There are some things that you hear so many times that you assume they’re right. You may have learned to cook as a child or teenager. The person who taught you may have told you these things, and you never questioned them. Whichever is the case, these are cooking truths that are actually myths.
Beans must be soaked overnight
It’s summer now, and many cooks are preparing for their annual chili cook-offs, a day when popular opinion determines who makes the best chili in the area. You have all the ingredients for your grandma’s famous chili recipe in the fridge and are ready to go. The night before the contest, you put your dry beans in a pot to soak because everyone knows that beans have to be left in water overnight to cook correctly and get tender. Wrong!
The truth is that you can prepare beans with a “quick soak.” Don’t get too excited! It’s not that quick. You simply put the dry beans in a pot with water and bring the water to a boil. You let them boil for about five minutes and turn off the heat. The quick soak lasts for three hours. When the three hours are up, you cook the beans for the usual amount of time. Altogether, the quick soak takes about four hours as compared to the eight to twelve hours beans soak when left overnight.
Additionally, there are some varieties of beans that are quicker-cookers. In 2016, the American Chemical Society researched twelve types of dry beans with cook times between 20 and 89 minutes. They found that one of the quickest-cooking varieties, the yellow Cebo Cela, was more nutritious than its slower-cooking counterparts. It offered 20% more protein, 10% more iron, and 10% more zinc. So next time you’re in the grocery store, pick up some Cebo Celas!
Red wine should not be chilled
Have you ever invited someone over to dinner and experienced that uncomfortable moment when you pulled a bottle of red wine out of the fridge? You see their eyes rolling and can hear them thinking, “What uncultured idiot keeps the wine in the fridge?” Well, your intolerant dinner guest is right about somethings and wrong about others. Here’s what we know about red wine and the refrigerator:
Red wine should not be stored in a standard refrigerator. This can make the cork dry out and cause the wine to go bad. There are special wine refrigerators that maintain a constant 55 degrees Fahrenheit, but these are meant for enthusiasts. Bottles definitely should not be stored in hot places, which causes wine to cook and lose its flavor. A cool dark place is the best place to keep your wine collection.
When you are ready to crack open a bottle, the optimum temperature is a little cooler than room temperature. Many people place red wine in the fridge for about an hour before they plan to open it to achieve this. You can also put it in the freezer for twenty minutes if you need it sooner. So, don’t store wine in the fridge, but chill it before you drink it.
Boiling Vegetables Makes Them Less Nutritious
Now that’s it’s summer, you’re probably going to be eating some corn on the cob. As you throw it in the pot, keep this in mind:
In 2002 food scientists at Cornell University tested sweet corn for antioxidants and ferulic acid. When they cooked the corn at 115 degrees Fahrenheit for 10, 25, and 50 minutes, both of these substances were released. The longer the corn was boiled, the more it released.
The antioxidants, which were released, help the body because they quench free radicals. Free radicals have been linked to aging, cancer, heart disease, cataracts, and Alzheimer’s. Ferulic acid, which also increased after boiling, has been shown to prevent cancer.
When you’re preparing corn on the cob at home, you probably shouldn’t boil it for 50 minutes, like Cornell’s scientists did. Most recipes recommend between 10 and 15 minutes.
Of course, what’s true of one vegetable isn’t necessarily valid for all vegetables. In 2007, researchers at the University of Warwick decided to test different ways to cook vegetables from the Brassica family. This group of green delights includes broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, and cauliflower. Brassicas contain glucosinolates. This substance becomes isothiocyanates when it is metabolized and can prevent cancer.
Scientists boiled, stir-fried, steamed, and microwaved the vegetables. Afterward, they tested them for glucosinolates. Amazingly, the veggies that were stir-fried, steamed, and microwaved had no loss of the cancer-fighting substance. The boiled vegetables lost nearly all of their glucosinolates. It looks like this myth holds up for some vegetables. So boil your corn, but steam your broccoli.
The Five-Second Rule
This may be a myth, or it may be wishful thinking. You are eating chocolate, and, Oh no! It tumbles from your hand to the ground. As long as you pick it up quickly, it can’t be contaminated, right?
Unfortunately, in 2016, Rutgers researchers found that bacteria can be transferred from one surface to another in less than a second. Food scientists dropped different kinds of food on wood, stainless steel, carpeted, and tiled surfaces. First, they contaminated theses surfaces with bacteria and allowed them to dry completely.
Of all the food dropped, watermelon picked up the most bacteria and gummy candy the least. Foods picked up fewer bacteria on the carpeted surface and the most on tile and stainless steel. In many cases, the transfer of bacteria happened almost instantaneously. So, even if something delicious has fallen, don’t pick it up and eat it.
This summer as you picnics and barbecues with your family, remember what you learned it this article:
1) Chill your red wine for an hour in the fridge before you open it.
2) Use the quick soak method when you make three-bean salad or chili.
3) Boil your sweet corn, but choose an alternative cooking method for your broccoli. Last but not least,
4) if your watermelon falls on the ground, throw it away, and get another piece. Do it for your health.