Boiling And Steaming

Nearly all vegetables may be cooked by boiling or by steaming.These are the two most frequently used methods because they are easy, economical, and adaptable to a great variety of preparations.

Boiling and steaming are basic cooking methods. In most cases, additional steps are required after the basic cooking is completed in order to make the product ready for serving.These steps include adding butter, seasonings, flavorings,and sauces.

Unless they are to be served immediately, boiled or simmered vegetables are drained as soon as they are cooked and then cooled quickly under cold water. This is called shocking or refreshing, and it prevents the vegetables from being overcooked in their retained heat. Normally, they are then reheated quickly by sauteing in butter or other fat. Seasonings and sauces can be added at this stage.We classify this cooking method as boiling even though the vegetables are finished by sauteing to reheat them. This section includes recipes for boiled vegetables finished with a variety of sauces, flavorings, and seasonings.

In other cases, the product is only partially cooked by boiling or steaming and is finished by another cooking method, such as sauteing or baking. Recipes of this sort are usually included under the final cooking method.

We speak of the cooking method as boiling even though,in many cases,simmering is a more appropriate term. Green vegetables are generally boiled so they cook quickly, preserving color and nutrients. In many cases, however, the agitation and high temperature of boiling break up delicate vegetables, and simmering is more appropriate.

Steaming as a method for cooking vegetables is becoming more and more widely used, especially as more varieties of advanced equipment become available. It may be the ideal method for cooking certain vegetables, such as broccoli, that easily break or turn watery or mushy when simmered.

Procedure for Boiling Vegetables_

1. Collect all equipment and food products.

2. Trim, peel, and cut vegetables as required. See pages 514-534 for prep requirements.

3. Add the required amount of water to the pot (saucepot, steam-jacketed kettle, tilting skillet, or whatever equipment you are using).

Most vegetables are cooked in just enough water to cover, but many green vegetables and strong-flavored vegetables may be cooked in a large quantity of water (2 or 3 times their volume). See page 511 for discussion.

4. Add salt (approximately 1/2-2 tablespoons per gallon of water/6-8 grams per liter) and bring to a boil.

5. Place the vegetables in the pot and return the water to a boil.

6. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook the vegetables, covered or uncovered, as indicated, to required doneness.

• Green vegetables and strong-flavored vegetables are cooked uncovered.

• Other vegetables are cooked covered.

7. Drain the vegetables quickly to avoid overcooking.

8. If the vegetables are to be served at once, complete the recipe and serve.

9. If the vegetables are not to be served at once, cool them (except potatoes and starchy vegetables) in cold water, drain as soon as cool, and refrigerate until needed.

Procedure for Steaming Vegetables

This method is used both for pressurized and nonpressurized compartment steam cookers and for simple range-top steamers that consist of a per

forated basket over a pot of boiling water.


Know your equipment. Read all operating instructions supplied with your equipment. Each model is a little different.


Collect all equipment and food products.


Trim and cut vegetables as required.


Preheat the steamer.


Arrange vegetables in pans or baskets for cooking. Make shallow, even layers for uniform cooking.

• Use perforated pans for best steam circulation.

• Use solid pans if cooking liquid must be retained.


Insert pans or baskets in steamer and close door or lid.


Steam for required time. Consult timing charts supplied with your model of steamer.


Remove vegetables from steamer. If it is a pressure steamer, pressure must return to zero before door is opened.


Finish vegetables according to recipe and serve at once, or cool quickly for later use.

Vegetables that form compact layers do not steam well. They do not allow the steam to circulate, so they cook unevenly. Examples: spinach and

other greens, peas, whole-kernel corn, frozen pureed squash.

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