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trouble sweating vegetables

sasserwazr Mar 29, 2009 12:07 AM

its kinda hit or miss with onions and really hard on heartier vegs like carrots. how do you sweat your veggies? i know low heat..i've done this but i usually find them showing a little char after 5 minutes. i wonder if i shouldn't stir the veggies when i throw them in there at first. i have a feeling that stirring them reduces the amount of oil in contact with the food and pan. does this cause burning. should i possibly use more oil or how about an oil with a lower smoke point than extra virgin olive.

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  1. ipsedixit RE: sasserwazr Mar 29, 2009 01:08 AM

    I actually stir quite often when sweating aromatics.

    And, it still sounds like the heat in your pan is still too high, esp. if your veggies are showing char after 5 minutes.

    Since you will be sweating the vegetables over very low heat, you can use a fat with a low smoking point like butter or extra virgin olive oil.

    1. j
      janniecooks RE: sasserwazr Mar 29, 2009 05:00 AM

      What ipsedixit said. And most of the time the pan is covered.

      1. sixelagogo RE: sasserwazr Mar 29, 2009 05:02 AM

        i put a lid on my veggies when sweating- the moisture limits burning and allows the flavor to be leached out of veggies, not locked in.

        Also i recommend a heavier pan, if you have one...cheap pots (i.e. the dreaded Revereware) have a tendency to scorch no matter how low you go.

        1 Reply
        1. re: sixelagogo
          alkapal RE: sixelagogo Mar 29, 2009 08:04 AM

          old revereware was better and heavier. i have several pieces that i routinely use. but for sweating, i use my all-round non-stick chicken fryer pan, at medium low, with neutral or evoo. stirring every now and then.

        2. MGZ RE: sasserwazr Mar 29, 2009 06:23 AM


          1 Reply
          1. re: MGZ
            Demented RE: MGZ Mar 29, 2009 07:05 AM

            Yes please.

          2. Demented RE: sasserwazr Mar 29, 2009 07:13 AM

            Smoke point extra virgin olive oil 320° - 375° F. depending on quality.
            Butter smokes around 350° F.

            Turn down the heat if your veg is browning.

            Being hygroscopic, salt will help pull the moisture from the vegetables you are sweating. Covering the pan with a lid will help keep the moisture in the pan, that's where we want it. Lacking a lid for the pan, aluminum foil can be put right on top of whatever it is your sweating.

            Most of all... Take your time and don't sweat it.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Demented
              Boccone Dolce RE: Demented Mar 30, 2009 03:59 PM

              Ha! Demented said don't sweat it!

              I use low heat and ignorance. Yup- try to ignore them (they are boring and take a while so this is easy to do) and let them get all shvitzy under the lid or no lid, either way. I don't move them around too much, they don't char unless I try and do like 1/2 an onion in a big hurry- then it's not happening, they will pick up color (not a big deal to me).

              1. re: Boccone Dolce
                Demented RE: Boccone Dolce Apr 2, 2009 08:22 PM

                LOL, I was sure someone would get it!

                Good point, put the pan on low heat and walk away.

                1. re: Demented
                  alkapal RE: Demented Apr 3, 2009 04:40 AM

                  >>>>I was sure someone would get it<<<<

                  d -- you're surprised?

                  1. re: Demented
                    kchurchill5 RE: Demented Apr 3, 2009 08:12 AM

                    Pan on low, heavy pan, stir just a couple of times, a little salt but I don't use a lid. But very low is a key and stir when you first put them into cover everything. You should have to use that much oil. I mix butter and olive but again low. And all veggies should be cut in similar sizes.

              2. hotoynoodle RE: sasserwazr Apr 3, 2009 06:16 AM

                "i wonder if i shouldn't stir the veggies when i throw them in there at first. i have a feeling that stirring them reduces the amount of oil in contact with the food and pan."

                yes, stir the stuff as soon as it hits the pan. coating each piece with oil will help prevent burning. very low heat. salt. i don't like a lid because that makes it more like steaming.

                btw, it's an unnecessary expense to sautee with extra virgin. as you've noted it's got a pretty low smoke point and most of the fruitiness cooks off. use it as a finisher, not a cooking medium.

                1. s
                  silverhawk RE: sasserwazr Apr 3, 2009 07:55 AM

                  i heat a heavy pan of vegetables stove-top and then pop them in a low oven to sweat.

                  1. e
                    EdwardAdams RE: sasserwazr Apr 3, 2009 08:07 AM

                    If I am in a hurry, I will add a teaspoon of water and cover to start, then finish with the top off.

                    1. sarah galvin RE: sasserwazr Apr 3, 2009 06:17 PM

                      Sweating is with the lid on. Hence, the word sweat. Low heat and the lid on.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: sarah galvin
                        alkapal RE: sarah galvin Apr 3, 2009 06:36 PM

                        i've seen tv chefs sweating veggies without the lids -- including real chefs like jacques and lidia. am i wrong?

                        i sweat in a sauna. without my lid. ;-).

                        btw, folks, look at the ads to the right of this thread -- "sponsored links"
                        "stop excessive sweating!" LOL!

                        1. re: alkapal
                          Will Owen RE: alkapal Apr 3, 2009 06:47 PM

                          Those guys are cooking on burners that will go low enough you could almost lay a sheet of paper on it safely! Heavy pans, too. If you have a good heavy pot and an iron flame-tamer (assuming you're using gas) you can safely slow-cook a pot of onions in butter down to a fine caramelized half-melted perfection. You do NOT want to keep poking at it or stirring, but you do need to keep an eye on it.

                          1. re: Will Owen
                            sasserwazr RE: Will Owen Apr 5, 2009 12:50 AM

                            i should probably mention that i use a glass top stove. its lowest setting is not very low at all.

                          2. re: alkapal
                            hotoynoodle RE: alkapal Apr 3, 2009 08:22 PM

                            restaurant cooks don't use lids. the stoves get hotter more quickly than does a home stove; a lid is something else to keep track of and get washed.

                            i don't like a lid when i'm sweating or reducing. rather than evaporating it, which is what the process is supposed to do, it adds water. it's closer to steaming than sweating. yeah, there IS a difference. i also like being able to watch it out of the corner of my eye. a lid means i stop paying attention.

                            1. re: alkapal
                              sixelagogo RE: alkapal Apr 4, 2009 03:36 AM

                              lol to alkapal!!

                            2. re: sarah galvin
                              EdwardAdams RE: sarah galvin Apr 4, 2009 05:32 AM

                              Harold McGee says sweating is "underfrying" to "develop and concentrate flavors". Concentrating flavors generally involves evaporating or "sweating" the moisture out of the vegetables. Adding a lid or a bit of water initially is just a cheat to get the cell walls to soften, making the rest of the process a bit quicker.

                            3. sarah galvin RE: sasserwazr Apr 4, 2009 07:16 PM

                              My research shows both - lid on (traditional) or lid off. I find it is easier to not brown if I leave the lid on. If I want to reduce it after sweating, then I take the lid off.

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