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Jul 25, 2008 04:50 PM

Oven cooking (not baking) at 6500' elevation

We have a second home at 6500' elevation and so deal with some cooking adjustments. What I haven't been able to solidly deal with is what my oven temp should be. I don't bake bread, cakes, etc. so it's roasting and general baking that I'm talking about. I generally turn the oven up about 25 degrees higher than a recipe states but I'm just not sure what works best. I roasted a chicken the other night (25 degrees higher) and it took MUCH longer than it should have. I would appreciate any information that anyone has. Thanks.

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  1. One thing that helps at high elevation is to raise the humidity in your oven. A shallow pan of hot water below the item you cook will do the trick. Hope this helps.

      1. re: Antilope

        Thanks for all the links and info. My mother-in-law lives at 5000' and I have no problem there. I always use my meat thermometer but "cook until done" doesn't always work. When the roast chicken takes 30 minutes longer than anticipated and you've timed other dishes somewhat around a shorter time AND dinner guests are starting to circle the range.... I'll check out all of these and try them. The humidity issue is interesting to me because it is VERY dry where we are. Thanks all.

      2. The key point is that boiling water (and steam) is colder at higher altitudes. So cooking that is dominated by the transfer of heat from boiling water is going to take longer. That includes braising, simmering, and steaming. Dry heat cooking, such as grilling a steak or burger isn't affected as much. Roasting might fall somewhere in the middle. The oven temperature is determined by its thermostat, but transfer of that heat into and through the meat will be affected by moisture in the meat. That moisture will evaporate at a lower temperature. So the meat may dry out, and may take longer to heat up.

        1 Reply
        1. re: paulj

          I live at 8500' and I agree with paulj.
          Braising takes 20-30% longer than at sea level.
          Steaming takes just a little longer.
          Simmering varies a lot.
          Some sauces take a little longer and need a bit more moisture to avoid too much boiling off.
          Dry roasting is about the same: I do most meat at a low temp so evaporation is limited. I only use high heat on a roast to get a crust. I do filet mignon in a cast iron pan at 350 after browning on the stove -- works great: medium rare, moist and tender.

          I generally use a convection oven 20degrees lower than a standard oven recipe calls for and times tend to work out.

        2. I'm at almost 5000 ft. and I don't make a lot of adjustments, especially if you aren't baking. Cook 'til done. Use your thermometer.

          1. I live at about 5600 feet, and find many things take longer (even baked potatoes)... the pan of water in the oven does help... but also, I tend to increase the temp about 15-25 degrees like you mentioned... I also use my dutch oven a lot... don't ask me the science behind it, but same with boiling water on the range top... things cook or boil faster with a lid on them.

            I had to laugh about waiting for your chicken to cook... I nearly starved my dinner guests to death one night... ended up serving salad and side dishes... and then dessert... we ate the chicken the next night on a salad.