When you have worked hard to prepare a home cooked meal, it can be disappointing when it doesn’t turn out as it should. While you may be left pondering about why your amazing meal didn’t taste quite right, or your baked goods failed to properly rise, you may have overlooked that it could be due to one key ingredient; water. Water is needed to prepare many meals and dishes, so if you have hard water, it could have a profound effect on what you can serve at your dining room table. With over 80% of U.S homes having a hard water supply, the magnesium, calcium and other particles in the water can affect the color and flavor of your foods, making working in the kitchen even more challenging.
Hard Water and Baking:
Baking is considered part science and part art form. Natural bakers can pull perfectly baked items out of their ovens with apparent ease. Unfortunately, if you have hard water, you may struggle even if you have a natural gift for baking.
The dissolved minerals contained in your hard water can have an effect on the structure of gluten in the flour used for baked foods. It can also impact ingredient performance including yeast. Depending on the water hardness level, you may find that you experience undesirable results every time you bake including rubber, tough cakes, cookies, and breads.
The hardness minerals make it difficult for the protein or gluten in the flour to absorb moisture. Extremely hard water can even slow yeast fermentation, causing a tightening effect, closing the texture of your breads and doughs.
Another consideration for your baking is the water pH level. Hard water tends to have a higher pH, making it more alkaline. Unfortunately, baking experts recommend slightly acidic water when baking to encourage optimum yeast performance.
The dissolved minerals in your hard water can also have an effect on the appearance and texture of foods. When you are blanching or boiling vegetables in hard water, they can lose some color and become tough.
Hard water can also increase the cooking time for many foods such as beans. You may also find that rice has a harder texture and some foods feel tougher. Hard water can also take longer to reach boiling point. This may appear to be a minor issue, but if you are in a hurry to prepare a meal for your family, every minute counts.
Other Water Quality Issues Affecting Foods:
There are other chemicals and contaminants in your water supply that may impact your performance in the kitchen. For example, chlorine is often added to municipal supplies as a disinfectant, but any traces remaining in your water can impact your cooking. You may notice a chlorine taste or odor, but it can also create a “bleaching” effect, making your foods look dull and lacking vibrancy.
It is important to understand that if you don’t particularly like the odor or flavor of your water, it is likely to be affecting your foods. Foods that absorb water during cooking are also likely to be absorbing the unpleasant smells and flavors.
Fortunately, there is a solution. You local water treatment specialist can advise you of the systems available to address your water quality issues. By choosing a fully WQA certified professional, you can have confidence that your device exceeds the industry standards and will improve your performance in the kitchen.
About The Author, Terry Reeh, EcoWater Systems of Nebraska:
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.