. If you’re just starting your culinary journey, here are three classic preparation methods that’ll let you make various delicious recipes. For those who already have some experience, you might find some hacks that’ll make cooking easier or more efficient.

Boiling

Boiling is one of the most basic ways of preparing food, typically vegetables. It’s a quick and handy method for making complete dishes or to include in your meal prep routine. Boiling something means completely immersing it in either water or stock at 100° C for a time.

If you’re cooking leafy or green vegetables, start by putting them into boiling, salted water. After adding the veggies, return the water to a boil as soon as you can. You can make that go faster if you cover the pot with a lid, but remove it as soon as the boiling point is reached again. Cooking greens or leafy ingredients with the lid off will prevent losing color.

If you’re boiling root vegetables, start with cold water. This helps to draw out certain chemicals from the veggies that give them an acrid flavor. Unlike greens and leafy vegetables, root crops can be covered with a lid for the whole cooking time. If you want to salt them, do so only after the water has reached the boiling point. Meat is generally also boiled starting with cold water, especially cured meats, to remove the excess salt.

In addition, here are some tips related to your boiling medium itself:

  • Replenish any water/stock that evaporates. The food should always be covered with liquid.
  • Remove any scum (foamy stuff) that rises to the surface during cooking.
  • Drain away the water/stock as soon as the food is cooked and replace it with cold water. Otherwise, the cooking process won’t stop.

There’s also parboiling, which means half-cooking ingredients in salted water. The preparation process is completed by another method, e.g. roasting.

Keep in mind that your hot water system might affect the quality of these processes. Consider its overall condition, type – heat pump, electric, gas, or solar – and age. Maybe some maintenance work or an outright replacement would be a good idea if it’s old. You could browse some dedicated pages, like Rheem Gas Hot Water System prices, to see what options exist and what fits your household budget.

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Blanching

Blanching can be considered a variation of boiling. It means to expose ingredients to boiling water or frying medium (e.g. hot oil) for a short bit. Blanching has a few purposes:

  • To reduce total cooking time
  • To remove the bitter taste from vegetables such as fennel
  • To set the blood albumin in meat so that the resulting sauce or stock won’t get cloudy
  • To make it easier to peel the skin off vegetables, fruits, or nuts

It’s also popular in food preservation, where there are different methods of doing it.

The trick with blanching is fast refreshment, i.e. stopping the cooking process as quickly as possible. If starting with cold water, it’s done as soon as it reaches a boil. If starting with boiling water, the food is usually blanched for around 10 seconds. To refresh it, either place it under cold running water or immerse it in a container of iced water.

Stewing

Stewing means simmering food for a long time so that the final dish will be thick. On that note, “simmering” means to cook something in the water or other liquid over low heat, kind of like a gentler version of boiling.

Stewing is a very slow cooking process. It’s typically done with the pot covered, although the lid can be removed towards the end to let some of the liquid evaporate and make the stew thicker. The final product can be thickened even further by adding certain agents such as cornstarch or flour.

If meat is an ingredient, it can be floured or browned at the start of the cooking process. This also contributes to the thickness of the dish. Another handy tip is to start the stew on the stovetop and finish it in the oven.