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when something says boil.......does that mean where u get it to rapid boiling stage or can it be not at the rapid stage? I have seen where they say to have it to a rolling boil or rapid boil like for pasta etc... but if it just says boil is this also to the rapid or rolling stage? Does boil mean full rapid boil?

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  1. Roiling boil or a less vigorous boil depends upon what you're cooking.
    As long as there are many bubble breaking the surface you are fine since water boils at 212F.

    Pasta can take the roiling boil without falling apart, but cut potatoes will probably disintegrate a lot faster at such a hard boil.

    1. Technically there are 2 issues - the temperature of the water, and how vigorously it is bubbling/being stirred.

      The recipe might not be clear as to which really matters. The authors themselves might not even be aware of the issue. Sometimes the recipe wants water that is as hot as possible, but without the turbulence of boiling. Some view the turbulence as a good thing, helping to stir things up, and in the case of pasta, keeping strands separate. But others argue that pasta will cook just as well in water that is below boiling.

      Things are complicated by the fact that depending on your altitude, boiling might not be 212F.

      Use your own powers of observation.

      1. http://www.cookeryonline.com/Topics/M...

        This looks like good coverage of the topic. I think I'll go back and read it myself.

        1. maybe i am having a bad day but at that web site that first line boiling.........either at or at the boiling point what does( either at) mean,....sorry dont get that?. never mind ....i got it . Yes this is a good site. But doesnt say anything about what i asked....boil ,some places indicate it is a rapid boil and others just say bring to a boil

          1 Reply
          1. re: walnut

            If the recipe calls for bringing the water to a boil it simply means the water temperature should reach 212 degrees. If it says to maintain a boil, it means the water temperature should be maintained at that 212 degree mark. Otherwise, if it doesn't say "rapid" boil, there's no need to maintain a nigh heat level with a vigorously bubbling cauldron on top of your stove.
            Temperature for most cooking adventures using boiling water is less critical than it might be for recipes that include sugar (e.g. candy) where the stage of the mixture determines the texture of the final product. Rule of thumb: if it doesn't say "rapid" boil, keep the water hot enough so that you can see it moving about (bubbles in the water) in the pan. but don't crank the heat up unnecessarily.

          2. For standard things like pasta and potatoes, if you keep it at a rolling boil odds are it will boil over at some point.

              1. Water, at atmospheric pressure (this is assuming you are at ground level) boils at 212 F and except in unusual circumstances you can't have liquid water above this temperature. So whether it's a slow or a rapid boil, the water and whatever it's cooking are the same temperature, 212 F -- the difference is how fast the water's evaporating (each bubble is, of course, some of the water leaving the pot) and the turbulence of the liquid.

                So it doesn't usually really matter -- use whatever seems appropriate to what you're doing. If it's something delicate, use a really slow boil -- it's still the same temperature, so it'll still cook the same. If it's pasta, the turbulence helps the strands not stick.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Exy00

                  The pot is not homogenous. There's a temperature gradient in the water. The water is at or close to 212F at the bottom, but less close at the surface. In a more rapid boil, more of the water is closer to the boiling point (which is going to be elevated slightly due to the addition of things like salt).

                  1. re: FoodPopulist

                    The difference is minuscule, though, especially since if it's boiling at all it's turbulent enough that it mixes quickly. And the effect of boiling point elevation from things like dissolved salt is too small to bother accounting for. I worked it out as an example -- two tablespoons of table salt in a gallon of water would increase the boiling point by just under 0.6 K. Which is a small enough difference to be lost among all the other variables.