When you think about cooking dinner, water is probably not an ingredient that you would factor into your meal preparation. In fact, water is actually a key component in many different ways, such as washing, cooking and even as a part of the food itself. Many foods have a high water content, and the method used during the cooking process will alter this. Let’s take a closer look at three tips to bear in mind next time you use water in the preparation and cooking process.
1. Water Quality Matters
Most people wouldn’t use inferior quality ingredients in their food and yet they pay little attention to the quality of their water. Modern water supplies are clean enough for use, but many homes suffer from hard water issues. Hard water contains high quantities of minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, which can alter the properties of food. This can drastically affect both the cooking process and the quality of the meal. If you spend a lot of time preparing dinner or baking and your meals don’t reflect your efforts, your water quality may be to blame. Higher levels of chlorine can also affect the taste of your food and the drinks that you make with your water. If any of these issues concern you, installing a water softener and perhaps a reverse osmosis system may be a good move.
2. Simmering vs. Boiling
These are two very basic cooking techniques that appear to be similar, but they are entirely different.
Simmering is a gentler method compared to boiling, and it’s a slower way to cook. It’s the best choice for more delicate foods, such as moist meat, fish, and lighter vegetables. Simmering water should have noticeable movement when ready, but the bubbles will not be breaking the surface. The temperature used will be lower, this is typically a medium-low heat, and you will need to monitor the cooking process closely.
Boiling water has a lot of rapid movement, and the bubbles will continuously be breaking the surface. This is a great way to cook food quickly, making it an ideal method to avoid soggy pasta. When green vegetables are prepared this way, they retain their true flavor and have a more vivid color. Boiling is also an excellent method to use when reducing sauces to thicken the texture and intensify the flavor.
3. Water as a Solvent
It’s important to remember in cooking that water is a highly effective solvent that can dissolve many materials. This is an important factor in water quality issues and one of the main ways that water can become contaminated. In cooking, we can use this to our advantage to dissolve sugars, salts and other minerals into the cooking water. Many cooking ingredients are easily soluble, and they will affect the flavor of the meals that you prepare. This is particularly useful to know when preparing soups or stews where the flavored water content is a primary part of the meal.
With more than 25 years experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Terry is a WQA (Water Quality Association) certified water specialist, LEVEL 3, as well as a WQA certified sales representative. Terry currently sits on EcoWater Systems (a Berkshire Hathaway Company) national Peers committee, as a water treatment expert advising other water professionals with less experience on best trade and technology practices. EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is one of the biggest water treatment and water delivery businesses in the state.