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Boiling Food And Meats

( Originally Published 1904 )

BOILING food is the process of cooking it in a boiling liquid, usually water. Boiling water has a temperature of 212°, and no matter how long it boils or how hard it boils, it never becomes hotter; for at that point it is transformed by the heat into steam, and in time boils away. Boiling is marked by rapid bubbling and the breaking of the bubbles into steam. When, 'however, the bubbles are very small and break with only a slight motion, the water is said to simmer and the temperature is only 180°. When the water does not simmer or boil, yet is so hot that one cannot bear one's finger in it, it is scalding hot water. We put a cover over a vessel of boiling water to keep the steam in and so increase the heat. When we do this we observe that the steam condenses into drops of water upon the cover of the vessel. As steam changes back to water by condensing it gives up some of its heat, and in this way the heat is increased.. A covered vessel of boiling water contains more heat than an uncovered vessel.

Ordinary water contains certain gases and air dissolved in it. It is the oxygen in water which enables the fish to live beneath the surface. When, however, water is boiled, all of the air and gases are driven off. For this reason boiled water has a flat taste. Distilled water is insipid-and when used for drinking purposes is oxygenated, i. c., has oxygen gas passed through it to revive it.

Water that has boiled and afterwards stood for some time should not be used for cooking or drinking purposes.

Careless housekeepers sometimes leave water in the kettle overnight and use it next morning after it has lost its freshness.

If a vessel of boiling water is left uncovered, the water will boil away more rapidly than it will if covered. If the vessel_ is too full the water will boil over, since the water expands by heating, and the bubbles of steam occupy more space than did the water.

Solid impurities—salts and vegetable matter—remain behind after the water has boiled away and this, in time, leaves a crust upon the inner surface of the vessel:

The chief food elements affected by boiling are the starch and the albumen. Cold water has no effect upon starch. It will mingle with it, but if allowed to stand, the starch will soon settle to the bottom of the vessel. If boiling water be poured upon finely ground starch those granules which the water first touches will swell and burst, allowing the contents of each granule to mix with the boiling water. But these granules which the water does not reach will be unchanged, and the mass will be lumpy. If, how-ever, the starch be rubbed up with cold water to a consistency sufficient to permit the mass to run, and it be then poured into boiling water, the granules will all burst, and as the contents mix with the water, a smooth, uniform mixture results. This applies only to those starchy foods Used in the form of a fine powder. Solid, compact, starchy foods should be put at once into boiling water.

Starch in a Fat, or uncooked, state is not wholesome. When a starchy food is cooked the grains of starch swell and burst. For this reason cooked potato which cohtains much starch is mealy and flaky. New potatoes do not become so on boiling, as they contain but very little starch. In potatoes which have been allowed to sprout, the starch is changed into gum and this renders them unfit for food.

Albumen is purest in the white of an egg, in which it occurs in it liquid form. It is also found in meats, especially in the juices and fibres of lean meat; this is called blood albumen.

If an egg is put into boiling water the white or transparent portion soon becomes opaque; it next becomes tough; and, finally, hard or brittle. The yolk, too, contains some albumen, which becomes mealy and dry in boiling.

When a piece of lean meat is placed in boiling water it will seem to shrivel and diminish in size. All of its juices will be retained, and the water will remain clear and uncolored.' But if it be placed in cold water the latter will be discolored by the juices which have been soaked out. The water, as it becomes hotter, will assume a brown color. The cold water has extracted the juices from the meat, while the boiling water hardened the albumen and closed the pores of the meat, thus preventing the escape of the juices. If the meat is to be boiled it must be put at once into boiling water, so as to cause it to retain the juices. But if soup or broth is to be made by the extraction of the juices the meat should be placed in cold water, , and the water should never pass the simmering point.

Water containing salt or sugar is denser than ordinary water, consequently it is more difficult to bring it to a " boil." Soft water extracts the juices of the meat more readily than does hard water. Hard water is best for boiling meat or vegetables. If only soft water is at hand it should be salted in order to preserve vegetables whole while cooking.

When a piece of meat is boiled it is essential to retain its nutritious juices and not to allow them to escape into the water. To accomplish this, the meat is placed in boiling, salted water and allowed to boil as hard as possible for from five to ten minutes. This is enough to harden the albumen and to close the pores. The vessel,, tightly covered in order to retain the steam, is placed where the water will gently simmer.

The scum which forms on the top of the water is albumen from the outside of the meat; it should be removed by skimming, as otherwise it will settle upon the meat and spoil its appetizing appearance.

Great care is necessary in turning the meat in boiling so as not to allow the escape of its juices. A fork should never be used for this purpose. When soup, broth, and teas are to be made it is essential to extract all of the juice and strength of the meat. To do this, place the meat, cut in small pieces, in cold water, and allow it to soak as long as possible. Do not let it boil, but only simmer until all of the nutriment is extracted.

When stews and fricassees are made, it is intended that both the meat and liquid shall be eaten. It is, therefore, necessary that the nourishment be retained in both the solid and the liquid. To accomplish this a combination of both of the above principles is called for. Place the meat in cold water. Let it boil quickly, and after skimming place it where it can simmer. By placing in cold water some of the nutriment is-extracted, and the rapid boiling stops the extraction before it has gone too far, while the simmering cooks the solid thoroughly.

As vegetables, contain a little albumen and much juice, it is best to place them in hot water and bring them to a boil quickly. This will harden the albumen, keep in the juices, and cause them to be absorbed by the bursting starch granules.



Take middle-sized potatoes, peel, wash, and drain them, put them into a two-quart stewpan with 1 quart of water and a little salt. When they have boiled fifteen minutes, drain off carefully every drop of water, cover closely, and let them steam till done, which will be in about five minutes more.


Mashed potatoes are ordinarily prepared by crushing the hot boiled potatoes .with a rolling pin or the back of a spoon, the potatoes being placed in a bowl or dish, or on a pie-board. A little milk, butter, and salt may be added or not, according to taste, and the potatoes may either be at once served up, or pressed into forms, browned off in the oven, and then served.


A good basis for the proper amount of seasoning to give vegetables is 1 tablespoonful of butter; ˝ teaspoonful of salt, and 1/2 saltspeonful of pepper to one pint of vegetables. A tea-spoonful of sugar will improve the flavor of peas,. beans, etc.


Place the meat in boiling water which has previously been salted. First, however, be careful to wipe the meat and also see that the fat is removed. The length of time for boiling is ten minutes. Then simmer for twelve minutes for each pound of meat after you have skimmed it. You may, if you prefer, boil a quart of rice with the, meat. Parsley sauce or thickened gravy is the proper sauce to serve with it.


Take 2 ounces of butter; 1 ounce of flour; ˝ pint of boiling water; I/4 teaspoonful of salt, and 1/8 teaspoonful of pepper. Put the butter into a saucepan on a moderately hot stove; pour the water in very slowly, being sure to stir constantly; add the salt and pepper, and boil. Then add to it a tablespoonful of capers.

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