27 Mar Basic Cooking Skills Every Mom Needs to Know
Moms are lauded as revered family cooks. They are supposed to make the best spaghetti, the best cookies, the best of whatever your favorite dish was growing up. Yet not all moms are the Martha Stewarts of their own homes. Some of us still struggle with basic skills like how to boil water.
We all have to start somewhere. If you are still struggling in the kitchen, here are a few tips for some basic cooking skills that every mom needs to know:
How to Boil Water
Knowing how to boil water is a basic skill that will help you with cooking a number of dishes. The process is pretty straight forward and easy to learn. Simply fill your pot or pan with water, but be sure to leave enough room at the top once the water begins to boil. This should be about an inch or so — just enough to make sure the water doesn’t boil over the side.
Turn the temperature to high and let the pot be until the water begins to boil. This will take a different amount of time depending on what altitude you are at, how much water is in the pan, the temperature of your stove and other variables. It is a myth that adding water to the water will help it boil faster. In fact, salt raises the boiling temperature, so it will actually make it take longer.
Once the water reaches a full boil — large bubbles on the surface of the water — you can turn down the temperature to low or medium, depending on the next steps in your recipe. Most recipes call for bringing a dish to a boil then letting it simmer. Items like pasta will need to boil until done.
How to Freeze Items
Knowing how to freeze foods requires more than just throwing them in the freezer. Not all foods freeze under the same conditions, and you have to know how to protect foods in the freezer to maintain freshness.
You must freeze foods at the height of their freshness in order to maintain their quality. For produce, this means freezing when they are ripe. For cooked foods, it means freezing right after they have been prepared. The United States Department of Agriculture suggests that a large, hot pot of food like soup or a large cut of meat should be divided into small portions before.While it doesn’t matter if you freeze foods while they are cool or warm, it is worth keeping in mind that placing warm foods in the freezer may have the unintended effect of thawing out other foods resting nearby in the freezer, thereby diminishing their quality.
Store foods in shallow, air-tight containers in small servings. Label containers so that you know what food is inside and when it was stored.
Know Proper Temperatures for Food
The temperatures at which your foods are stored or cooked can have a big impact on your health. If foods are not kept at the proper temperatures, bacteria could be spread, and you could become very ill.
When you are cooking, it is best to use a thermometer to measure the internal temperature of meats. The FDA recommends the following temperatures for meats:
- Chicken and turkey: 165 degrees
- Beef: 145 degrees for steaks, roasts and chops, or 160 degrees for ground mixes
- Pork: 145 degrees
- Fish: 145 degrees
Cooking meats to these temperatures can ensure that harmful bacteria such as E. coli is killed and is not a threat.
It is also important to store foods at the proper temperatures, as well. All foods should be stored in a refrigerator that is 40 degrees or cooler or a freezer that is 0 degrees or cooler. Foods should be thawed in a refrigerator, not on the counter
These are just a few of the basic cooking skills that all moms (and cooks) need to know. Though they are basic skills, they will inform a great number of other activities in the kitchen, helping you to lay a solid foundation for your culinary pursuits.
What other basic cooking skills do you think every mom should know? Share them in the comments!
Bridget Sandorford is a freelance writer and researcher for Culinaryschools.org, where recently she’s been researching culinary schools in texas. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, painting and working on her first cookbook.