Are You Making These Common Cooking Mistakes?

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Sure, we all make mistakes. But some of us just keep making the same ones over and over again. Cooking requires patience and for the majority of us who don’t have that, things never seem to come out right. Here are the top five errors that you’re probably making:

5 Substitutions

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There is nothing wrong with substitutions.The problem is simply doing the wrong ones. In cooking, it’s less of a problem than in baking. When you’re cooking, the main thing to watch out for is substituting dry herbs for fresh ones. The flavor of dry herbs is a lot more concentrated than the flavor of fresh ones and so if you’re going to do that substitution then you have to cut down the quantity. If you’re baking, it’s even more important to know what you’re doing since the chemistry of baking is a lot more exact. First of all, never make the mistake of thinking that baking soda and baking powder can be used interchangeably. Also, be careful when you’re making efforts to make your baked goods healthier. For example, instead of using only whole-wheat flour, consider using half whole wheat and half white and applesauce can often replace oil but usually it’s best to only substitute half the oil so that whatever your making stays light and fluffy.

4 Boiling Instead of Simmering

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There are a lot of ways to fall into this trap. You could try to rush things, use a flame that’s too big, or just not really know what you’re doing. The difference between simmering and boiling isn’t one that everyone can identify right away. It’s the difference between a small bubble rising to the surface every second or two as opposed to bubbles all over the liquid’s surface constantly. Boiling is not just faster simmering. It can cause the liquid to evaporate and the solids to dry out and burn. Especially if you are cooking meat, it can easily get very tough. Soup can get cloudy, with a heavier taste, assuming the broth doesn’t disappear into the air.

3 Not Preheating

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This can usually also be prevented by reading the recipe through at the beginning. Don’t put your baked goods into the oven if you’ve just turned it on. Before the temperature rises to where you want it, the low heat will already start having an impact. It may cause your cookie dough to melt and spread before it’s actually ready to bake, or make your cake batter rise more than it can handle and then collapse. But this doesn’t just apply to the oven. Also be careful with pans on the stove. If a pan and the oil in it haven’t reached the required heat when you put the food in your food will end up cooked through before it’s managed to brown the way you want it to. It’s likely to be soggy instead of crispy and browned and is much more likely to stick to pan and break up into pieces.

2 Overcrowding the Pan

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This one tends to come up a lot when you’re cooking for more people than usual. You may not have stocked your kitchen with a big enough pan to make green beans for twenty but don’t just put them all into your small pan anyway. When your meat or vegetables are scrunched in together in a pan, steam gets trapped in between the layers so your food ends up soggy instead of crisp and brown. If you can, use two pans. If that’s not an option then you’ll just have to prepare the food in batches. To keep the first batch hot until the next batch is ready, just put it into the oven at a very low heat.

1 Not Reading the Recipe

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We’re not suggesting that you’re ignoring the instructions entirely but you might be doing things sloppily because you’re reading the first step and then starting to cook before you’ve read through to the end. If you’ve already started when you get to steps four, five and six, you may be in for a nasty surprise. You may not have realized that the dough needs to chill for a few hours or that the meat is supposed to marinate overnight. Sometimes you may discover in the middle that you’re missing an ingredient or that one of the ingredients needs to be chopped. While you start slicing, the rest of the dish is burning in the pan. The most common one is to have your butter still cold when it needs to be softened, then you’re tempted to microwave it, then you end up with liquid butter, then your crumble topping needs to be cut with a saw… No, we’re not talking from experience at all, why do you ask?

What other mistakes do you run across all the time? Don’t worry, we won’t tell the chef!

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