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Old 12-18-2004, 03:53 PM   #1
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Boiling water the right way

Question for those of you who may be knowledgable in ultimate cooking. I am looking for the name of a tool that I provide a description for below:

As you know many recipies call for bringing the water to a boil and then putting in whatever you're cooking. However, as you put something in the boiling water the water stops boiling and you have to wait for it to come back to boil. Now, on some occasions, for ultimate cooking that is not acceptable.

Allegedly there is a tool that looks like a hammer or a mace, most likely made of copper or another highly heat conductive material. That copper mace gets heated up beforehand to a very high temperature. Now, the technique is to place that super hot mace in the water at the same time as you are putting in the edibles. The mace adds abundance of heat to compensate for the loss of heat by the edibles, and thus not interrupting the beautiful process of boiling.

Question: What is the name of that tool?

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Old 12-18-2004, 04:42 PM   #2
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I don't specifically know the name of the tool for that use, but I know you can use what the French call a Salamander to do what you want. The original Salamander was a thick disc of iron (steel) welded to a rod. You heated the disc until it was red hot and you held it over whatever you were going to caramelize, such as the sugar topping of creme brulee. I've seen people use this same tool to plunge into water.
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Old 12-18-2004, 06:26 PM   #3
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I'm curious to know what you are making in which it is unacceptable to wait for the water to return to a boil??

By the way, WELCOME to the board!

In addition to Psiguyy's brilliance, I know there are electric pots dedicated to this quandry that will heat the water to the boiling point and keep it there! (And they are cheap, too.)
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Old 12-18-2004, 09:12 PM   #4
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Audeo, Julia Child did this when she boiled green beans. She said bringing the pot back to a boil keeps the beans green.
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Old 12-19-2004, 06:32 AM   #5
 
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Hate to sound "too Canadian" here. but couldn't you just use an electric kettle to achieve this (given the volume of water was not that extreme?)

Bring the kettle to a boil, then "over boil it" so its throwing steam like mad, and add it and your ingrdient to a pre-heated pot?

Wow, though! Terribly fussy recipe!

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Old 12-19-2004, 08:37 AM   #6
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I am not sure, but I think you might be talking about an immersion heater. We used to use them in summer camp to heat water to make soup. I think they also use them in prison.
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Old 12-19-2004, 11:11 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Psiguyy
Audeo, Julia Child did this when she boiled green beans. She said bringing the pot back to a boil keeps the beans green.
Ahhh. Thank you, grasshopper! I didn't know that, and appreciate the info!
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Old 12-19-2004, 07:34 PM   #8
 
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This is curious....I can see a couple ways to try to achieve what Ultimate Boiling is trying to achieve...

First, you could use syomething like a pressure cooker to "superheat" the water, and do the physics calculation of adding whatever mass/volume at whatever temperature, that you could stay at or above 212 F once you added the food to be boiled...

But the method you are describing is somewhat similar to "stone Age Cooking" as described best by Jean Auel in the "Cave Bear" series, where you super heat stones and add them to the water of your pot to achieve, or maintain, or preserve the "boil"...nowadays, perhaps a stainless steel fire brick from the BBQ? (held for this precise purpose, of course!) heated on the burners or in the oven, and dropped (carefully!) in to the pot?

I've worked with immersion heaters (in The Army!) and doubt that you would be able to get the necessary "control" with it/them...

But maybe someone's come up with a new technology for the idea?

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Old 12-20-2004, 03:48 AM   #9
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One solution is just to use a larger amount of water in a bigger pot, this way the temperature drop would not be as severe and will return to the boil (or stay boiling) quicker.

I just normally use iced water to help vegetables that I blanch in boiling water retain their colour.
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Old 12-20-2004, 04:44 PM   #10
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Haggis, ice bath works, but the point Julia made was the beans not only retained their color, but did so without having to be plunged into cold water. So, you could have vibrant green HOT beans instead of green cold beans.

I'm guessing here, but it could also result in a healthier bean. I wonder if shorter cooking times results in better nutritional value.

I know my mother's secret to making the best jams and jellies was to cook it as fast as possible without burning the bottom. She claimed it preserved the flavor better. I wonder if the same applies to cooking veggies?
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Old 12-20-2004, 06:50 PM   #11
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Without trying to get deep into basic Chemistry 101 or physics - water boils when sufficient heat is applied to increase it's temperature to it's vapor pressure ... that pressure being equal to it's atmospheric pressure. For an uncovered pot at sea level, that is about 212-F, in Denver (higher altitute and thus less atmospheric pressure) about 202-F. No matter now fast the pot is boiling - the water will not exceed it's vapor temp. The only difference the size of the fire under the vessel will make is how fast it reaches that temp.

The only way to increase the boiling temp of water is to increase the atmospheric pressure. A pressure cooker does this by increasing the atmospheric pressure within the vessel .... but even that is somewhat regulated by ambient atmospheric pressure. Everyone knows that a pot with a lid on reaches a boil faster than an open pot ... the lid works somewhat like a pressure cooker ... the weight of the lid increases the ambient pressure within the pot ... generally not enough to increase the temp by any appreciable amount but it does increase the rate that the water reaches vapor point.

I'm with Audeo - what is so pickey that you can't wait for the water to return to a boil? I've certainly not run across anything that picky. Of course, the temp of the food you add to the boiling water, and the amount, will affect how quickly it returns to boiling temp.

Gotta give Lifter and HAggis a cigar for best modern day solution to a rather dumb problem ..

Psi - yes - I saw Julia do this (with a Salamander) back in the Black & White TV days. I also saw her drop a whole salmon on the floor, and my sons and I still laugh about her Easter episode when she did rabbit, and I can't remember how many other things she mucked up. But, I respect, admire, and love her. Later in life she changed and started using the "modern" technique of blanching and shocking .. then finishing the cooking. I would need a food scientists like Shirley O. Corriher to explain how it all works .... but lacking her books I'll just take her word for it.
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Old 12-21-2004, 02:53 AM   #12
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Well, I do know this much. No matter how many BTUs you have under the pot, adding a bunch of raw green beans at room temp or just out of the fridge will drop the temperature of the water. So, plunging the red hot metal into the water will bring the temperature back to boiling point much much sooner than if you waited for the burner to heat the water back up to boiling.

The last show I saw Julia Child use this method was when she was living in her retirement home. I don't remember who was with her at the time. It was either Wolfgang Puck or Jacques Pepin.
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Old 12-21-2004, 11:45 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lifter
Bring the kettle to a boil, then "over boil it" so its throwing steam like mad, and add it and your ingrdient to a pre-heated pot?

Lifter

"Overboil?" Overboiling (?) will not make the water any hotter. It reaches the boiling point and then gets no hotter -- it just goes from a liquid to a vapor state. Salted water boils at a slightlyhigher temperature than unsalted water.

Probably the most practical suggestion (and what most pro cooks do) is to use LOTSand LOTS of water so that adding the ingredients to the water brings the temp down less (than using a smaller quantity of water) and thus it will return to a boil faster.
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Old 12-21-2004, 06:48 PM   #14
 
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The truth is somewhere in the middle...yes, I tend to agree that "water" can only get so "hot" before it becomes steam, unless pressure is applied, as I suggested with a form of a pressure cooker, to raise the atmospheres in the cooking container...

But the cooking vessel can become, obviously, hotter than the water...

And increasing the Mass of the pot (ie using a thick pot rather than thin) will tend to accentuate this...as will, if course, dropping the "superheated brick" into the pot...

Whereas there is a limit to how "hot" the water can get (arguably 202-212 F), there is almost no limit to how "hot" the steam can get...check out "superheated steam" used in steam propulsion machines...and of course, the steam, rather than the water, becomes the cooking medium...the trick would be to regulate the escape of the steam, and some practical knowledge and experience of how long before you take whatever you are cooking "out" of the medium, as well as how to do so, safely...

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Old 12-22-2004, 12:18 PM   #15
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I agree with your ideas regarding pressure cooker and temp of pan ...

but how does "the steam, rather than the water, becomes the cooking medium" when you are talking about boiling green beans?
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Old 12-22-2004, 03:14 PM   #16
 
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Well, we are heating them in a "moist" environment, whether the moisture is provided by sream (like cooking them in a wire basket suspended over the water) or immersing them in water, either way theuy attract and absorb the hot water molecules, and become "cooked" at one point or another...

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Old 12-22-2004, 03:51 PM   #17
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Actually, in an open vessel such as a pot, steam at the surface of the water will never be higher than the temperature of the water. Steam can only be superheated if the steam itself is further heated. A pot on the stove is not designed to heat steam.

A pressure cooker raises the temperature of the liquid by raising the pressure. The steam is not directly heated, so it will never be heated to higher temps than the liquid. In the case of the OP, a pressure cooker is not the answer because you cannot return the water to boiling temperature any faster than you can an open vessel. Besides, it takes several minutes to raise the pressure to where the increase makes any real difference.
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Old 12-22-2004, 04:23 PM   #18
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Psiguyy
I don't specifically know the name of the tool for that use, but I know you can use what the French call a Salamander to do what you want. The original Salamander was a thick disc of iron (steel) welded to a rod. You heated the disc until it was red hot and you held it over whatever you were going to caramelize, such as the sugar topping of creme brulee. I've seen people use this same tool to plunge into water.
I love you Psiguyy, but I own a Salamander! These are difficult to find these days, and took a lot of work to find one. They aren't cheap either.

Anybody who plunges my Salamander into water for this idea will face the wrath of --- big knife choclatechef!
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Old 12-23-2004, 06:05 PM   #19
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Actually choclatechef - it wouldn't hurt it. It's part of the tempering method to harden steel ... you heat the metal, pound on it to get it into shape, then stick it in a bucket of water to cool it quickly. When this discussion started .... I had totally forgotten about watching my Grandpa make horseshoes ... and when he took a glowing red horseshoe and stick it in a bucket of water ... the water did boil sometimes, and it wasn't heated first.
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Old 12-23-2004, 07:14 PM   #20
 
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You are probably right Mike, I just don't want to take a chance.

I found only one place that still carries salamanders, and they wanted about $50 for one!
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