Kitchen Myths

Facts and fiction about food and cooking, by Peter Aitken

Category Archives: Uncategorized

A pressure gauge on your propane tank is useful

Many folks have paid for a pressure gauge on their propane tanks in the mistaken belief that it tells you how much propane is left. Me too, I got one before I figured out that it is useless. How come?

In the tank, the propane is mostly liquid. At the top of the tank, above the liquid propane, is gaseous propane. When you open the valve, some of the propane gas is released, and some of the liquid vaporizes to maintain what physicists call the vapor pressure – the pressure at which liquid and gaseous propane are in equilibrium. As long as there is some liquid propane in the tank, this pressure remains the same (although it does vary with temperature, being higher when the temperature is warmer). Whether 95% full or 5% full, the pressure is the same. Only when there is no more liquid propane in the tank will the pressure shown on your gauge drop. You an tell how much propane is left by weighing the tank, but that’s a bother. You can also tell by feeling the side of the tank when it is in use (when your grill is on). At some place the tank will be colder below, warmer above. That’s the level of the liquid propane. Bottom line? Keep an extra tank on hand.

Kitchen Myths – 2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for Kitchen Myths. Thanks to all my visitors for a successful year!

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 89,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 4 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Heavy cream and whipping cream are the same

I was quite interested to find out that this is not only false, but it is defined by US Government regulations. Whipping cream must contain at least 31% butterfat but no more than 36%, while heavy cream must contain at least 36% butterfat. What does this mean to you, the cook?

When making whipped cream, heavy cream takes longer to whip but lasts longer once prepared (losing its peaks and becoming watery). In contrast, whipping cream whips faster but does not last as long.

A more important difference may be between creams that are pasteurized vs. those that are ultra-pasteurized. Both treatments kill bacteria and extend the shelf life of the cream, but the ultra procedure uses a much higher temperature. The result is cream that lasts longer (in the unopened container) but does not whip as well or taste as good. Look for local, pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized) heavy cream that is free of additives.

Kitchen Myths, the book – now available

KitchenMyths_fc_v5  Now available for Kindle, iPad, Nook, and other devices: the book  version of the Kitchen  Myths  blog.

  • Dozens of new myths
  • Illustrated with the author’s photographs
  • Updated throughout

Purchase from Amazon.com (for Kindle)
Purchase from Barnes and Noble (for Nook)
Purchase from the Apple store (for iPad)

Click for more details

You can keep meat moist by cooking it in a stew or braising it

This seems to make sense—cooking meat in a moist environment would keep it moist, right? Not necessarily. A major determinant of the final moistness of meat is how hot it got during cooking. So, how you stew or braise the meat is really important. Cook at a boil, where the meat may reach over 200 degrees, and it’s likely to be dry. Cook at a gentle simmer, keeping things at 180 degrees or so, and the results will be much better.

Different areas of your tongue are sensitive to different tastes

I remember learning this in high school – the so-called tongue map that claimed that each of the 4 fundamental tastes were “picked up” on different parts of the tongue: bitter in the back, sweet in the front, sour on the sides toward the back, and salt on the sides near the front. This was shown to be false long ago–all areas of the tongue are sensitive to all the tastes.

And yes, there are now believed to be more than 4 basic tastes. A fifth, savory or umami is widely accepted, and some researhers argue for a sixth, piquance.

Kitchen Myths – What’s this Blog all About?

Many widely accepted “truths” about food and cooking are just plain false—in other words, they are kitchen myths. Learn the straight skinny here! See the About page for more information about me, your friendly myth-buster, and this blog.

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