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.
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.
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.
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.
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.