Stovetop Temperature Settings for Cooking & Boiling Water
I've been wondering about this for a while. Most high quality cookware makers recommend that their pots and pans only be used on low to medium heat settings. I assume this is primarily because high quality cookware conducts heat directly to he food very well. I generally follow these instructions and have found that most things cook very well on low temps. For example, I have a very basic gas stove that offers the following dial settings: "Low-2-3-4-5-6-High." Oatmeal cooks very well in a small copper saucepan on 2. Pancetta fries nicely in my dutch oven on 4.
So here's my question. Does anyone bring water to a boil at anything lower than the highest temp they have? I always used to sent the burner to "high" to bring water to a boil (regardless of the vessel), but then I got a Simplex kettle, and they recommended using a low temp setting (for a kettle!). Then I got to thinking about all the other low temp recommendations, and I am wondering what you all do.
Quoting sueatmo: "It makes no sense to boil water on less than high."
I qualifiedly agree, the qualification being: If you are using a high-conductivity vessel (lidded or not), and you walk away from the hob, the time until the vessel boils dry can be too short. Setting the heat to a place you *know* willl achieve a vigorous simmer /gentle boil gives you a comfortable margin to step or look away.
This will sound odd, but always boiling on High can also take "too *long*" This is nothing but the old adage: A watched pot never boils. For instance, if I want tea when I rise, the kitchen can be a cold place to hang out naked, and even a fast boil on my largest high hob seems to take forever. A lower setting lets me s@#t, shower and shave while the water comes up, and from a time-efficiency perspective, it takes *less* time than doing the tasks seriatim.
On my hobs, the above applies more with smaller quantities of water than larger ones. A MedLo setting will boil water in a 1.5Q saucepan easily enough, but a 14L stocker of cold water might take all day reach a boil at that setting. My 10-Imperial Gallon stocker barely reaches boiling, even on High, and it takes a loooooooooooooong time.
But if you're already in the kitchen, clothed and focused on the other cooking tasks at hand, I say let her rip.
if i had gas i might pay attention more to the manufacturers specifications, but i have a stupid glass top that takes forever to change temperature, so i go full blast pretty much all the time and just take my pans off the heat if i need them to cool at all, unless i am trying to simmer or cook low temperature for a long time, then i'll use a lower temperature.
I mostly sear meat/cook fish or sautee items for pasta sauce or wilt greens so i like a nice hot pan anyways. I am not too concerned with my pots, half the set is my mom's 30 year old pots that have seen more abuse then i can provide, and the other half are stainless steel so will handle the heat well enough.
Boiling water i definitely go full tilt though.
"I assume this is primarily because high quality cookware conducts heat directly to he food very well. "
I honestly think it has more to do with you not damaging the cookware and asking for a refund. A straight aluminum pot probably conduct heat better than most cookware out there, and yet people who use straight aluminum cookware often use high setting.
"Does anyone bring water to a boil at anything lower than the highest temp they have? "
According to your chart, sometime I would use "6" (based on your definition).
It makes no sense to boil water on less than high. That is what I use, and I can't imagine that most metal pans can't handle the High setting on a domestic range or cooktop. However, I don't use the High setting for much else. I've learned to use the med setting for almost everything else, unless the recipe specifies Medium High. But I've also learned that my cooktop apparently runs hot.
I don't know anything about a Simplex Kettle. Is the vessel glass? In that case you should follow mfg. directions.
I received an induction burner for Christmas (arrived prior and since it's an electrical device tried it out) and boiled water in a stock pot on it and our glass top electric. The induction was 7 minutes faster to a rolling boil. The problem I see with trying to go lower heat is time and evaporation. Many stove and cookware manuals make the exception with boiling water.
I can see a kettle taking much less time and for most the cooking process is complete when the water boils. Stock pots and other vessels may require that the boiling continue for a period of time.
If you use the same pot set on high, once filled with water and let it boil and once to cook something else you will find that the water filled pot doesn't get close to the temperatures you would see if you cooked something else for the same amount of time. I don't recommend trying this because you may end up ruining the pot in addition to the food.