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Jan 30, 2008 02:57 PM

After you've boiled your vegetables ...

... are there any good culinary uses for the left-over water?

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  1. If you are boiling green or yellow vegetables, you might as well toss them out and drink the water!

    Boiling (shudder) vegetables which contain heat-sensitive and water-soluable vitamins and minerals just leaches most of the goodness out. The only thing left is the cellulose or "fiber".

    Please get yourself an inexpensive steamer basket. You'll be amazed at the difference in flavor and in quality of texture! Steam veggies over simmering water, or better yet use waterless cookware, which cooks via steam in a vaccum with virtually no water. (Literally rinse veggies and put them in a dry pan over moderate heat, cover, and turn down to a whisper of heat to form the vaccum. The lid pulls down tight and veggies like broccoli are cooked al dente in about 4 minutes.) In either method, the veggies are not IN the water, so the nutrients are not lost to it.

    But to answer your original question, use it for soup, or put it in a veggie smoothie.

    4 Replies
    1. re: toodie jane

      I wonder about this sometimes. If I steam over a quantity of water, it still looks like the water takes on color and flavor. I often use a pan with a tight lid and just a touch of water to cook vegetables so that there is no water left at the end, although I may need to add some during the cooking process. No clue if that retains the nutrients better. Maybe someone can chime in. As to the original questions, if I have something else cooking that needs a neutral liquid I will use it although I rarely boil vegetables.

      1. re: toodie jane

        Only if you boil them way too long, no? Chinese flash-boil vegies like choi sum and gai lan all the time. And I do the same at home. The secret is to just drop them in the boiling water (or better yet, stock) for a very, very short time i.e. 30 seconds to one minute. The vegies are hot but still quite crunchy. Of course leaving any vegie in boiling water for too long drains them of all nutrients. I'll then use the remaining leftover stock for a soup stock or let cool and use it to water my plants!

        1. re: scoopG

          I agree; I like to drop them into boiling water to blanch them, then cool them quickly under running water, then saute. They get a nice browned exterior, while being done in the center (broccoli for example)

          1. re: DGresh

            Yup, that's what I do with some of my veggies, esp. things like chinese broccoli, cauliflower and bok choi.

      2. Just say no....

        yikes boiled vegetables....

        1. You could make soup like Gordon Ramsay does... he boils his broccoli, reserves the water, puts the broccoli in a blender and adds water until the soup reaches his desired consistency. You can of course add a bit of olive oil, spices, and parmesan cheese, but a bit of salt and pepper does me A-OK.

          Another thing I've done with reserved boil water is to use it to make pasta or bread... I know it sounds weird, but it's a way to use up the nutrients and liquid and a bit of flavor all at once.

          I steam my veggies, as it's my favorite taste prep, but boiling has it's place, especially (forgetting the lost nutrients) if you like the taste of soggier vegetables... I like this with cauliflower, once it's chilled, as they serve in Ralph's market salad bars.

          1. The original comment has been removed
            1. I use the water I have boiled the potaotes for mashed potatoes in for making gravy for the meal.