Small Bites

Tomato Peeling You can lightly blanch a fresh tomato to make it easier to peel. You must immediately plunge the tomato into ice water after blanching so that it does not continue to cook.

Simmering

Simmering is the most commonly used moist cooking method. It can be used to cook food items, or blanch them. Foods should be simmered until they are moist and tender. Like boiling, simmering involves cooking food in liquid. However, during simmering, food cooks slowly and steadily in a slightly cooler liquid that is heated from 185°F to 200°F (85°C to 93°C). The bubbles in the liquid rise slowly to the surface of the liquid, but do not break the surface.

Because of the lower temperature, not as much convection action occurs during simmering. This makes simmering a much more gentle cooking process than boiling. Foods such as yellow squash and zucchini should be fully submerged in the liquid to simmer. The advantages of simmering include less shrinkage of the food, less evaporation and better control over evaporation, and less breakup of fragile food, such as fish.

Simmering is also used to reduce, or decrease the volume of, a liquid. For example, you might want to simmer spaghetti sauce to make it thicker.

Poaching

Poaching is an even gentler method of moist cooking than simmering. To poach means to cook food in a flavorful liquid between 150°F (66°C) and 185°F (85°C). Generally, tender or delicate foods such as fish and eggs are poached in just enough liquid to cover the food. You can poach food on the rangetop or in the oven. Sometimes the poaching liquid is used to make a sauce that accompanies the food when it is served.

Steaming

Steamed vegetables are both tasty and nutritious. Steaming means cooking vegetables or other foods in a closed environment filled with steam, such as in a pot with a tight-fitting lid. Steam is created inside the pot when water reaches the boiling point and turns into vapor. Although the food never touches the liquid, the temperature inside the closed environment rises high enough to cook the food. Steaming is generally faster than other moist cooking techniques.

Gentle Simmer Simmering cooks foods slowly. What are some of the advantages of simmering versus boiling?

If pressure is added during steaming, the temperature inside the pot rises even higher. This cooks the food even faster. A pressure steamer holds steam under pressure. As the pressure increases, so does the temperature. For example, say you cook asparagus at 10 pounds of pressure per square inch (psi) at 240°F (116°C). If you increase the pressure to 15 psi, the temperature will rise to 250°F (121°C). Steamers cook foods, such as vegetables, without dissolving the nutrients.

would you blanch a food?

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