Posted by: DancingQueen | December 22, 2009

How To Boil Water 101

An excerpt from Macbeth, Act IV, Scene I, William Shakespeare:

All. Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
2. Witch. Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

When dealing with cooking with liquids (and basic college survival techniques) boiling water comes out at the top for need-to-know basics.  Boiling water requires a large cylindrical pot (preferably with a lid), water (and possibly a vessel in which to contain said water pre-pot), safety-mittens (or tea towel for touching the pot post heatng), and a slotted spoon, colander, or tongs (depending on what you are making – but we’ll omit the choice of those three for this 101 considering your end result is just the miraculous conversion of water to steam).  Oh, and also some patience (although not much).

Take your pot, make sure there is nothing in it or on or near your stove-top burner, set the pot upon the burner and the temperature of that burner to high.  Fill a vessel (measuring cup, pitcher, etc) with water and add to pot, how much depends on the size of your pot, but make sure to leave room for what you would (theoretically) be adding and some extra space to the top so the pot doesn’t boil over!  Add the lid if you want to speed up the process and wait nearby.  After a few minutes, if you peer inside, there may be a few bubbles.

Small bubbles may be initially from air in the water, but as they increase in number you may be approaching poaching temperature, as the bubbles start to rise you are moving from a slow simmer to a faster simmer (sometimes called a “gentle boil”).  Why “gentle”?   Because when the water really starts moving, big bubbles disturbing what was a quite surface of water, and steam escaping, you have a true boil.  When even stirring doesn’t slow them down, the water has reached a “rolling boil”.

The temperatures at which each of these states occur is affected by many variables such as the weather (seriously) and altitude of the area in which you live.  These two factors can also greatly affect your baked goods.

Chef Gerald Hirigoyen has a wonderful, if very accented, display of the states.  Chef Hirigoyen also makes cooking your veggies look ridiculously simply and his results, vibrantly green brussel sprouts, broccoli and veggie soup look delicious!

Watch Chef Hirogoyen Make Quick Work of Veggies in Under 2 Minutes! (watching time, not cooking time)

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