There are levels to cooking with water on the stove top. You have boiling the most powerful, direct method. Simmering the method that has less heat, but is a gentler on your food. And poaching, which relies on lower temperatures cooked over longer periods of time. Simmering is the mama bear of stove top cooking.
It’s just right. It is hot, but doesn’t tear up your food. Simmering is most useful when you want to preserve the look of a food, while making it tenderer. You can use it for vegetables, dehydrated starches like rice, beans and oats, and hearty vegetables. Keep in mind that when you simmer something it is going to take some time. Simmering is a slow process, so if you choose to simmer greens it can take upwards of 3 hours. Want to know the best way to get around this? Use a slow cooker. Be careful to not allow the water to boil though.
So how do you simmer food? It’s basically the same as boiling, but with less heat.
Boiling only has a few steps.
- Add water to a pot. For beans, be sure to add enough water to allow the beans to rehydrate, if you don’t rehydrate them separately. For vegetables, only put enough water to barely cover the vegetable. If you are cooking greens, then this will be only enough water to cover it once it has shrunk down. If you add to much water to a pot of simmering vegetables, then you waterlog the vegetables and suck out all of the nutrients and flavor.
- And heat on medium high heat until it comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Then add your food. Make sure you cover the pot, if you are using this method with vegetables. Stir occasionally.
- Remove food when done.
That’s it! You can now simmer anything you want. It’s a very useful technique for making delicious food, with little fuss. Give it a try if you have some time.