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Double Boilers: What they are, and how they're used!

A double boiler is one of those pieces of kitchen equipment that always seems to crop up around the holiday seasons, and generally there is little information included on how a newcomer is even supposed to begin. They are quite simple to use, and you can accomplish the same task with a metal mixing bowl and a pan, should you not own a double boiler.

Basically, a double boiler is two pots; a larger pot that water simmers in, and a shallower pot that sits above (not in) the water of the larger pot. General use for a double boiler is to cook delicate ingredients that tend to separate or seize over direct heat, such as when tempering chocolate or keeping a gravy warm.

You'll want to fill the larger pot with 1-3 inches of water (depending on size) and set the smaller pot on top; the smaller pan should never touch the metal of the larger pot, or even sit in the water, as a Double Boiler heats by steam, not direct heat or boiling. As the water in the larger pot simmers (you do not want a boil unless your recipe calls for one) the steam heats the smaller pan and slowly heats your dish. You will want to check the bottom pan every 15-30 minutes to make sure that the water hasn't boiled off, and add more water if needed.

Owning a double boiler is handy if you do a lot of cooking that requires one; if you only need one occasionally you can accomplish the same task by placing a metal mixing bowl over a sauce pan of simmering water. Take care that the bottom of the mixing bowl doesn't touch the water in the sauce pan.
Posted on July 1st, 2017
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