Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Spoon To Prevent Pots From Boiling Over




I'm sure we've all seen the pin on how a simple wooden kitchen spoon, when placed over a pot, will prevent it from boiling over. Unfortunately it's not true. I made a video demonstrating and explaining why that doesn't work, as well as showing a few methods that do.

So why doesn't this work? Simple. Starch. If you place a pot of water on the stove, crank it up to high and walk away, its not going to boil over. It will boil dry (and possibly ruin your pan) but it won't boil over. What causes pots to boil over is what you're cooking in them, usually high starch foods like pasta. A spoon isn't enough to break the sticky, starchy bubbles that form, and it still allows it to boil over. Images showing this working are likely done by bringing the pot to a lower, more gentle boil, rather than a full, rolling boil, so the chances of the pot actually reaching the point of boiling over are much lower.

So what are the two best methods to prevent this? Use a large stock pot (filling it no more than half way with water) or simply turn the heat down to a medium to medium-high heat. What you're looking for is a gentle boil, just the top of the water moving, not forming large bubbles. It's enough to cook the food, but without forming starchy bubbles. Another method involves a kitchen gadget such as a silcone lid, which allows the foamy mess to collect on top with out pouring all over your cook-top. I personally love mine, but it's not a necessary to prevent pasta from boiling over.

9 comments:

  1. Anonymous2/2/15

    The one time this is true, is when microwaving liquids. Placing a wooden / plastic spoon in the container reduces the likelihood of "hyperboiling", which is what causes liquids to "explode" out when removed.

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    Replies
    1. very true! It's often a good idea to stick something like a chopstick in a container if you're using a microwave to boil or heat up liquids that may reach the boiling temperature. Wiki here explain the science behind it - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superheating

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  2. Using a wooden spoon actually does work to prevent a boil-over, I do it all the time while making macaroni and cheese. It is very effective for me.

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  3. Anonymous25/4/15

    I think it may depend on what you are boiling- when I boil noodles this works very well! The starchy bubbles from the noodle water pop when they come in contact with the wood spoon, keeping the foaming down enough to not spill over.

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  4. Anonymous8/5/15

    This works. My sister uses this method all the time. Maybe it depends on what's in the pot.

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  5. Anonymous6/9/15

    Works for me as well.

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  6. What works really well for me is putting about a teaspoon of olive oil into the pasta water when you add the pasta. The oil doesn't add many calories since you drain it off with the water. It works for the same reason a pat of butter keeps homemade jam from frothing.

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  7. I've lived in apartments where I've had both electric and gas stoves. In my experience with each, electric stoves get hotter, quicker, and are harder to control the heat setting. I had boil-overs ALL the time on my electric stove, and the spoon method didn't work...CeCe is correct, the only way to prevent boil-overs on an electric stove, is to turn down the heat. Also, keep in mind...the surface area of the pot being heated by an electric stove is much bigger than the surface area of a pot being heated by a smaller gas burner...which mainly hits the middle bottom of the pot. The pot's entire bottom is covered by the electric element in an electric stove. I use the wooden spoon method with my gas stove, and it only works if I have my burner set precisely...if it's too high, it's going to go over, regardless.

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  8. I've lived in apartments where I've had both electric and gas stoves. In my experience with each, electric stoves get hotter, quicker, and are harder to control the heat setting. I had boil-overs ALL the time on my electric stove, and the spoon method didn't work...CeCe is correct, the only way to prevent boil-overs on an electric stove, is to turn down the heat. Also, keep in mind...the surface area of the pot being heated by an electric stove is much bigger than the surface area of a pot being heated by a smaller gas burner...which mainly hits the middle bottom of the pot. The pot's entire bottom is covered by the electric element in an electric stove. I use the wooden spoon method with my gas stove, and it only works if I have my burner set precisely...if it's too high, it's going to go over, regardless.

    ReplyDelete