In this article we will discuss about moist heat cooking methods.
Moist Heat Cooking Methods
Moist heat cooking methods are those methods that use a hot liquid to cook food. That liquid can be water, broth, wine or juice. Unlike dry cooking methods like roasting or baking, which use hot air to cook food, moist heat cooking methods preserve and even add moisture to the food as it is cooking.
This property makes these cooking methods especially appropriate for food that needs softening, for example, hard vegetables, tough meat or dry grains and beans. In this method, food comes in contact with moisture either by water or steam under pressure. Some common ways of moist heat cooking methods are described below.
Types of Moist Heat Cooking Methods
Boiling cooking method
Boiling is cooking foods in a liquid (water, bouillon, stock, milk) at boiling point. Boiling is a method of cooking foods by just immersing them in water at 100⁰C and maintaining water at the temperature till food is tender. Rice, egg, dhal, meat, roots and tubers are cooked by boiling method.
Advantages: Boiling is a safe and simple method of cooking also the food does not get charred. It is suitable for large scale cooking. Boiled food is also digested easily.
Disadvantages: While boiling, water soluble nutrients are lost if the water in which food is boiled is discarded. Some people may not like boiled food as they find it bland. The taste of boiled food can be enhanced by adding lemon or other herbs and spices.
Stewing cooking method
When food is cooked with the heat from water vapours, it is called stewing. This method requires the food to be cooked in steam. Stewing is a long and slow cooking method where food is cut into pieces and cooked in the minimum amount of liquid, water, stock or sauce. The food and the cooking liquid are served together. In this slow method of cooking the liquid is heated to boiling point and heat is reduced to maintain simmering temperature.
Advantages: Steaming shortens the duration of cooking and helps to conserve nutritive value, colour, flavour and palatability of food. Steamed food is light, nutritious and easy to digest. Such foods are especially good for people who are sick or people with weak digestion or for the elderly. Young children also can be served steamed food.
Disadvantages: Food takes longer to cook. The process is time consuming and there is wastage of fuel.
Steaming cooking method
Once water is heated past the 212⁰F mark, it stops being water and turns into steam. As far as physical agitation goes, steaming is very gentle, making it ideal for cooking seafood and other delicate items. It also has the advantage of cooking quickly while avoiding the loss of nutrients through leaching.
Interestingly, steam’s maximum temperature is also 212⁰F, just like water. But unlike water, steam can be forced to exceed this natural temperature limit by pressurizing it. The higher the pressure, the hotter the steam becomes. Cooking with pressurized steam requires specialized equipment, though, so it’s not something that a home cook would typically use.
Advantages: Steaming shortens the duration of cooking and helps to conserve nutritive value, colour, flavour and palatability of food. Steamed food is light, nutritious and easy to digest. Such foods are good, especially for people who are sick or people with weak digestion or for the elderly. Young children can be served with steamed food.
Disadvantages: Steaming equipment is required. This method is limited to the preparation of selected foods.
Pressure cooking method
Pressure cooking is a process of moist heat cooking methods in a special utensil which allows cooking with a lot of steam under pressure. Pressure cookers are made of steel or from a mixture of aluminium and other metals and can withstand high pressure. The steam produced is trapped inside the cooker thus increasing the pressure and temperature above 100°C. Rice, pulses, meat, potatoes, roots, beans, and peas are cooked well in a pressure cooker in the shortest possible time.
Advantages: Pressure cooking kills all bacteria and hence the food is safe and hygienic to eat. The food gets cooked faster i.e. almost in 1/3rd time than boiling. This also saves the fuel. Several foods can be cooked together in the pressure cooker by using separators. It is not necessary to immerse food in water while cooking and this reduces the loss of water soluble vitamins and minerals.
Disadvantages: If food is cooked for very long, it loses its texture and may even burn. Knowledge of the usage, care and maintenance of cooker is required to prevent accidents. Careful watch on the cooking time is required to prevent over cooking.
Poaching cooking method
This moist heat cooking methods minimum amount of liquid at temperatures of 80°C – 85°C that is below the boiling point. Foods generally poached are egg, fish and fruits. For poaching eggs, the addition of little salt or vinegar to the cooking liquid lowers temperature of coagulation.
Advantages: A variety of liquids can be used (stock, wine, milk, syrup). Liquid can improve flavour. Food becomes more digestible.
Disadvantages: Requires constant attention. Range of suitable foods is limited. Foods overcook quickly.
Blanching cooking method
In moist heat cooking methods meal preparation, it is often necessary only to peel off the skin of fruits and vegetables without making them tender. This can be achieved by blanching. eg. Tomatoes can be blanched in this method, food is dipped in boiling water for 5 seconds to 2 minutes depending on the texture of the food. This helps to remove the skin or peel without softening food.
Advantages: Peels can easily be removed to improve digestibility. Destroys enzymes that bring about spoilage. Texture can be maintained while improving the colour and flavour of food.
Disadvantage: Lack of nutrients in moist heat cooking methods water, high energetic costs, high water consumption and recycling are some drawbacks of vegetable blanching.