The Difference Between Poaching, Simmering And Boiling

Poaching, simmering and boiling may seem like basic skills, but they are essential to techniques for any cook to master. Whether you are cooking with chocolate to make a fondue or poaching a simple egg, you will want to understand the difference between each cooking method.

According to What’s Cooking America, poaching is cooking an item by submerging it in a liquid that is just barely simmering.To poach a food item, gently place it in a pot of simmering water that is heated between 160 and 180 degrees. Poaching is a technique typically used for delicate foods including eggs, fish and fruits. In order to poach food effectively, it must be completely submerged in water.

Simmering requires the temperature of the liquid to be between 185 to 200 degrees. You will typically see small bubbles start to form in the liquid, but not enough to be considered a boil. Fine Cooking explains there are three different types of simmer:

1. Fine simmer – A fine simmer is defined by a scarce amount of small bubbles rising to the surface of the water every two to three seconds.
2. Simmer – A simmer is identified by small but constant bubbles rising to the surface of the water.
3. Vigorous simmer – A vigorous simmer occurs when more constant bubbles rise to the surface giving off frequent wisps of steam.

One challenge cooks may face when simmering a liquid is maintaining the simmer. Throughout the cooking process, make sure to lower and increase heat as needed to maintain a constant temperature. Another way to maintain a simmer is to move the pot to one side of the flame.

Boiling requires liquid temperature to reach 212 degrees. You will know your broth, water or sauce is boiling because you will see large, frequent bubbles rising to the surface along with constant steam. Similar to simmering, there is more than one type of boil:

1. Boil – A boil is indicated by large bubbles forming in the pot and rising to the surface, producing constant steam.
2. Rolling boil – A rolling boil occurs when large bubbles erupt continuously on the surface of the liquid. These large bubbles maintain themselves even when they are stirred or food is added. A rolling boil can be easily identified by the distinct sound produced from the liquid. Pastas and blanched vegetables often call for water to be heated to a rolling boil.

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