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Busting the Most Common Kitchen Myths

Busting the Most Common Kitchen Myths

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You won’t be fooled much longer, because we’re telling you the truth behind some of the oldest kitchen fables


You may be working under false pretenses in the kitchen.

Do you do something religiously in the kitchen just because your mother told you to? Salting the pasta water to make it boil faster, storing coffee in the freezer to extend its life span, or searing a steak for juicier meat are all tips we’ve picked up over the years for how to be a better cook, but the truth is that some of these tips are actually just myths.

Click here to see 9 Kitchen Myths Busted

Enter Angela McKeller, award-winning recipe writer and author of Gluten-Free Made Easy as 1, 2, 3: Essentials for Living a Gluten-Free Life, whose years of experience in the kitchen have taught her what to believe and what not to believe. McKeller has some surprising facts about certain rules that we’ve been living by in the kitchen, and she walks us through the most common ones and spells out the truth behind them.

Think you’re destroying your mushrooms when you give them a quick rinse under the faucet? Think again. Want to know the truth behind adding marbles to milk or heavy cream? We’ll tell you. Some of the most well-known kitchen myths may not be as truthful as you’ve been led to believe, and McKeller puts all of your doubts to rest. We hope you join us in our myth-busting brigade.

Anne Dolce is the Cook editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @anniecdolce

Food myths busted by America's Test Kitchen: marinating, basting, and boiling

The staff at America’s Test Kitchen prides itself on testing all their recipes dozens of times, tweaking them every which way possible to achieve perfection. In the process, they’ve come across many ironclad rules of the kitchen that have turned out to be not so ironclad after all. Doc Willoughby is editorial director for magazines at America’s Test Kitchen. He collected some of his favorite myths they’ve busted over the years and shared them with Splendid Table host Francis Lam. One of the myths is about marinades and whether they work or not. After hearing his argument, try the America’s Test Kitchen recipe for Grilled Shrimp Skewers with Three Finishing Sauces: Spicy Lemon Garlic, Charmoula, and Fresh Tomato with Feta and Olives.

Francis Lam: Your team kindly sent along a list of the greatest hits of your myth-busting career at America's Test Kitchen. Before we talk about it, shall we prepare to be shocked or mildly surprised?

Doc Willoughby: I would say mildly surprised for most of them and possibly shocked by one.

FL: Which culinary myth are you most proud of slaying?

DW: The myth that marinating actually does anything.

DW: This is a myth that is hard to slay. It's kind of like the myth that searing seals juices in meat, which was discredited back about 1989, but most people still believe it. Marinating is one we've just started to discredit a few years ago, so we have our work ahead of us.

John "Doc" Willoughby Photo: America's Test Kitchen

FL: Tell me more, because I do not believe you. I love to marinate. I don't do it all the time, because I'm lazy.

DW: This is the best thing – when we're not believed – because, of course, we back everything up with science. Years ago, we started feeling like marinating doesn't seem do much, particularly when you're doing chicken or meat – which are the things people marinate most often. We decided to do an experiment. We took boneless skinless chicken breasts in four different marinades: soy, yogurt, red wine, and lemon and garlic. We left them in there for 18 hours. After that time, the marinade had penetrated less than between 1-3 millimeters, which is less than a tenth of an inch, and that's after 18 hours. We took the chicken breasts, shaved off the amount the marinade had gone in – the outer three milliliters – and roasted them along with other chicken breasts that had not been marinated. We had people taste them. No one could taste any difference at all.

FL: Wait, what?

DW: It was a blind tasting with a large panel of 30 testers. The only way you could taste any difference was if you tasted one that had not had that little tiny bit shaved off. Even then there was only a faint difference. Again, this was after 18 hours in marinade.

FL: That’s a long time.

DW: It's a long time and no one wants to marinate anything that long. All marinating does is put a tiny bit of flavor on the outside part of whatever it is you're marinating. The other thing people say is that marinating tenderizes things. If you use acid – or the other thing people often use is papaya juice – theoretically, it will tenderize the meat, but only to the same depth as those marinades penetrated. All it does is make the outside mushy. No matter how long you marinate, you're only going to get mushy exterior and a tiny bit of flavor on the outside. It’s much better to skip marinating. Instead, cook the food and then put the flavor on it afterwards.

FL: Like sauce it. But what about a brine?

DW: Brining actually works. And here are the exceptions to my myth-busting.

FL: I knew it!

DW: Brine will carry salt into the interior of whatever you're brining at a different rate depending on what it is. The salt does season whatever you're brining and also makes it stay moister when you cook it. There are two items that are water soluble that you might have in your marinade: onion and garlic. If you have a marinade with onion and garlic, some of that flavor will get further into the meat. But all the spices, herbs, and most of the things that you want to add flavor, they're all fat soluble and don't penetrate meat or fowl. If you're marinating something like tofu, it has a very loose structure, so the marinade will penetrate the tofu. However, if you're marinating meat or chicken, you're not going to get much difference. If you put a lot of salt or soy sauce in your marinade, you will get a seasoned piece of meat or fish, but it won't have any additional flavor.

FL: I'm still having trouble digesting this. I'm not sure I entirely buy it, but I'll buy that we have some common ground where I can accept that the brine, salt and soy sauce work. What is another myth that you have busted?

DW: Here's another one that people have been doing forever on faith that it works. That is, when you roast a turkey or chicken, if you baste it, it will end up moister and juicier because you've been basting it. That seemed like one of those things that, while it's homey and fun to do, maybe it doesn't work.

FL: It’s fun. Everyone loves it.

DW: But does it work? We took three chickens and three turkeys. One set we basted every 20 minutes, the second set we just roasted without doing anything, and the third we didn't baste, but we opened the oven door and closed it every 20 minutes. When they were done, we measured the moisture loss in all three of them to see if any of them had stayed more moist. As it turns out – no. Moisture loss was virtually identical in all three. What happened was, it took 10 percent longer to cook the bird that we didn't baste but opened and closed the door it took about 16 percent longer to cook the one that we basted. Because what you're doing when you baste is you are cooling down the surface of the bird. As it turns out, that doesn't keep it moister, it just makes it take longer to cook.

However, the one thing basting did do? It gave you a darker skin. If you don't mind cooking a little longer, and you know you're not going to get anything moister, you will get a better-looking skin by basting.

FL: I don't have any emotional attachment to basting, so you can tell me anything you want to tell me about it and that's fine.

DW: But you're still not believing the marinating?

FL: I'm still not buying the marinating.

DW: You have to do this for yourself at home, and then you'll believe it.

The next one is something that I'm very happy about. I love my grandmother and she was a great cook. But she always used to do things that I didn't think worked, and she insisted they did. One of them was, whenever she boiled corn, she put sugar in the water. She insisted this made the corn not only cook faster, but taste sweeter. When we were working on our boiled corn recipe – yes, we actually do have a recipe for boiled corn – we decided to figure out if this was correct. We took corn and we put it in water with blue dye the chemicals in this dye approximate about the same structure as salt or sugar. We decided to see how long it would take the blue dye to get into the entire ear of corn. Guess how long it took?

FL: Well, you don't want to boil corn for more than…

FL: A few minutes?

DW: It took two hours.

FL: Oh, come on!

DW: The reason for this is that kernels of corn are not permeable they're semi-impermeable. For the salt and sugar to get into the kernels. where you could taste them, it has to soak through the cob, saturate the cob and then go into the kernels. My grandma, despite her skill at cooking, was wrong about this.

FL: There is one more on this list. The myth is, "Exactly how you whisk makes no difference." And this is not a myth. [laughs] This is not a thing that people tell one another.

DW: This is the great myth of whisking! This is what happens when you have 42 test cooks in a kitchen, they're all doing something, and they want to figure out who's doing it the best and most efficient way. People have different ways of whisking – some do it in side to side, some do it in a circular motion, and some beat it, which is that looping thing where the whisk comes out and goes back into the liquid.

FL: That’s how I do it.

DW: You’re doing it the wrong way.

FL: You're killing me!

DW: We took these three methods and had a bunch of different people: left handers, right handers, people with small hands and big hands, all the variables. We had them emulsify vinaigrettes, whip small amounts of cream, and whip small amounts of egg whites. The worst one – the one that lost every one – was circular stirring. It took twice as long to whip cream and egg whites as in another manner, and the dressing never got fully emulsified.

The winner was side to side: this back and forth motion, never taking the whisk out of the liquid. The reason is that when you do that, it sets up what's called shear force. You’re going one way in the liquid and then you're going back, but some of the liquid is still coming the direction you were going before and runs into the other liquid. That’s shear force, and that makes everything mix faster.

All that said, beating is the way you do it. When you bring it out of the mixture and back in, that is the best for egg whites. It was very poor for emulsifying or for whipping cream, but it was best for egg whites. Otherwise, use the back and forth motion.

FL: Very cool.

DW: Aren't you glad I busted that myth for you?

FL: That you invented that myth to bust it? Yeah, that's great. Plus, a chef once told me you have to do figure eights in the bowl, which I could never do.

DW: That might even be best! We will have to add that to our next round of testing.

Shrimp: Myths vs. Facts

Are you shrimp lover but not sure if the shellfish is the smartest seafood choice? It's time to dispel the biggest myths about these tiny (and tasty) crustaceans.

Fact: Shrimp are a wonderfully lean source of protein. Three ounces of cooked shrimp contain 18 grams of protein for less than 90 calories.

Myth: You can't eat shrimp if you're watching your cholesterol.

Fact: Three ounces of cooked shrimp have 166 milligrams of cholesterol, or slightly more than half of the daily recommendation. But shrimp contain very little saturated fat, the type of fat that wreaks havoc on blood cholesterol levels. There's also some research to support the idea that the type of cholesterol found in shrimp may have some favorable benefits on cholesterol levels.

Fact: They may not rank up there with salmon (which comes in at 1,000+ milligrams) but 3 ounces of cooked shrimp pack in 300 milligrams of Omega-3 fats.

Fact: According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program, varieties of shrimp like Tiger and White Shrimp are "Best Choices" in terms of quality, safety and sustainability. (See a complete list of safe shrimp options.)

Myth: You have to defrost frozen shrimp overnight.

Fact: Some cool running water is all you need for quick defrosting. Place shrimp in a colander and turn on the sink those babies will be ready to cook in minutes.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana's full bio »

Tea: Facts vs. Myths

I've heard it all when it comes to tea and oftentimes what's said just isn't true. Here's the real truth when it comes to one of the most popular drinks in the world.

Myth: Herbal teas are true teas

True teas including black, green, white and oolong come from the camellia sinesis plant. Herbal teas are made by steeping fresh or dried flowers, herb, seeds, roots or plant barks in hot water. The so-called "teas" are really called tisanes.

Fact: Green tea has caffeine

Green tea has about 35 milligrams per cup. Iced green tea also contains caffeine — about 15 milligrams per 16 fluid ounces. If you're an avid green tea consumer, be careful—the caffeine can add up quickly.

Myth: Decaffeinated tea is caffeine free

Decaffeinated teas do contain some caffeine, about 2 to 10 milligrams per cup. If you’re looking to go caffeine free, herbal teas are your best bet. If you do go for the caffeinated stuff, keep in mind that the amount of caffeine differs from tea to tea: Black tea has around 60 milligrams of caffeine per 8 ounces, about double that of green tea.

Fact: Tea can help you meet your daily fluid needs

Many folks believe that tea doesn’t contribute to your daily fluid needs. Studies show that caffeinated drinks don’t have a negative effect on your hydration status. However, caffeinated beverages can cause you to lose some fluid so consume them in moderation.

Myth: Herbal tea is safe during pregnancy

Many women avoid regular tea during pregnancy and turn to herbal teas instead -- but they aren’t all necessarily safe. Some herbal teas contain ingredients that either haven’t been fully researched or may have a negative effect on the fetus. Speak to a registered dietitian or doctor before consuming herbal tea when you're expecting.

Fact: Adding a spritz of citrus to tea is healthy

Tea contains natural plant compounds called flavonoids, which have been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease. To maximize the power of flavonoids, it’s best to drink freshly brewed tea. Brew a fresh batch and add a spritz of lemon or orange juice in order to help preserve the flavonoids.

Myth: Drinking green tea will burn fat

Unfortunately, green tea has been hyped up as a magic weight loss solution. This myth’s comes from the fact that green tea contains a stimulant which does speed up metabolism—but only a small amount. If you think sipping on cups of green tea or popping supplements is the answer, be careful. Green tea does contain caffeine, which can be dangerous if you have a heart condition. In addition, green tea supplements can react with other medications.

Fact: Tea is more than for sipping

Cooking with tea has become very trendy. Besides making a fantastic green tea smoothie, tea can be used to poach fish and to cook grains like bulgur and wheat berries.

Myth: Tea doesn’t have an expiration date

If you’ve got bags of tea sitting around for years, it's time to toss them. The shelf life of tea is about 6 months. Over time, the powerful flavonoids found in tea are reduced. To get the most out of your tea, store it in a cool, dark place.

8 Taco Bell&rsquos Seasoned Beef Is Only 35 Percent Meat

A few years back, a rumor arose saying only 35 percent (or another disturbingly small percentage) of Taco Bell seasoned beef is meat, the meat is Grade D, it&rsquos unfit for humans, and it&rsquos somehow still allowed to be sold to massive numbers of people. The rumor&rsquos roots go to an Alabama lawsuit, which was thrown out of court because it was complete and utter nonsense.

To address the rumors, Taco Bell explained that their seasoned beef is 88 percent beef and 12 percent filler, which may sound less than ideal, but that&rsquos comparable to its competitors&rsquo recipes. The website containing this explanation also gave fun explanations for some of the more obscure components, such as &ldquoTrehalose,&rdquo which they use for sweetening purposes.

Certain paranoid people will continue to fear Taco Bell&rsquos chemical ingredients like &ldquomaltodextrin,&rdquo but actual chemists laugh off these worries&mdashthe ingredients are all very much safe and edible.

Shaker is the most stylistically versatile cabinet design. Thanks to its simple frame and panel structure, these cabinets਋lend in with਎ither a traditional or a contemporary look. The style originates from the Shaker religious group that fled to the American colonies in the 1780s the group became known for their simple, utilitarian, and smart design, including the famous peg rail.

Shaker cabinets are made from a five panel door, which is made up of a four-piece frame with a flat panel in the center. These cabinets are traditionally made from high-quality American wood, but it now fairly common to see them painted in pretty much any color under the sun. For a more modern look, some homeowners will paint the upper cabinets one਌olor, then use a different paint or wood stain for the lowers.

If you think dietitians eat perfectly all the time, think again. Registered dietitian, Sandy Wolner, juggles a busy schedule, negotiates with picky eaters at home, and at the end of the day, just wants something chocolate. People often ask her what they should be eating and what she eats at home. It was tough to [&hellip]

Watch how high-quality cinnamon, vanilla, butter, and a little apple juice turn a yellow box cake mix into a beautiful, tiered apple spice cake. In this episode of “In the Kitchen With Pampered Chef,” Test Kitchen expert Stephanie Michel shares how she improves a boxed cake mix. From swapping ingredients and choosing high-quality ingredients to [&hellip]

7. You can skip searing meat for stew.

Most stew recipes call for you to brown the meat before adding any other ingredients, but not all at-home chefs understand why this step is so important.

If you’ve ever been told to skip this step, forget that advice—it actually adds a ton of flavor to the dish that you can’t try to fake by adding other ingredients.

“Not only does it add flavor to sear before, if you don’t, then you’ll have steamed chunks that will not be appetizing,” says Zito.

Busting the myth that wood cutting boards are less sanitary than plastic cutting boards. Turns out wood is safer

Both wood and plastic cutting boards are safe to use if properly cleaned.

Hinterhaus Productions /Getty Images

I&rsquove sliced, diced and chopped through more than my share of ingredients over the past decade as a food writer &mdash and my cutting boards bear an ugly witness to that.

As a new year exercise over the past week I&rsquove been taking stock of my kitchen tools and came to a somewhat horrific realization: I&rsquove been using the same half-dozen or so cutting boards for pretty much the last 10 years. And more of them than I&rsquod like to admit are gnarled with deep scars and stains. And if your kitchen is anything like mine, you probably have a board or two well past its prime as well.

So why does that matter? Well, they simply aren&rsquot safe to use from a sanitation perspective.

There&rsquos a good bit of science on cutting board safety and sanitation &mdash and a few persistent myths as well. Most notable is the wood-versus-plastic debate.

Common knowledge holds plastic to be safer than wood. Wood boards generally can&rsquot go in the dishwasher without getting damaged (a warped bamboo board I just tossed in the trash is testament to that). And that means they can be harder to sanitize than plastic boards without the benefit of the dishwasher&rsquos high heat.

Wood cutting boards, even those scarred with many knife cuts, have been found to contain less bacteria than plastic boards when properly washed.

But an oft-cited study from University of California, Davis researcher Dean Cliver found wood to have some sanitation advantages. In the test, both wood and plastic cutting boards were doused with bacteria including E. coli and salmonella &mdash common food-born bugs that, in the worst cases, can both lead to a fatal illness.

But Cliver&rsquos study showed wood cutting boards &mdash even older ones with oodles of deep knife cuts &mdash had less bacteria present after washing in hot, soapy water with a sponge.

If your cutting board has deep gashes and cuts like this, it’s time to replace it.

University of North Carolina food safety researcher Ben Chapman said that&rsquos because &ldquohardwoods, like maple, are fine-grained, and the capillary action of those grains pulls down fluid, trapping the bacteria &mdash which are killed off as the board dries after cleaning.&rdquo

Cliver&rsquos study found plastic boards with a patchwork of bacteria-trapping grooves (like mine) are nigh impossible to scrub completely clean by hand. And while a hot dishwasher can sanitize them, there&rsquos no guarantee that will get all of the bits of food out of those gashes.

If you don&rsquot have a dishwasher and want to make absolutely certain your plastic cutting boards are clean, or you&rsquore working with a wooden board, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has a solution. Wash the board as normal then stirring a tablespoon of liquid chlorine bleach into a gallon of water and dousing the surface of the board. After that bleach water has sat on the board for a couple minutes, rinse it off with water and let it air dry or pat it dry with a towel.

If your cutting board has deep gashes and cuts like this, it’s time to replace it.

Myth 3: If You Don't Soak Overnight, You Should at Least Quick-Soak

Man, people are just really attached to this soaking idea. If it's not an overnight soak, it's the so-called quick soak: a method where you cover beans in water, bring them to a boil, turn off the heat, and then let the beans sit in the water for an hour. We tried this method, and although the cooking time didn't vary much (the quick-soaked beans cooked just 5 minutes faster than the overnight soaked ones and 15 minutes faster than the no-soak beans), the flavor was our favorite of the bunch.

The Food Lab's Top 6 Food Myths

More tests, more results! Follow The Food Lab on Facebook or Twitter.

The Food Lab's all about clearing up culinary misinformation separating the old wives' tales from the old wives that keep telling them.

So here are the six most common and egregious food myths I commonly encounter, and the truth behind them. You can use this information to either improve your cooking, or to sound like a pompous windbag at your next cocktail party.

1. Moist Cooking Methods Give you Moister Results Than Dry Cooking Methods

It makes sense, right? Cook meat in a moist environment (braise it, boil it, simmer it, steam it), and you'll end up with meat that's moisture if you cook it in a dry environment (roast, saute, grill, barbecue, broil, or fry). Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. The amount of moisture that a piece of meat retains is pretty much only related to the temperature it is cooked to. Basically, under a microscope, a hunk of meat looks like a bunch of liquid-filled straws bound together into bundles. The straws are filled to capacity with liquid when the meat is raw. As it cooks, the walls of those straws contract, squeezing liquid out of them—whether or not they are in a moist or dry environment.

It's easiest to think of it as squeezing out a tube of toothpaste. Whether you do it in the air or under water, just as much toothpaste gets squeezed out. You can boil a steak until it's dry just as easily as you can roast it until it's dry*.

What does help keep moist, on the other hand, is brining. Soaking raw meat in a salt water solution fundamentally changes the shape of its proteins, allowing them to retain more moisture than they're able to naturally. Of course, the tradeoff is that the extra liquid in the meat also somewhat dilutes its flavor.

*Even easier, in fact, since the water in a boiling pot has a much higher specific heat capacity than the air in a hot oven does.

2. Frying at a Higher Temperature Prevents Food From Absorbing Oil

Next to myth number 4 below, this is probably the most widely circulated food myth from home cooks and great chefs alike, and it's easy to see why. There's no denying that frying food at a low temperature—say below 300°F or so—leads to greasy end results, and that upping the temp to 350°F or above will infinitely improve your food's crispness. But does "greasy-tasting" necessarily equate to "more grease"?

The common explanation is that when you put food in hot oil, the pressure exerted by the bubbles of water vapor rapidly leaving the food prevents the oil from entering the food. And it seems to make sense. But the thing is, the vast majority of the oil that gets absorbed into fried foods happens not while it's inside the hot oil, but within the first few seconds after it is removed from the oil.

If you look at a French fry under a microscope, here what's happening. While it's being fried, the water inside the food is rapidly expanding and converting to steam. Much of this water escapes, leaving small, steam-filled cavities in the food. As soon as the food is removed from the oil, it rapidly drops in temperature. The steam inside condenses back into water, leaving large vacuum-filled holes in its structure. What comes in to fill those holes? The only thing that can: the oil on the surface of the food.

In fact, the amount of oil that a piece of food absorbs is directly proportional to the temperature it is cooked at.

So the sensation of greasiness you get when eating poorly fried food? It's the combination of oil and the moisture left on or near the surface of the food that causes that. Well-fried food should be nearly water-free on its surface, giving it a cleaner, less greasy mouthfeel.

3. When Grilling, It's Best to Flip Just Once in the Middle

Common backyard know-how dictates that burgers and steaks should only be flipped once, half way through cooking. But has anyone ever bothered questioning why we do this? Does it actually create a noticeable improvement in the way your meat comes out?

Turns out the answer is an emphatic no! Flipping your meat multiple times produces meat that's noticeably more evenly cooked (there's about 40% less overcooked meat in a burger flipped every 15 seconds vs. one flipped once), browns just as well (just don't expect distinct hash marks), and to top it all off, ends up cooking in about 2/3rds of the time. Faster and better? You betcha!

Moral of the story: if you see your buddy doing that multiple flip thing, don't get on their case. They're doing good.

4. Searing "Locks In" Juices

This is the oldest one in the book, and still gets repeated—by many highly respected cookbook authors and chefs!—to this day. It's been conclusively proven false many times, including in our own post on How to Cook a Perfect Prime Rib, where we found that when roasting a standing roast, it in fact lost 1.68% more juice if it was seared before roasting rather than after! The same is true for pork roasts, steaks, hamburgers, chicken cutlets, you name it.

On the other hand, searing does improve flavor by catalyzing the Maillard browning reactions, a series of chemical reactions that rapidly take place when proteins and sugars are heated to around 300°F or so, improving the flavor and texture of the dish. But in almost all cases, it's better to sear the food after it's roasted, not at the start.

5. Pasta Must Be Cooked in Massive Amounts of Boiling Water

Well, this one is actually true, but only if you are dealing with really fresh (as in you rolled it yourself) pasta. With dried pasta, as long as the pasta is completely covered in water, it'll cook just fine. People cite the fact that a large pot of water will lose less heat than a small pot of water when you add pasta to it, but this is in fact not true. There is a difference between heat (energy) and temperature (a value based on how much energy a given amount of a given substance holds).

So, it's indeed true that a large pot of water will show a smaller decrease in temperature than a small pot of water, but the amount of energy needed to bring that water back up to a boil when you add the pasta to it is exactly the same, no matter how much water you have. In fact, because a small pot loses less energy to the outside environment because of its smaller surface area, it will actually return to a boil faster than a large pot of water will.

Moreover, you don't even need to keep the water all that hot. Cover your pasta with boiling water, bring it back to a boil, put a lid on it, and remove it from the heat. It'll cook just as fast and evenly as a pot that's kept at a rolling boil for the entire duration of cooking, plus it'll shave a few pennies off your gas bill!

6. Salting Beans During Cooking Will Make Them Tough

Most of us have been told at some point in our culinary careers that salting beans will cause them to toughen. It's incredible that this little bit of culinary mis-wisdom still lingers, for it couldn't be further from the truth. A simple side-by-side test can prove to you conclusively that salting beans (both the water used to soak them in and the water used to cook them) actually tenderizes the skins.

It's got to do with magnesium and calcium, two ions found in the bean skins that help keep the structure of the beans' skin intact. When you soak the beans in salt water, sodium ions end up replacing some of the magnesium and calcium, effectively softening the skins. Your beans come out creamier, better seasoned, and have a much smaller likelihood of exploding while cooking.

Got a suggestion for an upcoming topic? Email Kenji here, and he'll do his best to answer your queries in a future post. Become a fan of The Food Lab on Facebook or Twitter for play-by-plays on future kitchen tests and recipe experiments.


  1. Akinot

    I apologize, but I need something completely different. Who else can say what?

  2. Cynegils

    Should you tell, that you are not right.

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