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rapid simmer

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I have been reading the different sites on simmer,and read from one site that said a simmer is a simmer,nothing else.Not boiling ,but with little bubbles. If this is true then why do recipes have rapid simmer,medium simmer? Is there different simmers? I found when look up simmer,first bring to a boil than down to simmer......simmer just bubbles ,but nothing on rapid simmer,medium simmer,or even gentle simmer. only recipes that they say the above.

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  1. Yes, there are degrees of everything.

    1. Yes, I'm afraid it is confusing. Leave it to man to make something, that should be easy, difficult.

      In my opinion, simmer is a range of temperatures just below boiling (180 - 205°F).

      If you want to get really fancy, you can use a temperature probe to measure (I even have one of those scanning thermometers).

      Just between me and you. Let's agree to set some temperatures to simmer:

      Low or gentle simmer 180 - 190°F Occasional bubble appears on the edges.

      Simmer or Medium simmer 190 - 200°F Bubbles on the edge are pretty regular

      Rapid simmer 200 - 205°F Lots of bubbles on the edges and some in the middle.

      Unfortunately, you and I agreeing on this standard is in no way binding on all those other cooks out there.

      1. It's sometimes difficult to visually evaluate change of state in liquids as they are heating, especially when trying to explain it using the top down method. But I think Hank has one of the better descriptions I've read for explaining the stages incrementally. Any simmer is somewhere between a full boil (212 degrees) and any lesser temperature where thermal activity in a liquid is clearly visible in the form of bubbles. IMO, using terms like slow, rapid or medium simmer is utterly ridiculous. That degree of precision in food preparation is entirely unnecessary. Probably some obsessive compulsive recipe writer.

        1. Is there something with your simmering that you haven't been able to get right yet? It appears to be tripping you up. Which dishes have you tackled so far? If they turned out ok, you probably simmered just fine.

          1. Do you ever watch America's Test Kitchen on TV? I disagree with their notion that there is a perfect recipe, but they demonstrate what they recommend very well.

            Another option is to take a cooking class if there's one near you.

            1. the problem i am having is just like the one respond from todao......that is what i have been reading and told rapid simmer,medium simmer is ridiculous only one type of simmer,and ignore the others watch the pot if its bubbles around edges it a SIMMER. THAT is THE ONLY TYPE OF SIMMER U HAVE TO KNOW! But read recipes and they mention rapid simmer,etc.... and thats why I ask. One said only a simmer and others are ridiculous..... Beginning to wonder is there something i am missing for understanding simmering? Only bec. of the information i found. One says only one type of simmer and others say rapid,medium simmer etc... Now do u understand why i am confused

              1 Reply
              1. re: walnut

                I would go with what Hank said and really I haven't given it much thought over the years and everything seems to come out alright. I think it is something you get a feel for more than following an exact recipe and the terms are very subjective. Split pea soup or gravy I keep very low, other things can be a little hotter. On one particular website, there is more to it than just defining a simmer. It is more about that there are differences in appliances and no one range can be all things to all people but there are a few who won't accept that their range might not go low enough for some users so to them you don't need anything less than 210 degrees.

              2. rapid simmer to you sounds like a low boil to me.
                There is not set meaning of low boil or rapid simmer.
                I've seen recipes that mention a low boil.
                I guess it's all in the context of the recipe and what the author meant.

                1. While there is some difference in temperature between a boil and simmer, the big difference is in how much the liquid is 'stirred' by the formation and rise of bubbles. A rapid boil really stirs up the water. A slow simmer, hardly at all. At boil you are pouring in a lot of heat, and loosing a lot by evaporation. At simmer, this evaporation is slower. The variations that you are worrying about fall in some sort of continuum between these extremes.

                  Experienced cooks choose things like the temperature and degree of boil by feel, not by set rule or recipe. If the recipe from some big name chef says something like 'rapid simmer', it is likely that those words originate with his ghost writer, who is observing the chef in action.