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What are your favorite kitchen myths?

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I tend to be a very skeptical person. And that skepticism extends into the kitchen. Cook's Illustrated magazine attempts to deconstruct traditional approaches to recipes and improve upon them.

Here's my myth, and I know I will get A LOT of opposition. But hey, it's Friday, and time for a little controversy.

"Food always tastes better the next day"
Why?
"Because the flavors have time blend together"

Not so, in my opinion. We *perceive* it's better for reasons based in biology. There is a part in the olfactory part of the brain that desensitizes us to odors when they are present for an extended period of time. Most people are aware of that from experience. And since the sense of smell is an important factor in tasting food, if your brain is "asleep" to the very compounds in the food you are cooking because you have been exposed to the aromas during the cooking process, chances are you will not experience the full flavor of the food when you sit down.

The next day, the cooking smells are gone, and your brain has forgotten the odor. When you heat up the food, you can now taste all of the flavors that were added. The food did not actually improve. Only your ability to taste it.

How many times have you had guests to dinner, who *raved* over the food, while you found it bland and uninteresting? How many times have you overseasoned food because you were using taste as a guide? If you can make the main dishes a day in advance, then you will enjoy the flavors as much as your guests.

In commercial kitchens, or homes equipped with strong exhaust fans, much of the strong odors are removed while the food is cooking, and chances are you will not be desensitized as much.

Any more myths?

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  1. Chacun a son gout -- I love leftovers

    1. Okay, I'll bite...so to speak. I find it isn't all that necessary to rest pie dough for 20 minutes in the fridge before rolling it out. If I'm in a hurry, I go straight from mixing to rolling without noticing a lot of (if any) difference in either taste or effort in rolling out the dough. I think Marion Cunningham will back me up on this in the Fanny Farmer Baking Book.

      2 Replies
      1. re: raj1

        Depends how you make your dough. I use so little water that it barely holds together -- the 20-minute rest in the fridge does, in fact, make everything come together.

        If you make it in a food processor, probably you don't need that rest.

        1. re: Das Ubergeek

          Nope, do it all by hand with a pastry cutter.

      2. Oh I have one....that raw potato added to overly salty pots of stew/sauce/soup, etc, will "Absorb" the salt and save the soup.

        Horsefeathers.

        4 Replies
        1. re: thegolferbitch

          Well I have done that many times and it has worked. I guess that all depends on exactly how oversalted it is...lol.

          1. re: thegolferbitch

            This has worked for me on numerous occasions

            1. re: jfood

              Tell me your process please? I have wondered about this, but have heard it debunked many times. It there a ratio you use, potatoes to volume? How do you keep the potato from affecting the flavor of the soup?

              I sometimes am unmindful about salting, especially when reduction is an issue. I try, but sometimes things happen. If this works, I would love to know how.

              1. re: cayjohan

                Well the way I do it, is I grate in the raw potatoe(I use a regular cheese grater), and even though it thickens the soup(or what ever) a tad bit(and hey if thickening it a bit is what u want... then two birds with one stone)
                I believe this is a better soup (or whatever) to present/eat than a too salty item...

                & How much to add You say: well that depends on how salty the thing is... and grating helps a lot (I haven't done it any way else..., and I found this out by trial and error, as potatoe dishes (curries in my case :) ) always took more salt than other dishes... and I once grated in a potatoe in to add body to the curry and as a side effect the salt was reduced overall... so I put 2 and 2 together and have been using this trick ever since... (its 4 by the way :), 2 & 2 that is... ;) )

                To determine the right amount to add... just start out by adding little by little and it also depends on the saltiness... trust ur taste buds and do a taste test every so often,... and add more if need be (the potatoe is grated in so it cooks up & incorporates in a jiffy...)

                Hope this helps... :)

          2. Some dishes definitely are better the next day. The problem with these "myths" is they are not general rules that apply to everything.

            It depends on what you've made. A dish like fresh garlic aioli will grow a bit more complex after it sits for day. As will some sauces, tapenades and the like.

            If you tasted something a day later that wasnt' any better, or even worse it was probably the wrong kind of dish for that treatment. Usually texture suffers the most, then sugars break down. So something like a fresh tomato bruchetta, fruit compote, etc. wouldn't be as good on day two. Also, some dishes suffer in reheating.

            3 Replies
            1. re: sgwood415

              Yes, and there is a great deal of veracity to the claim that food tastes better the next day if it included dry spices or chiles. Both dried spices and chili take some time to diffuse into a liquid. That's why curry is always more spiced and more hot the next day. This is especially true if you use whole spices and crushed not powdered chiles.

              1. re: sgwood415

                I agree. Certain Italian soups/stews such as ribollita and aquacotta, for example, are more flavorful and complex the next day, even though it's a good idea to brighten them with a splash of olive oil, salt or lemon.

                1. re: sgwood415

                  Caponata. NASTY while it's hot in the pan, but oh, my goodness it's good after it rests.

                2. "Cast iron is a great conductor of heat"

                  In fact, the thermal conductivity of cast iron is not all that good - better than stainless steel, but not greatly so, and not nearly as good as aluminum (over three times better) or copper (over seven times better). The ability of cast iron cookware to heat and cook evenly is due to its greater thickness, in spite of its poor thermal conductivity.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: FlyFish

                    I've actually heard the opposite -- it's a crappy conductor of heat as metals go, which is why it takes bloody forever to get really hot -- but once it's done, because it's such a bad conductor and because it's usually so thick, it retains heat for a much longer time.

                    An aluminium pot will be cooler much faster than a cast-iron pot, and therein lies the beauty of cast-iron.

                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                      I think we're saying the same thing. I wasn't referring specifically to heat retention, but I agree 100% with what you said about it.

                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                        Cast iron has a high heat _capacity_ (a property of metals separate from conductivity) which means that once it gets up to temperature, putting on something cold will not decrease the pan's temperature because it still has alot of heat left in it. Its relatively poor heat conductivity means that a thin cast iron pan can heat up unevenly, but a thick pan can be at a uniform temperature.

                      2. re: FlyFish

                        I don't think I've heard or read that cast iron is a great conductor. I often hear people say that is a great choice for brasing because it retains heat and cooks evenly at lower temperatures. Which is true...

                        1. re: JudiAU

                          makes for a good indoor grilling pan...(cast iron)! I bought a stanless steel type pan from williams...anjd regret not buting the 1 sided stlye panini grill pan...because what i bought...bad grill marks...or lack there of.

                      3. cold water on your hands will keep onions from making you tear.

                        17 Replies
                        1. re: sgwood415

                          oh goodness, how many onion myths are there! Don't cut the root, use this or that sort of knife, jump on a pogo stick while cutting...

                          1. re: sgwood415

                            light a gas burner (stovetop) near where you chop onions to keep from tearing. yeeeah right

                            1. re: amandine

                              yeah...like these

                              hold a matchstick in your mouth

                              chew peppermint gum

                              I do however, find that if I breathe through my nose while chopping onions that I tear up faster, so be a mouth breather!

                              1. re: cooknKate

                                Or hold a piece of bread in your mouth...I think the only thing that would work would be swim goggles...

                                1. re: prunefeet

                                  I have noticed that when I have my contacts in, I have no problems chopping onions at all, but if I'm wearing my glasses I'm a teary mess. So the goggles idea isn't a bad one...

                                  1. re: ns538bmk

                                    this is how these things get started. Someone will say that goggles help, then it'll turn into you have to go swimming first. Before we know it people will have chlorine in the kitchen cause they heard it prevents the tears.

                                    1. re: amkirkland

                                      chlorine really works.. I tried it.. lol... Just kidding... Thats a good one :)

                                    2. re: ns538bmk

                                      Same here, I've been wearing contacts for over 30 years, and I always make sure they are in when cutting onions.

                                      If not - tears away.

                                      I now have toric, but even during the years of soft it was the same.

                                      1. re: hummingbird

                                        I can vouch for this as well, based upon semi-scientific observation: I wear contacts, and customarily have no problems with eyes watering while chopping onions. However, one day while working in a restaurant kitchen I managed to lose one lens mid-shift. When I proceeded to chop onions, the eye without the lens watered like mad, while the other was fine.

                                        1. re: Nom De Plume

                                          Please tell me it didn't end up in someone's dish!!

                                          1. re: hummingbird

                                            It's OK, I made sure to apply the three-second rule first! (just kidding; the lens fell in the sink).

                                          2. re: Nom De Plume

                                            Wow - I totally agree. I recently made the mistake of chopping onions without my lenses, wearing only my glasses, and had to stop before I finished. I couldn't see what I was chopping for the tears!

                                        2. re: ns538bmk

                                          Me too -- I've worn contacts so long that I thought I was just immune to the onion tearing, and then I chopped onions while wearing my glasses. Wow, what a difference.

                                      2. re: cooknKate

                                        My aunt just gave me the tip to clasp a paper plate in one's teeth while chopping onions. Supposedly blocks the rising vapors. I think I would gag doing it, not to mention the fact you couldn't see what you're doing - with a sharp knife!

                                        Um - I just learned to chop onions faster and get it over with (I am a weeper with onions).

                                        1. re: cayjohan

                                          I laughed so hard I cried. Paper plate in in one's teeth, freakin' hilarious.

                                          1. re: TampaBarb

                                            This has given me a FOOLPROOF idea! Since the paper plate obviously would work, but would prevent visibility, just wrap your head in saran wrap. presto! it's clear, but it still blocks the sulfuric acid!

                                    3. re: sgwood415

                                      In Mexico, some believe that putting a slice of onion on your head will prevent tears. I've seen this done; it's not just in the novel or movie, "Like Water For Chocolate".
                                      Uhh, I doubt that it works.

                                    4. "all the alcohol cooks away". Lots of scientific evidence that in typical cooking, it isn't true. I'm sure it makes no difference, for example, worrying about kids or pregnant women, since the amounts per serving are typically small anyway, but it can make a difference for people who don't touch alcohol for religious or health reasons.

                                      1. "Copper bowls whip egg whites faster."

                                        Balderdash.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                          I believe that this one has been proven to be scientifically true. See Harold McGee's "On Food and Cooking."

                                          1. re: amkirkland

                                            We all need a 'Myth Busters' food edition series to officially prove it all!

                                          2. re: Das Ubergeek

                                            I don't think that is quite correct. The copper bowl is supposed to help egg whites achieve fuller volume.

                                            1. re: Candy

                                              That might actually be true, but I've always heard it does it faster.

                                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                ahhh, i didn't read carefully

                                          3. There is one food that always tasts better the next day and every day thereafter till gone--- SOUP!!!

                                            1. Myth: you can't fry/deep fry in olive oil. Yes you can, but you can't reuse the oil (like you can with peanut oil)

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: onlytwomuses

                                                It depends on the temperature you need. If you heat up olive oil to higher temperatures, it tends to ruin its flavor, so you won't be able to use it again.

                                              2. Kitchen myths? That's easy--
                                                non-stick pans and no-wax floors.

                                                1. Myth--- you should not wash mushrooms as they will absorb water and get slimy. Mushrooms grow in a medium made up primarily of composted manure. Although the manure is sterilized it is manure nontheless and I would rather not eat it if I can avoid it.So I wash my cultivated mushrooms. Besides, how can something that is almost 90% water possibly absorb more water.

                                                  All of which reminds me of my fathers reply to the old saw " don't knock if you haven't tried it" ---his reply " I don't have to actually eat horse manure to know I'm not going to like it"

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: ishmael

                                                    Alton Brown did a bit on mushrooms where he took about a pound or so and weighed them, then washed them in water and weighed again, then soaked them for a while and weighed again. You're correct - no difference.

                                                    1. re: FlyFish

                                                      i tried washing my mushrooms once when making stuffed mushrooms. While baking they exuded so much liquid that they actually braised themselves. I have gone back to using a moist paper towl and have never had the same reaction.

                                                    2. re: ishmael

                                                      Commercially produced mushrooms are no longer grown on horse manure see the following:
                                                      http://www.mushroomcouncil.com/grow/g...

                                                      1. re: Candy

                                                        The link to Six Steps to Mushroom Farming on the cited page certainly gives the impression that horse manure is still used by some mushroom growers: http://www.mushroomcouncil.com/grow/s...
                                                        "Compost provides nutrients needed for mushrooms to grow. Two types of material are generally used for mushroom compost, the most used and least expensive being wheat straw-bedded horse manure. Synthetic compost is usually made from hay and crushed corncobs, although the term often refers to any mushroom compost where the prime ingredient is not horse manure. Both types of compost require the addition of nitrogen supplements and a conditioning agent, gypsum." from the second paragraph.

                                                    3. And old one: Searing food seals in the juices.

                                                      1. Regarding MartinDC's point that food does not taste better the second day but that we only think it tastes better-- isn't that the point?? Taste is a very subjective thing so if I think something tastes better then it does. There is no quantitative measure for taste that I'm aware of. How we taste food is a function of many external factors, so the absence of the desensitizing aspect of the olfactory stimulus of food cooking is just one of those factors.

                                                        There are many examples of food tasting better as it ripens or ages ( cheese, wine, cured meats and fish )so there may be some truth to the statement.

                                                        1. The "3-second rule"

                                                          13 Replies
                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                            The 3 second rule is not a myth. It is exactly how long you have to eat something off my floor before the dogs lay claim to it.

                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                              everyone knows it's really 10 seconds

                                                              1. re: amkirkland

                                                                Your dogs must be a lot slower than mine, then! LOL

                                                                1. re: Andiereid

                                                                  I always thought the 3-second rule was how long you should KEEP something on the floor to make it taste better ... something about flavor infusion.

                                                                  :-)

                                                                2. re: amkirkland

                                                                  I thought it was 5, but 10 sounds ok to me...

                                                                  1. re: prunefeet

                                                                    the kitchen floor is soley a dry rub marinade...unless it's a new house!

                                                                    1. re: prunefeet

                                                                      We live by the 5 second rule...10 if it's chocolate

                                                                      1. re: bacchus

                                                                        No rule if it is the last piece of pizza!

                                                                  2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                    Actually, there was a study released this summer, or late spring, that verified the 3 second rule. Basically, if what you are dropping is dry, and the surface upon which it is landing is dry, it holds true. Dropping things in wet messes is a bit different and probably best left to the dog:)

                                                                    1. re: BarefootandPregnant

                                                                      Referencing the "Mythbusters" television show (which always halts my channel surfing!), the five second rule was proven wrong. To quote the results...

                                                                      "They found that the amount of bacteria that was picked up depended on the moisture of food, the surface geometry of food, and the location that it was dropped on, but there was no correlation to the amount of time it was dropped"

                                                                      To read more...
                                                                      http://kwc.org/mythbusters/2005/10/my...

                                                                      Also in the show, a dog's mouth IS cleaner than a human's, and the toilet seat is cleaner than other household surfaces!

                                                                      1. re: sebastianxx

                                                                        I did a study where I dropped gummy dinosaurs onto different pieces of tile and carpet swabbed with E. coli, smeared the gummies onto agar plates, and incubated them to see what grew. Smooth tile transmits less bacteria than rough tile and carpet, but all transferred bacteria onto the gummy. However, your kitchen floor probably isn't kept at 98.6 degrees or warmer, so there's likely to be very little if any bacteria living on it.

                                                                        1. re: llamapyjamas

                                                                          how incredibly odd...

                                                                      2. re: BarefootandPregnant

                                                                        My two four-legged boys just cheered.

                                                                    2. Rubbing your hands on stainless steel will remove garlic odor. Psh. Please.

                                                                      15 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Andiereid

                                                                        the stainless steel really does work. wash your hands with soap and then take a spoon and pretend that is a bar of soap and rub your fingers on the spoon - trust me, if works. am not a scientist, so i don't know why it works - but it does.

                                                                        1. re: Andiereid

                                                                          But it does work-- just wash your hands FIRST, then rub on stainless steel.

                                                                          1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                            like, oh, the knife you cut it with? not the ridiculous bar of steel at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

                                                                            1. re: amkirkland

                                                                              Yeah, I never had a need for the "bar of steel soap"... on the other hands, I wouldn't use a knife, either... I tend to use a spoon, or the faucet on the sink, or the stainless steel sink if such is available to me...

                                                                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                I have the wonder bar and I can duly attest that it works to remove all odor of garlic and onion. It's like magic (although I have to think there must be some science behind it). I suppose other mestal surfaces work just as well, but it is *awfully* convenient.

                                                                                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                  My 20 year old garlic press is steel. After I use it, I rinse/clean it in cold water and rub my fingers over it. Not a whiff of garlic.

                                                                                  From an experience standpoint, this does work. What's the science behind it?

                                                                              2. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                yes there is actuall a stainless steel bar you can buy...saw it at a seafood restaurant bathroom...pretty cool.

                                                                              3. re: Andiereid

                                                                                a little toothpaste on your fingers will remove the smell though

                                                                                1. re: cooknKate

                                                                                  So will lemon juice.

                                                                                  1. re: ESNY

                                                                                    OK, I'll give the stainless steel another go. I've done the lemon juice and it works pretty well. Toothpaste I've never heard of. Have to give that one a whirl too!

                                                                                    1. re: Andiereid

                                                                                      Speaking of which, if you burn yourself and don't have any burn ointment, toothpaste will help soothe the affected area. Mint and baking soda paste work best, and paste, not gel. Learned this while (mis)using the popcorn machine in a movie theater (ouch!)

                                                                                      1. re: sebastianxx

                                                                                        definitely do not put butter on a burn.

                                                                                    2. re: ESNY

                                                                                      Lemon juice never helped me, neither rubbing my hands with salt. The stainless steel thing works for me just fine.

                                                                                  2. re: Andiereid

                                                                                    No, I've actually tried this one and was amazed.

                                                                                    1. re: Andiereid

                                                                                      I too will pile on.

                                                                                      This most definitely works.

                                                                                      DT

                                                                                    2. Olive oil in your pasta water will keep your noodles from sticking together. (Alton Brown did a whole show on cooking myths and disproved this one soundly.)

                                                                                      1. SELF CLEANING OVENS!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                                                        in our dreams maybe

                                                                                        11 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: amandine

                                                                                          I have now known three people who have put their ovens on self clean the day of a big party only to have it trip the thermostat, leaving them oven-less for the event. One of them unfortunately belonged to a guy who I was catering a charity dinner for that night. Wound up having to use the oven in the church across the street and spent the entire evening shuttling back and forth.

                                                                                          1. re: Andiereid

                                                                                            Why would you clean your oven the day of a dinner party?? Do it a couple days in advance.

                                                                                            DT

                                                                                            1. re: Davwud

                                                                                              My unspoken question to him that night. (Dude! WHY would you DO that TODAY of all days???) Whew. That evening was a booger.

                                                                                          2. re: amandine

                                                                                            ok- so how do I clean the oven without causing hazardous fumes from products? I just bought a new house & want to clean it from the previous owner. I was planning on trying the self-clean

                                                                                            1. re: pamd

                                                                                              well for sure the self-clean will remove anything living or dangerous. I actually am satisfied with it, but I may have a low threshold for "clean" :).

                                                                                              1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                I have "low thresholds for 'clean'" as well, but have found that my oven (sans self-cleaning capabilities) can do just fine with a few hours at its upper limit of 500 degrees.

                                                                                                Sweep/wipe all the backened bits out -i.e. anything that would smoke next time you use the oven.

                                                                                                I would avoid the oven-cleaner sprays. Yack. If there's something crusty that needs to be removed from your oven bottom, try a poultice of baking soda or a scour with kosher salt. Try not to worry about any baked-on brown greasiness elsewhere. Unless someone can tell me differently, the fact that I am not doing tandoori in my home range pretty much insulates me from too much angst regarding a less than pristine oven box.

                                                                                                Also - think of the well-seasoned cast-iron pan. We cook on that surface - why should our oven box bottom be held to a higher standard of "clean?"

                                                                                                1. re: cayjohan

                                                                                                  what about cleaning the inside of the door- the glass part?

                                                                                                  1. re: pamd

                                                                                                    Gah! I still don't completely understand why we need a window to our oven!! It's just a cleaning nightmare, IMO. I scrub using Alice's Wonder Spray (Google it for the recipe) and baking soda and elbow grease, but I don't worry too much about it. Maybe my next range will not have a window to deal with!

                                                                                                    Here's another question for the kitchen myth thread: does a window into your oven actually help you cook?

                                                                                                    1. re: cayjohan

                                                                                                      I certainly find a window in the oven door useful for checking things without having to open the door. Besides, it feels better to me.

                                                                                                      1. re: cayjohan

                                                                                                        several oven manufacturers make ovens without windows.
                                                                                                        you may be able to retrofit your oven to be windowless.

                                                                                                        but you're right - with the oven door so gunky, i end up
                                                                                                        opening the oven to see how things are doing anyway.

                                                                                                        1. re: cayjohan

                                                                                                          Mine's too (ahem) dirty to see through well. In my defense, it was the oven that came with the house, and I got it as clean as I could, and I still can't see through it well enough to tell anything except "is it on fire?". I always open the door.

                                                                                              2. Gas is better than electric. Maybe some people prefer it, but it's a myth that it is absolutely better. You do get faster heat times for cold water, but seriously, you can't simmer for poop, the flames go up the side of the pan blistering the handle, the smell is awful, you're constantly bending over peering at the flame as if somehow that will impart some degree of accuracy to a wild-ass guess as to how much heat you're imparting to whatever you are under- or over-cooking at the moment. We've evolved from those cave-dwelling times when we had to cook over an open flame, haven't we?

                                                                                                Ok. Sorry. The meds are kicking in and I'm much calmer now. It's just that I've recently moved into a house stuffed with a legacy of inadequate appliances, including a cranky and cantankerous gas stove.

                                                                                                And I've never blown my eyebrows off using electric, either.

                                                                                                19 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Loren3

                                                                                                  It's funny you mention the smell, because the smell of an electric stove heating is one of the worst things I can imagine... between that and not being able to kill the heat immediately, I'm no fan of an electric stove.

                                                                                                  I know there are fancy electric stoves that are instant-off and have the cool-touch coils and some don't even HAVE coils, but they're all much fancier than I'd need.

                                                                                                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                    not to sound like i'm trivializing, but how can electricity smell, unless the burners are dirty. and as for the immediate heat kill - just take it off the burner. that's what trivets are for.

                                                                                                    1. re: Loren3

                                                                                                      The burners probably are usually dirty, but they smell even after they've been cleaned. And in order to move things on to a trivet in my kitchen they'd have to be on the stove (where there's usually no room) or I'd have to move them quite a distance, which is annoying if it's heavy and/or boiling.

                                                                                                      No thanks. You can have your electric. I like my gas -- and as for those cave-dwelling times, love grilled things, maybe I'm just a Neanderthal at heart.

                                                                                                  2. re: Loren3

                                                                                                    Of course electric is better for cooking than gas - that's why you see only electric ranges in restaurant kitchens. ;^)

                                                                                                    1. re: FlyFish

                                                                                                      along with 3000cfm exhaust hoods and halon fire extinguishers and NSF-approved all-stainless cabinets and structures. in commercial cooking, there are other considerations 8-)

                                                                                                      1. re: Loren3

                                                                                                        Yes, but if electricity were a fundamentally better way to cook they'd be using it. They're not. End of argument.

                                                                                                        1. re: FlyFish

                                                                                                          except of course for money - gas is cheaper. End of argument.

                                                                                                          1. re: Loren3

                                                                                                            Yup, ya got me there. That's it for sure. Virtually every restaurant in the world is using gas because it's cheaper. The chef and all the cooks would really like to have electricity, but because gas is cheaper management forces it on them. Gee, I learn so much hanging out here.

                                                                                                            1. re: FlyFish

                                                                                                              I'm so lost in the sarcasm. You're like Israel and Palestine... I won't say who's who. anyway...for those of us who would like the best of both worlds... can anyone recommend a good portable gas burner... like those thing for flambe-ing. I don't want to break the bank, but i do want to get some Btus pumping. Isn't compromise beautiful?

                                                                                                              1. re: FlyFish

                                                                                                                It is a consideration. All sarcasm aside, there are cost, infrastructure, and cultural considerations to commercial kitchens that don't apply to the home. To add an electric stove requires that the wiring loads be calculated, breakers installed, if the breaker box is too small, now you need a new breaker box, and that may mean a new feed from the street. To add a gas stove, you need only a few feet of pipe.

                                                                                                                Gas stoves are more fuel efficient, and maybe that extra 30% soesn't matter to domestic kitchens where the one stove is on only for a couple of hours a day, but for a commercial kitchen with a dozen or more burners running 12 or more hours a day, that's big.

                                                                                                                And there's the cultural thing. Doctors in med school learn as much about diagnostic equipment as they do the human body. Mechanics learn as much about tools as the do car engines. And culinary schools teach cooking with gas because that's the tool of the trade. What's the incentive to learn anything else?

                                                                                                                Assuming that gas is automatically better because that's what is in a commercial kitchen is like assuming that diesel is better than gasoline because that's what commercial truckers use, or that rear wheel drive is automatically better than front because that's what race car drivers have. Different applications require different technology, and my point is that the technology requirements of the home are such that there are benefits to electric over gas that get ignored or overlooked when people say that commercial kitchens use gas and therefore it is automatically better. I've spent many years with both, and can't afford (nor have room for) a full sized commercial gas stove. For my price range and what I cook, I have found electric to be preferable to gas most of the time. Thanks.

                                                                                                                1. re: Loren3

                                                                                                                  Well-written. I'll just say that for a decent gas stove (meaning one that can really put out the BTUs for applications like woks), it's often a matter of infrastructure as well -- the normal half-inch or one-inch gas pipe can't handle multiple woks or grills... so then you have the problem of having to repipe.

                                                                                                                  That said, your point is quite valid. It is, ultimately, a choice -- I personally can't stand electric stoves because when it boils down it, it screws with my cooking rhythm. YMMV -- and so might anyone else's.

                                                                                                        2. re: FlyFish

                                                                                                          Actually gas is the preferred fuel in most of North America because it is so plentiful and inexpensive relative to electricity. Commercial gas cooking appliancs are also cheaper to manufacture than electric therefore the dominance of gas over electric in commercial kitchens. In many parts of the world natural gas is unavailable so electric appliance asre the norm ( cruise ships being a prime example) and chefs who have worked with both seem to prefer electric. Magnetic induction range tops, while still relatively expensive are overwhelmingly preferred over gas by professional cooks.

                                                                                                        3. re: Loren3

                                                                                                          Loren, Our kitchen remodel including converting to gas ranges. I would never, ever go back to electric. Heat control--especially for sauces--is 10X easier with gas. (Gas is for the cook top, not the oven; electric ovens still rule that domain.) Try one of the new gas ranges with a new prescription and I think you'll agree!

                                                                                                          1. re: Loren3

                                                                                                            I agree with all the above about the benefits to gas. I would add that you can simmer quite comfortably. You just need a cast-iron simmer plate that goes between your pot and the flame.

                                                                                                            Also, I don't understand your comments about accuracy! With you gas you turn the dial until the flame is the right size and go. With electric you have to factor in the heat up and cool down cycles!

                                                                                                            1. re: Atahualpa

                                                                                                              and the cast iron simmer plate is going to interfere with your immediate cool-down when you turn off the gas. to me, that's a kluge.

                                                                                                            2. re: Loren3

                                                                                                              Can't flambe with electric. Can't roast marshmellows on electric (or peppers or hot dogs). I definitely prefer gas.

                                                                                                              I would say that for sauces and working with something delicate like custards or chocolates, electric has it's place. I believe I have seen gas ranges with electric heating for sauces.

                                                                                                              1. re: rcheng

                                                                                                                I'm dying for gas, BUT I have roasted peppers and heated tortillas directly on the coils. Worked for me.

                                                                                                                1. re: rcheng

                                                                                                                  as for marshmallows - why would you roast those indoors? that's why we have an outdoor firepit! smores on a gas ring? sacrilege!

                                                                                                                  1. re: Loren3

                                                                                                                    because some people live in apartments

                                                                                                              2. In the vain of gas is better than electric... or charcoal is better than gas, organic tastes better than standard, grass fed is better than corn fed, King Arthur is better than Gold Medal... etc. How about anything that follows the form "X is better than Y" despite the fact that it has been debated for decades.

                                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: amkirkland

                                                                                                                  Well, the one thing about grass fed vs. corn fed, is when you're talking beef, grass fed is certainly healthier for you.

                                                                                                                  1. re: sgwood415

                                                                                                                    and it tastes better too!

                                                                                                                    1. re: cooknKate

                                                                                                                      now there you go...

                                                                                                                    2. re: sgwood415

                                                                                                                      true

                                                                                                                    3. re: amkirkland

                                                                                                                      thank you for echoing my original point. both gas and electric have certain advantages and disadvantages, and the belief that either one is absolutely the only way to go is, in fact, the myth.

                                                                                                                      and some of the worst-tasting eggs i've ever had in my life were organic!

                                                                                                                    4. I have one which I've seen repeated on just about every cooking show on "that network" lately; Never use a mixer for mashed/whipped potatoes as they'll get gummy/heavy/your-adjective-here. Only a ricer will produce non-gummy potatoes." Hmph.

                                                                                                                      The one I bought into (expensively) speaking of mixers... that the KA is the only way to go. Gods, I hate that mixer. I'd give anything to have my Grandmother's old Sunbeam back.

                                                                                                                      27 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: shanagain

                                                                                                                        if you whip at a low speed you will get fluffy mashed potatoes with a mixer, but you can't over mix, and it can't be on high.

                                                                                                                        i personally don't care for riced potatoes, something about the texture of it, i like to just break them up with a spoon or use a good ol' fashioned potato masher tool

                                                                                                                        1. re: cooknKate

                                                                                                                          Right, and you have to have the right melted butter and milk (or half and half or cream) mixture down. But gummy? Not in my kitchen.

                                                                                                                          (Riced anything generally doesn't do much for me, having riced my share of misc. stuff when my eldest was a baby.)

                                                                                                                          1. re: shanagain

                                                                                                                            yes heat the milk first

                                                                                                                            1. re: shanagain

                                                                                                                              I always use a hand mixer for my mashed potatoes. It produces the fluffiest result.

                                                                                                                              1. re: MVNYC

                                                                                                                                Well since we're on the subject of mashed potatoes here, why do people think you can't have lumps. I love the lumps. The odd bit of toothy potatoes in amongst the whipped potato is great.

                                                                                                                                DT

                                                                                                                                1. re: Davwud

                                                                                                                                  I think that's only for those of us who really like potatoes.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Davwud

                                                                                                                                    I agree wholeheartedly, I find the varied texture on lumpy mashed potatoes more appealing. Even a small clump in the gravy is good ,IMHO, it makes it obvious that it didn't came from a can. (or jar)

                                                                                                                                    1. re: atomicdogs

                                                                                                                                      I agree with you on the gravy. Just so long as it's not a lump of flour that didn't incorporate.

                                                                                                                                      DT

                                                                                                                                      1. re: atomicdogs

                                                                                                                                        Yes and yes, I agree.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: atomicdogs

                                                                                                                                          I dont understand gravy lumps, its so easy to make, just pour the boiling broth into the hot roux and whisk. no lumps. Gravy should not have lumps, nor should whipped potatoes in my opinion.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: MVNYC

                                                                                                                                            The lumps I like in gravy are little bits of meat and stuff. I'm not that big on "Whipped" potatoes. I like mine "Mashed." Then pour slightly lumpy gravy on them. Mmmmmmmm

                                                                                                                                            DT

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Davwud

                                                                                                                                              ah my gravy has meat in it, i always took those to mean lumps of unincorporated flour

                                                                                                                                              1. re: MVNYC

                                                                                                                                                It's quite easy to tell the difference. When you bite into it anyway. Unincorporated flour tastes about as appetizing as it sounds.

                                                                                                                                                DT

                                                                                                                                              2. re: Davwud

                                                                                                                                                I like whipped and mashed and "smashed" - it depends upon the meal. Holiday meals call for light, fluffy whipped potatoes, but good old "bangers and mash" require big toothsome lumps. And there's nothing better than skin-on "smashed" with cheese, sour cream, bacon, butter and fresh chives next to a steak.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: shanagain

                                                                                                                                    Can you elaborate on why you don't like you KA stand mixer? Also, if I pay you shipping will you send it to me? If you really do hate it and don't, therefore, use it. I'm a university student who has been longing for one for a very long time now but can't bear to part with th $200 (and that's for a display model from the factory outlet during one of their bi-annual sales).

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Atahualpa

                                                                                                                                      I agree with you. I bought mine with Air Miles. I love it but couldn't justify buying one.

                                                                                                                                      DT

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Atahualpa

                                                                                                                                        May you get one for graduation. That was my graduation present from my family when I got out of grad. school. Best gift EVER.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Atahualpa

                                                                                                                                          I was in the same boat in college. Just keep looking on Ebay. There's so many there that every once in a while a great deal slips through. I got mine for about 125 incl. shipping. It's like a rock. Once when kneading a particularly stiff dough it rocked itself off the counter to the ground. I picked it up, plugged it in and it had no idea what had happened. Good luck in your search!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: amkirkland

                                                                                                                                            Last year I was doing a really stiff cookie dough with my 30 year old KA and the bowl came loose and started banging around. I found that it had sheared off the little tabs that held the bowl on. I called them and they immediately sent me a new plate for FREE. I'll be using mine until the day I leave this earth.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: amkirkland

                                                                                                                                              I am a huge fan of KA. I got one last Christmas, the big one, that has the lever raise it up and down. I felt that the one that tilts back would just do my back in.

                                                                                                                                              But I have used it for so many different things from bread doughs to eggs and the lighter fair. My only problem was I had kept in the pantry on a shelf. It is so doggone heavy I had to find a better way to store it. So I found a little cart from the 50s (remember the little metal red or yellow carts?) Well I found one that was painted white and my red beauty sits on top like a trophy.

                                                                                                                                              Now when I use a hand mixer its like I'm outta control with food flying everywhere! But they have their purpose too along with the little boat motor. I love my kitchen stuff!

                                                                                                                                              1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                                                                                I can't possibly imagine how the tilt head could do your back in. I have the tilt head. Alton Brown pointed out that it's better because you can take the bowl out without any disassembly. That and that's the one that air miles had.

                                                                                                                                                DT

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Davwud

                                                                                                                                                  how many miles did it cost?

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: amkirkland

                                                                                                                                                    I don't remember now. It was about 5 years ago. A quick look on airmiles shows that it's 3050 miles.

                                                                                                                                                    DT

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Davwud

                                                                                                                                                    Maybe because I've had a couple of spine surgeries. I just thought it looked too heavy for me. I take its not.

                                                                                                                                                    But I am a whimp, I hurt myself moving it around on the counter even. But I love it otherwise for so many other reasons...

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                                                                                      I love my KA and recently got the ice cream maker attachment. Awesome!

                                                                                                                                              2. re: Atahualpa

                                                                                                                                                i got a factory rebuilt 5 quart, 450 watt pro for $159 with free shipping and a $25 off coupon at amazon. i just looked, and there's nothing there. i keep checking.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Atahualpa

                                                                                                                                                  LOL, I'm almost tempted to take you up on it, but unfortunately that would leave me totally mixerless during the cookie season. (I do keep my eye out for the old Sunbeam my Grandmother passed down to my mother.)

                                                                                                                                                  It's hard to say why exactly why I hate it, except that it doesn't handle batters, cookie doughs and potatoes the way the old mixer did. No splashing (we joke that it isn't a holiday meal around here without milk and butter splashing out of that mixer at least once no matter how careful we're trying to be) and more important, you rarely had to scrape down the sides of the old Sunbeam, and when you did you could do it without stopping the mixer, which is tricky with the KA.

                                                                                                                                                  And I hate that my bowl has that little curved area on the bottom, you know, where it bumps up into the bowl instead of having a flat bottom like every other mixing bowl in the world. Is there some point to that design?

                                                                                                                                                  I find it funny that whenever I mention that I hate my mixer, people tend to think its heresy. ;-)

                                                                                                                                              3. I don't know if this really qualifies as a myth or just convention. Dicing your aromatics all the same size so they'll all cook to the same doneness. To me, it's better if they vary a bit in size. That was you'll have some melt into whatever you're cooking and add body and back ground yet you still have a little bite of it here and there to punch up the flavour. Plus provide a bit of texture.

                                                                                                                                                DT

                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                1. re: Davwud

                                                                                                                                                  What about storing foods in the cans they came in...(not that i buy caned foods).

                                                                                                                                                2. I've several times seen the recommendation to mix oil and butter when sauteeing, in order to cook at higher temperatures without the butter burning. Julia Child, for example, gave that advice, and recipes frequently call for a mixture of oil and butter. But I don't see how this could work. I'd think the milk solids would burn at 250F, regardless of whether they were dissolved in butter fat or a mixture of butter fat and vegetable oil.

                                                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: pgallagher4

                                                                                                                                                    That one is more about flavor and color. It's not a myth at all. The way I heard it explained, the butter adds color to your dish because it browns a bit. The olive oil helps with the cooking. Flavorwise, the butter gives you that nutty taste when it browns. And we all know what olive oil does for cooking. Some recipes call for it, but I'd guess it's also more of a technique preference.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: pgallagher4

                                                                                                                                                      Now that you mention it, it doesn't seem to make sense, but I do it every once in a while and it seems to me that I can get the oil to a higher heat without any burning than I could with butter alone. Am I fooling myself?

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Marsha

                                                                                                                                                        You see, I alway just assumed it only cut down how much butter there was to burn. But, did not actually stop that butter from burning.

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: pgallagher4

                                                                                                                                                        The smoking point of an oil has to do with both the dissolved solids (which just burn) and the level of saturation of the fatty acids (which is what is what causes the actual oil part to burn, catch fire and result in lots of loads of laundry and chinese take-out). Mixing the different fats has no effect whatsoever on the burning of the butter solids or the smoke point of the fatty acids that make up the oils. So, in a way it raises the smoke point in that there are more fatty acids that will not start burning, but if you're at a temp that butter would burn, then the butter fats in any mix will start burning at that same temp. Think about how whisps of smoke come off of oil long before it really starts smoking. Some fatty acids are breaking down, but not all. I'm willing to be proven wrong, but I'm pretty certain about this.

                                                                                                                                                      3. myth that adding salt to water first will slow it down to reaching boiling temperature. not true.

                                                                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                                                                          I'm not sure that it's in fact, not true. Adding salt to water increases the boiling point so it takes longer to reach the boiling point. So it doesn't actually slow the water temp down. Just slows the process to get to the boiling point down.

                                                                                                                                                          DT

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Davwud

                                                                                                                                                            Well, either you put the salt in and it takes longer because of the elevated boiling point, or you don't and it comes to the boil sooner but then takes longer to return to the salty boil.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Davwud

                                                                                                                                                              Adding salt does incrase the boiling temp, but I don't think you could add enough salt to even effect a one degree change.

                                                                                                                                                              I've actually more commonly heard the opposite, that salt speeds up the boiling process, which is also untrue. Salt just gives bubbles a place to form when thrown in water which is likely superheated do to pressure

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                                                                              I read somewhere that you should add the salt after your water is boiling to prevent the salt from pitting your pot. Any thoughts on that?

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: bacchus

                                                                                                                                                                I have the pitted stainless steel Revere pots to prove that this is not a myth, at least as far as stainless steel pots go. My new All-Clad pots (new since I learned about not salting the cold water, many years ago now) still look new on the inside.

                                                                                                                                                            3. What about the myth that hot water freezes faster than cold in ice cube trays?

                                                                                                                                                              1. Myth that using hot water in your ice cube tray will form ice cubes faster than using cold water.

                                                                                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sgwood415

                                                                                                                                                                  Wow sgwood - I think we posted that one simultaneously.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sgwood415

                                                                                                                                                                    I always heard the reason to use hot water in ice cube trays was *not* that it froze faster, but that it gave you clear ice cubes. By the way, it does.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: DanaB

                                                                                                                                                                      Anyone have an explanation for this? Is there less air in hot water?

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: amkirkland

                                                                                                                                                                        Gases are less soluble in hot water than in cold (gas solubility is an inverse function to temperature). Therefore, heating water can decrease the amount of dissolved air.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. A cup of cold water will freeze faster than a cup of hot water. But if *steam* is carrying water out of the hot water cup, reducing the amount of water in the cup, we're talking about a cup of water and maybe 9/10ths of a cup of water, now at the same temperature. The lesser amount will freeze faster.

                                                                                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                      well, there r a lot of "ifs" to that question and answer.

                                                                                                                                                                      u stated a specific volume of water . U did that for a reason?

                                                                                                                                                                      cold water freezes faster than hot water- if u wanna state volumes , then things change, obviously 1 cup of cold will not freeze faster than 1/4 cup of hot. Also, whether both cups r in the same freezer , or in different freezers, makes a difference. Also, how "hot" is hot and how "cold" is cold?

                                                                                                                                                                      cold water freezes faster - because it has less btu's to lose, which must be lost in order to freeze.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: dibob817

                                                                                                                                                                        If you put an equal volume of hot and cold water in, the cold water will freeze first. However, the hot water freezes at a faster rate (makes sense; temperature-wise, it has a lot further to go). So really, it all depends on how you define "faster."

                                                                                                                                                                        Hooray for public high school science class. Not enough money for real experiments, so we watched water freeze.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                        I always assumed that my grandmother's belief that hot water freezes faster than cold was really an artifact of the old fashioned non-self-defrosting refrigerator. Putting hot ice trays in the freezer melted a spot in contact with the freezer coils, allowing the water to freeze faster. ceteris paribus - cold must freeze faster because there are fewer calories to lose before getting to the freezing point.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Loren3

                                                                                                                                                                          there have been cases where, with equal volumes of water, one hotter than the other, the hotter one reached a frozen state sooner. These are rare and difficult to replicate circumstances which arise from the fact that all thing are NOT equal. i.e. like someone mentioned above, the possibility of evaporation which leaves a much smaller amount of water to freeze.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: amkirkland

                                                                                                                                                                            but wouldn't the hot water drop the temp of your freezer?

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: TampaBarb

                                                                                                                                                                              for sure. but then the freezer would respond by going into overdrive, kicking out colder air, creating a convection current... maybe. I have no idea how it has happened, the proof is that it has, but in rare and not easily reproducable circumstances.

                                                                                                                                                                      3. Microwaving mayonnaise will immediately produce a bacteria infested toxin...

                                                                                                                                                                        Roasting chicken/turkey with citrus makes the meat of the bird more juicy...

                                                                                                                                                                        Brats should be cooked in beer (just makes it a pain having to skim the suds)

                                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Jay

                                                                                                                                                                          Better; brats should be accompanied by beer to drink. ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Jay

                                                                                                                                                                            I've never heard the mayonaise one. how odd. And i agree with anonimo. Why should the brats get to bathe in beer? Save it for the humans!

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Jay

                                                                                                                                                                              Cooking brats in beer makes a huge difference. 50/50 lager and water and a small handful of onion slices. Definitely not a myth.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. Ok don't kill me. Some idiot told me this one which I never tried but maybe someone here can enlighten me.

                                                                                                                                                                              That by putting a fork in a champagne bottle will retain the fizz if you don't drink it all. I have never had this problem with left over champagne, but thought that this was one of the silliest things I'd heard.

                                                                                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                                                                                                                How in hells bells does one get a fork in the bottle? Who in heck can't finish it either?

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                                                                                                                  I've heard that one but it was a spoon. Here's a debunk

                                                                                                                                                                                  http://www.stanford.edu/dept/news/pr/...

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chris VR

                                                                                                                                                                                    I can't believe that even warranted debunking

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Chris VR

                                                                                                                                                                                      Like I said, an idiot told me. I feel so much better knowing the truth now!

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. "Putting the avocado pit in guacamole will keep it from turning brown"

                                                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Scagnetti

                                                                                                                                                                                      Yeah but sealing it in a Foodsaver bag does keep it from going brown. Avocado halves, too!

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chris VR

                                                                                                                                                                                        What causes avocado browning is oxidation. The only method I've found that works is to press plastic wrap directly on the top of the bowl of guacamole or the cut half of the avocado. I would guess the foodsaver bag works for this same reason.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Neither putting a pit in the guacamole or adding citrus works.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Scagnetti

                                                                                                                                                                                        Just put some citrus juice in it, then eat it all up so you don't have to worry!

                                                                                                                                                                                      3. But doesn't partially hydrogenated lard give you the worst of both shortenings? Unfortunately, finding lard that isn't partially hydrogenated is difficult in many parts of the country.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Eldon Kreider

                                                                                                                                                                                          good point. many people don't realize that supermarket lard is often partially hydrogenated for stability. Neither does discovering that one thing is bad make another good. As if the fact that cigars are worse for you than cigarettes could make cigarettes any better. However xyz's point is clear in the three words "... in good measure." which for me means lard will always be in my biscuits.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: amkirkland

                                                                                                                                                                                            Make your own lard! It's pretty easy to render some pork fat.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Especially if you live near a Mexican/Latin area of town where they'll often sell big things of pork fat that you can render yourself.

                                                                                                                                                                                            It's easy and very tasty.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Here's one: Putting a cork in the water when cooking octopus makes it more tender. I personally don't believe it but I've never done it without one anyway.