Cooking Myths

It’s safe to say that not many people are great chefs ready to conquer the culinary world.

Even if you’re not a restaurant owner with a few Michelin stars, you probably know a thing or two about cooking. As it turns out, some of the things you know are nothing more than myths.

Everyone knows the “5-Second Rule” – if food drops on the floor and is picked up within five seconds, it’s still safe to eat. Well, not quite.

In reality, bacteria can contaminate food within milliseconds of contact. While it might not be a myth that many believe at this point, some still seem quite real.

In this article, we will go through 9 of the most common cooking myths that many believe are true and take some inspiration from a specific tv show and bust those myths up to tinny pieces.

1. Bread becomes stale because it loses moisture

The sandwich is one of the most amazing things created by man. And bread is the essential ingredient to create a good sandwich.

Bread has the power to keep all those tasty ingredients together, and this is why the most undesirable scenario ever is to come home and find that your bread has gone stale, probably because all the moisture has evaporated from it. Right?

Well, not exactly. Just the opposite has happened. Your bread has sucked in even more moisture from the air, which caused the starch inside to crystallise.

What can you do?

Well, fresh bread is FRESH food. There’s not much you can do to keep it with the consistency of a fluffy cloud. On the other hand, older bread makes for excellent toast, so there’s at least that.

If you want to keep bread fresh for longer, it’s generally recommended to store it at room temperature in a bread box, paper bag, or airtight container.

2. Searing keeps moisture inside the meat

When you sear meat, you apply high heat to the surface, causing the Maillard reaction to occur.

This reaction results in the browning and caramelising of the proteins and sugars on the meat’s surface, creating delicious flavours and aromas. The seared crust can indeed add depth and complexity to the overall taste of the meat.

However, searing does not create a physical barrier that prevents the juices from escaping.

In fact, when you sear meat, some moisture can be lost due to the high heat, causing the meat to shrink slightly. The searing process can create tiny openings in the meat’s surface, allowing juices to escape during cooking.

Proper cooking techniques, like resting the meat after cooking or using the correct temperature, play a more significant role in ensuring moist and flavorful results.

3. Adding oil to pasta water prevents sticking

Adding oil to pasta water prevents sticking

Many people add oil to boiling pasta water to prevent the noodles from sticking together. However, the oil floats on top of the water and doesn’t effectively coat the pasta.

Instead, stirring the pasta occasionally during cooking and using an ample amount of water is a more effective way to prevent sticking.

Speaking of pasta, it’s also believed that adding salt to water will make it take longer to boil. In reality, salt actually increases the boiling point of water, causing it to reach a higher temperature faster.

Please be careful not to oversalt your spaghetti.

4. Raw vegetables are always healthier than cooked ones

While raw vegetables can be nutritious, cooking certain vegetables enhances their nutritional value.

For example, cooking tomatoes increases the availability of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. Some vegetables, like spinach and carrots, also release more nutrients when cooked.

5. Frozen fruits and vegetables are less nutritious

While we’re still on the topic of vegetables, frozen fruits, and vegetables are often considered less healthy than fresh produce.

However, frozen options are typically picked at their peak ripeness and frozen quickly, preserving their nutrients.

In some cases, frozen produce can even have higher nutrient levels than fresh produce that has been stored for a long time.

6. Washing chicken removes bacteria

Washing chicken removes bacteria

It’s believed that washing raw chicken under water removes bacteria and makes it safe to consume.

However, washing chicken can actually spread bacteria around the kitchen through water splatter, increasing the risk of cross-contamination. Cooking chicken to the appropriate internal temperature is the best way to kill any harmful bacteria.

7. Alcohol evaporates when you cook with it

Some dishes taste great only because they were prepared with alcohol. That’s how you know it’s high-end stuff. But there’s no way you’re getting drunk from that.

After all, the alcohol gets cooked off or simply evaporates, right?

Yes, most of the alcohol can evaporate. That is if you cook the meal for up to three hours. In other words, think about this the next time you feed your kids penne with vodka sauce or Chicken Marsala.

Keep track of dishes prepared with alcohol, especially when you are on some prescription drugs.

8. The microwave oven destroys the food

Since you are a little hungover because of last night’s penne, you don’t feel like cooking, so you just shove a frozen pizza in the fridge. Then you remember that long ago somebody told you that the microwave annihilates all nutrients in your food.

Well, you pressed the start button anyway, so…

But we have good news for you. Your microwave oven doesn’t hate the nutrients in your food and, in fact, preserves most of them. Or at least it preserves more than a regular oven does.

Still, there are some meals you can’t cook in a microwave, so don’t rage-throw away your kitchen cooker.

9. Opening the oven door while baking causes the food to collapse

Opening the oven door while baking causes the food to collapse

It’s a common belief that opening the oven door while baking causes the food to collapse or not rise properly.

In reality, opening the oven door briefly to check on the food’s progress or rotating the pans usually doesn’t have a significant impact on the final result.

However, it’s best to minimise oven door openings to maintain a consistent temperature and avoid heat loss.

During some of the openings of the door, have you noticed that it may need a bit of cleaning?

In case you don’t have the time to deal with cooking and cleaning, you can always turn to professionals for help. Believe it or not, oven cleaning services can make your appliance look as good as new while enhancing its performance.

Final thoughts

It’s funny how myths have a sneaky way of creeping into our culinary knowledge. With a bit of research, you can find out how many of these myths don’t even make sense.

If nothing else, now you have something to correct your friends about. So the next time you hear someone claims that adding oil to pasta water prevents sticking or that searing meat keeps the juices locked inside, you can confidently correct them with the facts.

Cooking is a wonderful blend of art and science, and by debunking these myths, we can become better chefs in our kitchens. Or at least in our own minds.

About The Author:

Stacey Smith is a freelance health writer. She is passionate to write about women’s health, dental health, diabetes, endocrinology, and nutrition and provides in-depth features on the latest in health news for medical clinics and health magazines.

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