Thursday, December 19, 2013

Cooking Myths and the Holidays

By Hassim Seedat 

With the holidays quickly approaching, the ideas and preparations begin. Everything needs to be done in a short period of time. You need to find gifts then wrap them, decide on a menu for the big holiday days and invite people to the dinner. With all this preparation time and menu decision making, there are a lot of cooking myths that circle this time of year. I thought that I would take some time to find out what the popular cooking myths are for this time of year.

Myth 1: Do not put hot food directly into the fridge. It has been said that you need to cool down the food (that you've placed into containers) before you put it in the fridge because it can spoil the food. This is not true. The hot food placed into the fridge has no effect on its health qualities. It does make your fridge work a bit harder to lower the temperature, though, but it has no harmful effects.

Myth 2: Dried herbs are as good as fresh herbs. The reality is that even though dried herbs are more convenient and last longer, they are not fresh and therefore not better than the real deal. Fresh herbs contain all their natural nutritional properties and the flavour is more prominent. Dried herbs have lost much of its natural flavour.

Myth 3: The oven temperature is always accurate. This is not true. While many ovens have a temperature knob to help you to find a certain degree Celsius, household oven temperatures are not always reliable. They can be up 50 degrees off. It is worth investing in an oven thermometer if the temperature of your oven has a big role to play in your baking activities.

Myth 4: Adding cooking oil to the water will prevent the pasta from sticking. This is false. We all learnt in school that oil and water don't mix. So why would the   sunflower oil suddenly mix with the water and coat the pasta. The only way to prevent the pasta from sticking is to give it stir.

Myth 5: Using a marinade helps to tenderise meat. This is not really true. The marinade will add flavour to the meat but it has no true effect on the texture of the meat. Using salt can aid tenderising the meat. The salt absorbs the water and this loosens up the protein fibres thus making it easier to chew.

With the holidays almost at hand, I hope that these debunked myths will help you to better plan your holiday menu.

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