1. Alcohol burns off when cooking and baking
Not completely…Alcohol has a much lower boiling point than water, which is why people think it dissipates when you cook/bake with it – IT DOESN’T. (This is why I always insisted on NOT feeding family members with alcohol issues, my Chicken Marsala.) When you simmer a sauce containing wine or liquor, up to 50 percent (yes 50!) of the alcohol can remain. I have learned (years and years ago) that the percentage also depends on how long it simmers and other factors, like the size of the pan. Even when you bake, the evaporated alcohol has to work its way out of the batter, so even less will “burn off” than in an open pan. Most wines and alcohols are added to cooking/baking for added “flavor” and to help a dish retain moisture. However, an addict can go into a tailspin with just a sliver of rum cake.
2. Veggies lose all their nutrients when boiled
Not necessarily…Yes, vegetables such as green beans, stewed until they are gray beans, may lose many of their nutrients (mostly vitamins, which are water soluble,) but important minerals like iron and potassium do not break down easily in water. All vegetables (overcooked or not) are a good source of fiber. I drop vegetables, such as broccoli, in boiling water for about 2 minutes or so. Then I shock it in ice-cold water for about a minute to lock in that vibrant green color and to stop the cooking time. Your best bet: Steam your vegetables lightly to the desired consistency (careful – you can also over-steam veggies.)
3. Butter spoils if it’s not refrigerated
That’s another myth. Butter can spoil, but much more slowly than fresh (unfermented) milk products, such as, well, milk. The reason is – butter contains added salt, which impedes the growth of spoilage bacteria. Today’s salted butter, in normal usage, will rarely spoil, even if you leave it unrefrigerated all the time. Unsalted butter (labeled sweet butter) might spoil in about a week, but it contains enough natural salt to slow the growth of bacteria that cause spoiling. So you don’t have to worry if you forget to put the butter away after dinner.
4. All good natural foods expire
I know of one that doesn’t – honey. The natural sugar content is so high in liquid honey that it kills almost all bacteria and the moisture content is too low to allow fungus to grow. It can crystallize and become solid and chunky, but you can add water and heat it and it will become edible again. (However, it can still be dangerous for infants to eat.) Honey can actually be a preservative, and scientists found honey in pyramids in Egypt and were amazed because it didn’t expire, even after thousands of years.
5. Salting pasta should be done as soon as it is drained and not beforehand
Wrong – salting the water the pasta is boiled in is a better method for salting pasta. Many Italians say the water you cook your pasta in should be as salty as the Mediterranean. If you salt pasta after you drain it from unsalted water, then the pasta just tastes salty. Please, salt the water – not the pasta. Never, ever rinse the pasta with cold water after it has been drained (the pasta starch will be drained away and you need that starch to hold the sauces and gravies onto the pasta.)
6. Mushrooms should be thoroughly washed before you cook/eat them
Noooooo! Portabella, shitake, button, porcini, chanterelles, and oyster mushrooms are no longer wild – they are cultivated. That means there is less dirt on them when we receive them from our grocery stores. If you wash mushrooms, you will make them soggy. Soggy mushrooms expel brown unappetizing looking liquids to your food. Take a damp (not so wet) paper towel and wipe them clean.
7. Decaffeinated coffee contains caffeine
True – Between 97 and 99 percent of caffeine is eliminated during the decaffeinating process, but up to 3% of caffeine remains. Coffee purists recommend the Swiss Water Process (in which the beans are steamed, and then soaked in hot water until their chemical structure swells) at which point a carbon filter draws out the caffeine. However, some caffeine remains after the beans are dried and roasted. If you drink 6 to 10 cups of decaf coffee a day, or if you are highly sensitive to caffeine, you might feel an effect from those minimal amounts. However, one cup of decaf should leave you sleeping easy.
8. Fresh fruit and vegetables are always better than frozen ones
Frozen vegetables are usually processed within hours of harvest. There is little nutrient loss in the freezing process so frozen vegetables retain their high vitamin and mineral content. In contrast, fresh vegetables are picked and transported to market. It can take days or even weeks before they reach the dinner table and vitamins are gradually lost over time no matter how carefully the vegetables are transported and stored. Many fresh fruits are sent way under-ripe since it can take 10 to 15 days for it to reach the grocery store(I always see those too green bananas and unripe avocados – then I have to put them in a brown-paper bag and wait 3 days to have them.) Frozen is oftentimes better than fresh.
What food facts can you share? Leave a comment and educate us!
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