Results 1 to 10 of 10
  1. #1
    Member beano's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Last Online
    14-05-2018 @ 02:42 PM
    Posts
    821

    Interesting Cooking Myths and Facts

    Searing meat seals in the juices

    This old saw has been around for ages, probably because searing meat that will be stewed, roasted, etc. does indeed give much better results. It has nothing to do with sealing in the juices, however. Careful experiments were performed in which identical pieces of meat were cooked with and without searing. If searing did seal in juices, then the seared meat would lose a smaller percentage of its weight during cooking than the unseared piece. In actuality, both the seared and unseared meat lost about the same amount of weight.
    Searing, or more specifically browning, is important because of the Maillard reaction. When the proteins and sugars in meat are exposed to high heat (searing) a large number of chemical reactions take place, resulting in the creation of lots of new flavor elements. It is these flavors, both in the browned surface of the meat and in any pan juices that result, that make searing such an important step in some recipes.
    Source: On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee, Simon & Schuster, 1984.
    "Real" chili cannot contain beans or tomatoes

    You hear this on a regular basis, mostly from Texans who you would think would not want to provide support for the stereotype of Texans as stupid. The fact is that many delicious traditional (and non-traditional) chilis are made with beans and/or tomatoes. Of course, some places do horrid things with chili (may God have mercy on Cincinnati). There is in fact some basis for this myth. Traditional Texas-style chili is usually made without beans or tomatoes, but that's just one regional variant.
    A box of baking soda in the fridge or freezer absorbs odors

    This is a very clever and successful marketing ploy by the baking soda people, but the fact is that baking soda is very poor at absorbing odors. It seems to make sense, however, so lots of people have spent untold billions of dollars to put boxes of baking soda in their fridge or freezer to no effect. Activated charcoal would work much better but is expensive. Better to wrap your food and clean the fridge once in a while.
    Source: Baking Soda and Odors
    When baking muffins, you should put water in any empty cups in the muffin tin I am surprised to find this in respectable cookbooks, but it just ain't so. The idea is that a muffin that is not surrounded by other muffins, but has an empty cup on one or more sides, will heat faster and cook unevenly. But think for a moment - even if your muffin tin is full, the muffins in the corners have other muffins on only 2 sides, and they always cook fine (unless there's a problem with your oven). So, skip the water - try it if you don;t believe me.
    All thickening agents are created equal

    A common technique in cooking is to use a starch to thicken a liquid such as a gravy or sauce. Wheat starch (flour) and corn starch are perhaps the most common, but potato starch, arrowroot, and tapioca are also used. Does it matter which one you use? Most definitely. These agents differ in several ways.
    • Flavor: does the thickening agent add its own flavor to the sauce or is it neutral in taste?
    • Thickening power: just how thick can you go?
    • Consistency: the molecular structure of some starches results in long strands that can give the sauce a stringy texture.
    • Stability: will the sauce remain thick with long cooking or will it thin out?
    • Appearance: is the resulting sauce clear or opaque?

    Consistency Maximum thickness Stability Flavor Appearance Wheat (flour) Smooth + Good Strong* Opaque Corn Smooth ++ Moderate Strong Opaque Potato Stringy ++++ Poor Mild Clear Tapioca Stringy +++ Poor None Clear Arrowroot Stringy +++ Good None Clear * If the flour is cooked in fat before being added to the liquid, the flour flavor in the final result will be greatly reduced.
    Source: On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee, revised edition, 2004.
    Use water instead of milk when making scrambled eggs and omelets

    Some people will tell you that using milk when making scrambled eggs and omelets results in tough eggs - that you should use water instead. It's puzzling how this myth continues to propagate because it is so easy to disprove for yourself. But if you require the pronouncement of some authority, tests by Cook's Illustrated (the "America's Test Kitchen" people) revealed that scrambled eggs made with water are less flavorful, do not fluff as well, and are not as soft as those made with milk. Cream is better still, but that's another story!
    By the way, this advice is for eggs cooked to be moist and creamy, the way they should be. I know some people prefer the dry, fluffy style but all we can do is feel sorry for them.
    Source: The Best Recipe, Boston Common Press, 1999.
    Sushi means raw fish

    Many people think that "sushi" is synonymous with raw fish. Not so - the term actually refers to the vinegared rice. This is made by dissolving sugar in vinegar (usually rice vinegar) and tossing with the hot, just-cooked rice. Sushi therefore refers to vinegared rice served with other ingredients which may or may not include fish (which in turn may be raw or cooked). The rice itself is referred to as shari. Raw fish served by itself without the rice is called sashimi.
    Lobsters scream with pain when boiled

    It's commendable that people do not want to inflict pain on animals, but this one is false on two accounts. First of all, pain doesn't just happen automatically - it is the result of specific receptors, nerve pathways, and brain regions all cooperating to convert certain physical stimuli into the unpleasant perception of pain. This has all been thoroughly worked out in humans and other vertebrates. But guess what - lobsters and other crustaceans are not vertebrates and simply do not have these nerve pathways and brain regions (they don't have a real brain at all, for that matter). In other words, no brain, no pain (sorry, I couldn't resist that one!).
    Can we know for absolutely positively 100% sure that lobsters don't feel pain? No, because there's no way for us to directly experience what they do and do not feel. That should not stop us from making educated guesses. I feel pretty sure that eyeless cave fish cannot see, and I have no doubt that you would feel pretty much the same pain that I would if you touch a hot stove, even though I cannot directly experience what the cave fish or you experience.
    What about the "scream" that lobsters sometime emit when dropped in the boiling water? There's the problem that lobsters have no throat, no vocal cords, no lungs, so how could they scream at all? The fact is that the noise is caused by air trapped in the shell. When heated it expands and forces itself out through small gaps, causing the sound.
    When you add alcohol to a recipe it all evaporates during cooking so there is none in the final dish

    Here's another "common sense" myth that turns out to be false. Alcohol has a lower boiling point than water so it should all evaporate first, right? Nope - that's not the way it works. The alcohol will evaporate faster than the water but there will still be some left after even extended cooking. The table below shows just how much is left after different periods of cooking.
    Preparation Method Percent of Alcohol Retained Alcohol added to boiling liquid & removed from heat 85% Alcohol flamed 75% No heat, stored overnight 70% Baked, 25 minutes, alcohol not stirred into mixture 45% Baked/simmered, alcohol stirred into mixture: 15 minutes 40% 30 minutes 35% 1 hour 25% 1.5 hours 20% 2 hours 10% 2.5 hours 5% The bottom line is that no one is ever going to get tipsy from alcohol in a cooked dish, but people who want to avoid all alcohol for religious or medical reasons need to be aware that some alcohol will remain even after long cooking.
    Source: US Department of Agriculture Nutrient Data Laboratory
    Hot pan, cold oil

    This mantra is repeated by many people as the best way to prevent food from sticking to the pan when sautéing or stir frying. The idea is that you heat up the pan first then add the cold oil and almost immediately add the food. This works of course, so it is not a myth in that it is untrue. It is, however, false to think that this is the only or the best way to prevent sticking. What you really want is "hot pan, hot oil" and that's what you are actually getting because the cold oil heats up almost instantly when added to the hot pan. You'll get the same results if you heat the oil along with the pan rather than adding the oil at the last minute. In fact some cooks prefer this technique because the appearance of the oil in the pan can give you some indication of when the pan has reached the proper temperature.
    Heating a pan prevents sticking by closing cracks in the metal

    Most cooks know that you should start with a hot pan to prevent or minimize food sticking. You may hear a bizarre theory that goes something like this: food sticks to pans because it seeps into minute cracks and pits in the pan and then solidifies when heated, becoming stuck. If you heat the pan before adding the food, the metal expands and fills in the microscopic cracks and holes in the pan's surface or at least makes them smaller. With fewer or smaller surface defects for the food to grab onto it is less likely to stick.
    Unfortunately whoever came up with this idea knew nothing about the physical properties of metals. When metal expands due to heating, each individual atom vibrates faster and faster and thus takes up more space. The result is the same as if each atom simply got a bit bigger, and the result is that the entire piece of metal, defects, holes and all, gets bigger. Thus, if you heat a donut-shaped piece of metal, the outer diameter gets bigger and so does the diameter of the hole. You have probably used this fact yourself when trying to get a metal screw lid off a glass jar. Running hot water over the lid expands the entire lid and loosens its grip on the jar, making it easier to remove.
    Avoid aluminum cookware because of Alzheimer's disease

    This myth got its start a number of years ago when medical researchers found elevated levels of aluminum in diseased tissue from the brains of Alzheimer's patients. One logical possibility (but not the only one) was that the raised aluminum level was responsible for causing the disease. Get exposed to too much aluminum, from your job perhaps or your cookware, and you would have a better chance of coming down with this awful disease. People started avoiding aluminum cookware, and some still are - unnecessarily it turns out. Subsequent research has failed to show any connection between aluminum exposure and Alzheimer's, and it is believed that the elevated aluminum in the brains of Alzheimer's patients is a result of the disease process. In other words, high aluminum levels do not cause Alzheimer's, but rather Alzheimer's causes high aluminum levels.
    Source: Alzheimer's Society
    Gas stoves are better than electric

    It's become almost an article of faith that gas stoves are better than electric, and that any "serious" cook should aspire to owning one. This belief does not stand up to intelligent scrutiny, however. Gas stoves are fine, of course, but when comparing them to electric you will see that there's no overall objective superiority. Let's take a look:
    Evaluation Comparison Winner Response speed When you turn the heat up or down gas responds immediately. This is important for certain cooking tasks. Electric is definitely much slower responding than gas. You can compensate to some extent by moving the pan off and on the element, but it's not nearly as convenient as gas. gas Simmering Many gas stoves, particularly high-end ones, have greatly improved simmering. For slow, even, worry-free simmering, however, electric is still the champ. electric Boiling speed In comparison tests, gas stoves are almost always slower to boil a large pot of water than an electric stove with the same BTU rating. This is probably because a lot more heat escapes with gas (see below). electric Use with a wok Woks are designed for cooking over an open flame, and the fast response speed of a traditional thin steel wok will be compromised when used on an electric element. If you have an electric stove you can do a perfectly good stir fry by placing a flat-bottomed wok directly on the element, but a round bottomed wok over a gas burner is better. gas Escaping heat It's unavoidable - a gas burner produces a lot of hot air that has no choice but to flow up and around your pan and into the kitchen. This means that less heat gets into your food, the pan's handles may get very hot, and the room heats up more. With electric and a pan that is not too small for the element, more heat goes into the food and less into the handles and the room. In addition, gas ovens vent more heat than electric ovens. electric Choice of pans Electric stoves, particularly the flat top models, require the use of pans with reasonably flat bottoms. The bottom does not have to be perfectly flat - which is essentially impossible anyway - but if the pan is too far off flat the efficiency of heat transfer will be lowered. Plus, pans with a convex bottom (bowed out) can be unstable on a flat top stove, rocking or spinning while in use. In contrast you can use pretty much any pan on a gas stove regardless of how flat the bottom is. gas Cleaning While the old-style coil electric burners are not all that easy to clean, they are still easier than gas because you do not have to worry about gunk getting into the burners. Needless to say, the new flattop electric ranges are a breeze to clean. electric The bottom line is that each type of stove has its strengths and weaknesses and it's impossible to say that one is "better" than the other in any overall sense. Choose the type that best suits you.
    You must use a serrated knife to slice ripe tomatoes

    You certainly can use a serrated knife for ripe tomatoes but there's no need to. If you find yourself always turning to a serrated knife for this task it is probably because your straight-edged knives are not sharp enough. A well-sharpened regular knife will make paper-thin slices from a ripe tomato - in fact, some people use this as a test for a knife's sharpness.
    You cannot deep-fry in olive oil

    Olive oil has a lower smoke point that most other oils and as a result many people think you cannot use it for deep frying. Balderdash! This would be news to many Italians including the famous TV chef Mario Batali. Olive oil's smoke point is about 375of and most frying is done below that. Also, just because an oil smokes a little does not mean it is ruined. Using olive oil for deep frying is undoubtedly expensive. The least expensive olive oil is, in my experience, about twice the cost of other oils that are used for frying such as peanut or canola. Plus you should discard the oil after a single use because the low smoke point means that the oil degrades more during that first use. So, you may never actually want to use olive oil for deep frying, but it is most certainly possible - and can give terrific results for some recipes!.
    You must scald milk before using it in certain recipes

    This myth has some basis in fact. Raw milk (milk that has not been pasteurized) contains enzymes that can interfere with the thickening action of milk and the rising of bread. The scalding destroys these enzymes. Today, almost all the milk that is sold has been pasteurized, a process of heating the milk to destroy bacteria. This has the same effect as scalding the milk, so by the time you buy the milk those nasty enzymes are already gone. Unless you milk your own cow, you can skip the scalding.
    Scalding can however be beneficial if you are making yogurt or other cultured milk products. Even pasteurized milk contains some bacteria, and they can compete with the yogurt culture and affect the result. By heating milk to 180 degrees you eliminate most of these other organisms and give the desirable culture bacterial a clean slate to work with.
    Source: Kitchen Science, Revised Edition by Howard Hillman. Houghton-Mifflin, 1989.
    You can make a baked potato in the microwave

    The microwave oven certainly has many legitimate uses, but baking potatoes (or anything else) is not one of them. Sure, you can cook a whole potato in the microwave, but what you get is a steamed potato. The crispy skin and fluffy interior of the genuine baked potato require a long cooking in dry heat.
    You cannot do serious cooking in a microwave

    This is one of the very silliest myths but it refuses to die out. There are a lot of people who use their microwave for nothing but boiling water and reheating leftovers and they are really missing out on a lot. I suspect that this myth got its start when microwaves were a new tool and a lot of awful microwave recipe books were published. Some people tried to use their microwave as a general purpose stove and oven replacement rather than as a more specialized tool that is well suited for some jobs but not at all useful for others. For example, you would not want to use a microwave for a roast beef, fried potatoes, or baking bread, but it works just great for things like rice, poached fish, and steamed veggies. I find it particularly handy for making polenta and risotto, with results that are every bit as good as the stovetop with much less work and worry. If you want to expand your microwave repertoire I highly recommend The Microwave Gourmet by Barbara Kafka. Another excellent book is The Moghul Microwave by Julie Sahni (Indian dishes).
    Microwave cooking destroys nutrients more than other cooking methods

    It's true that cooking reduces the level of some nutrients, but this is true of all cooking methods. It's the heat that does it, and with boiling or poaching there's also the fact that some nutrients are leached out into the water. Microwaves pose no special risk to nutrients and in fact may preserve more of them because cooking times and temperatures may be lower than with conventional cooking methods. Yes, I know that there are many web sites claiming that microwaves destroy nutrients, but they are wrong. Ask these people about their scientific background, may I suggest.

    Source: 50Plus
    Microwave cooking is radiation and makes foods poisonous


    Yes, microwaves are radiation, just like the light from the sun, the warmth from a cozy fire, or the signal that brings you radio shows. But, it is nonionizing radiation, which means that it has no effect on food other than heating it up. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the truly dangeous ionizing radiation that is associated with atomic bombs and nuclear power plants.
    Source: Any decent high school physics class.
    If you put the pit in the bowl, guacamole won't turn brown

    The surface of guacamole turns brown by reacting with oxygen in the air. The guacamole that is directly under the pit won't turn brown because the pit prevents air from getting to it. Otherwise, the oxidation process turns the exposed surface brown, just as it does on apples and other fruits. You'll have much better luck protecting the surface from air by pressing aluminum foil or plastic wrap on it.
    Cold water boils faster than warm water

    This is another myth that falls into the "suspend the laws of physics" category. That hasn't happened yet in my kitchen, and if it has in yours then you can probably get on TV. Seriously, to illustrate how ridiculous this idea is without getting into physics and formulas, think of it this way. If you put cold water on to boil, at some time before it boils the water will have become warm. Let's say it takes time "A" for the water to go from cold to warm. Then after some additional time it will boil - call the time it takes to go from warm to boiling "B". So, the time it takes the cold water to boil is "A + B" and the time it takes the warm water to boil is "B." If this myth were true then time "A + B" would be less than time "B" and there's just no way this could be no matter how many martinis you've had.
    A variation of this myth claims that cold water boils faster than warm water if it has been boiled previously and then cooled off. The "explanation" in this case is that the first boiling drives dissolved air out of the water, which is true enough. However, dissolved air does not affect the boiling of water, at least not in any significant way, so this one is nonsense too.
    Apparently this myth has its origins in the fact that cold water heats faster than warm water. A pot of water at 40o will reach 60o faster than a pot of 70o water will reach 90o, given the same heat source. This is because the rate of heat transfer is proportional to the temperature differential between the heat source and the item being heated. But the cooler water will always take longer to boil.
    It is true, however, that warm water sometimes freezes faster than cold water. This happens only under very specialized conditions, and has nothing to do with boiling water.
    Source: Scientific American
    Note, however, that many people generally avoid using hot tap water for cooking on the theory that the hot water is not as clean from sitting in the water heater or from leaching substances from the pipes (a worry in houses with old plumbing).
    Myths about dried beans

    There are three "facts" you'll often hear about cooking dried beans, such as kidney and great northern beans. It turns out they are all myths.
    1. You must soak beans before cooking. You can soak beans of course but the only advantage it provides is to shorten the cooking time. There's no reason not to start cooking dry beans directly as long as you have the time to simmer them long enough.
    2. You must not add salt to beans during cooking or they will not soften. Tests show that the only difference between beans cooked side by side with and without salt is that one is salty and the other is not. Some people feel that salting during cooking gives better flavor because some of the salt ends up inside the beans.
    3. You must not add acid, such as tomatoes, to beans during cooking or they will not soften. Acid does in fact have an effect on beans, tending to keep the skins intact, while alkaline substances (baking soda) help the skins to break down. In both cases however the beans cook perfectly well. You can use this to your advantage, adding tomatoes during or after cooking depending on whether you want whole beans or mushy beans.
    Note, however, soaking can help reduce the "gas attack" effect that some people experience after eating beans. Bring dry beans and water to a boil, remove from heat, and let sit for an hour. Drain, add fresh water, and continue cooking. This removes some of the chemicals in the beans that cause the gas.
    Source: How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman, Macmillan, 1998.
    Don't salt meat before cooking

    The idea behind this one is that the salt will draw out juices from the meat, removing flavor and preventing the surface from browning properly. In theory salt can draw out moisture, but in the real world it does not seem to make any difference. I have salted meat before cooking innumerable times, including steaks for pan frying or grilling, roasts, and briskets headed for the smoker. I have never once seen any juice being drawn out by the salt. In addition, there are innumerable cooks ranging from at-home amateurs to professional chefs and cookbook authors - including the super-fussy people at Cooks Illustrated - who direct that salt be put on meat before cooking. It's impossible to believe that if the myth were true, all these people would be blind to the supposedly dire effects.
    If you use enough salt and let it sit long enough you will draw out moisture. But the real question is: does this reduce the quality of the final product? Not in my experience. Of course you must pat off the accumulated moisture with a paper towel before cooking if you want the meat to brown properly. In fact, drawing off some moisture may well concentrate the flavors and lead to a better result.
    Foods such as chicken salad made with mayonnaise are prone to quick spoilage

    Another old wives' tale. Mayonnaise, because of its relatively low pH (in other words, it is acidic) will actually help prevent spoilage. When chicken salad or something similar spoils it is the other ingredients spoiling, not the mayo. When going on a picnic or setting out a buffet it is important to keep foods cold, but there's no reason to avoid mayo. This is true of commercial mayos, at least in the US where commercial mayo is required to contain a certain minimum level of aciditiy (I do not know about other countries). Homemade mayo may have less acidity and therefore may be more prone to spoilage.
    Source: http://www.goldkist.com/consumer/tips.asp#handling
    Microbiological safety of mayonnaise, salad dressi...[J Food Prot. 2000] - PubMed Result
    Never put bananas in the refrigerator - they'll become inedible


    The skins will darken, but refrigeration slows ripening of bananas the same as it does other fruits. The insides will be fine.
    Source: Chiquita Banana web site and personal experience
    You can't make a good cup of tea in the microwave

    Some people claim that you cannot make really good tea by boiling your cup of water in the microwave and then putting in the tea bag. The problem is that only the top layer of water is boiling - water in the lower part of the cup is not hot enough yet and so the tea will not infuse properly. Perhaps - but the problem is easily solved by letting the water boil for 5-10 seconds before removing it from the microwave and adding the tea bag. This ensures complete mixing and heating of the water and your tea will be just fine.
    Note, however, that some tea experts claim that you do not want to use actively boiling water (212o) because it damages the flavor of the tea. I was informed of this by a reader named Erik Lynn - for black tea you want 195o, for green tea 175o, and for herbal tea 205-210o. To be honest, I really can't tell the difference, but apparently some people can.
    However, be aware of a potential safety issue. Water can get superheated in the microwave. In other words, its temperature goes above the boiling point but it does not actually boil. This is usually the result of using a container with a very smooth surface that lacks the minute rough spots that trigger boiling. When you then pop your teabag into the water it boils all at once and can leap out and burn you. Of course if you wait for the water to boil in the MW, as I have advised, this will not be a problem but you should be aware of it.


    Kitchen Myths

  2. #2
    Thailand Expat

    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Last Online
    @
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    5,699
    I like trivia like that. I knew quite a few of them, but I've learned a couple of things too. Have a green.

  3. #3
    Member theudonshawn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Last Online
    01-05-2016 @ 03:55 PM
    Location
    Udon
    Posts
    186
    good stuff... next time I make beans I'll be sure to boil them, let them sit, change out the water and all... that's useful

  4. #4
    Member beano's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Last Online
    14-05-2018 @ 02:42 PM
    Posts
    821
    I cook a lot with dried beans and found the red ones a virtual waste of time as they never soften up properly.
    The little black ones are terrific but you have to keep changing the water or they turn the food black.

  5. #5
    I am in Jail

    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Last Online
    22-11-2011 @ 08:27 AM
    Location
    Christian Country
    Posts
    15,020
    Cool. But, as for the water in the empty muffin wells -- it saves the empty wells from turning black is all. You wouldn't cook an empty pot would you?
    Yep, a really sharp knfe is all that's needed for cutting tomatoes. (You can sharpen knives on the bottom of a ceramin bowl, cup, dish -- the part that is unglazed. If you do it daily, it keeps the knife fairly sharp. Then get a tune-up when the knife sharpening man comes by.)

  6. #6
    Thailand Expat
    Marmite the Dog's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Last Online
    08-09-2014 @ 10:43 AM
    Location
    Simian Islands
    Posts
    34,827
    Quote Originally Posted by beano
    I cook a lot with dried beans and found the red ones a virtual waste of time as they never soften up properly.
    Just use the tinned ones.

  7. #7
    Member beano's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Last Online
    14-05-2018 @ 02:42 PM
    Posts
    821
    Quote Originally Posted by Marmite the Dog View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by beano
    I cook a lot with dried beans and found the red ones a virtual waste of time as they never soften up properly.
    Just use the tinned ones.
    Nah, I got fuck all to do most of the day now. Soaking beans is one way of killing time.

  8. #8
    I am in Jail
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Last Online
    22-08-2010 @ 12:57 AM
    Posts
    83
    How about raw eggs -- in the fridge or not?

  9. #9
    I am in Jail

    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Last Online
    22-11-2011 @ 08:27 AM
    Location
    Christian Country
    Posts
    15,020
    ^ Always put 'em in the fridge. Crikes, warnings not to eat raw eggs here in Canada, too. WTF? All the meat and produce here has so many chemicals and drugs in 'em they'd probably be good til the next Ice Age (oh, but that''s coming soon -- rev up your SUVs).

  10. #10
    Days Work Done! Norton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Last Online
    @
    Location
    Roiet
    Posts
    30,009
    Quote Originally Posted by beano
    I cook a lot with dried beans and found the red ones a virtual waste of time as they never soften up properly.
    Don't use any salt until they are soft. Mash a few when they are partially cooked and the rest will soften quicker.

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •