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Volume III
September 27, 2013

Weekly Home / Cook'n & Eat'n

What you Must know to Cook Your Veggies to Perfection

By Sydney Hill

When I was in a college class, the teacher had has conduct a little vegetized experiment. The point? To get the perfect vegetable. One that was crisp, one that was colorful, tasty, and perfect.

The main key is to boil/simmer them for the right length of time. Not too little, not too much.

Here's the vegetable you're looking for:

  1. tender-crisp texture, not mushy
  2. natural, vibrant color
  3. flavor is correct for that vegetable
  4. keeps as many nutrients possible

You'll need:

  • Vegetables
  • Pan with tight lid
  • Fork
  • Timer
  • Chart (see example below
  • Paper Towel
  • Pen

To Start your experiment, choose a vegetable. I'll choose Broccoli.

  1. Wash vegetable.
  2. Cut vegetable into pieces that are the same size. This way they will cook similarly, too.
  3. Set aside a few pieces so you have a raw sample. You're on your way as a scientist!
  4. Choose a pan that has a lid, and fill with water, enough to just cover the vegetables you'll be putting in.
  5. Bring water to a boil.
  6. Add vegetables to the pan, bring it back to a boil.
  7. Reduce heat to simmer and cover with a tight lid, don't let pan boil dry.
  8. Immediately start timer
  9. Every 5 minutes, Use your fork to take a few samples of your vegetable and let it sit on the paper towel. Label the paper towel so you know how long each sample was cooking.

Now take out a chart (see example below), and fulfill your lifelong dream of being a taste tester. Take a bite of each sample veggie (once it's cool enough to eat) and let the words flow from your pen (now fulfilling you're dream of being an English professor). Use colorful, descriptive words so you can better compare.

Examples of words to use:

Flavor: bitter, strong, bland, intense, salty, sweet, overcooked, aftertaste

Color: bright, neon, grayish, darkening, spotted, translucent, deep, white, less vivid, pale

Texture: tender-crisp, hard-crisp, mushy, tough, stringy, soggy

Here is a sample of the experiment I did with Broccoli:

Vegetable Raw 5 minutes 10 minutes 15 minutes 20 minutes
Broccoli color Pale Vivid green Darkening Dark Really dark
Broccoli flavor Bitter Less bitter Strong Bland/ overcooked aftertaste Flavorless
Broccoli texture Crunchy Crunchy/ moist Mushy Really Soggy Really Soggy

Ding, Ding, Ding, We have a winner! We (the group I was working with) and I decided 5 minutes was the best for Broccoli.

We also found this:

  • Carrots: 5 minutes
  • Potato: 10 minutes
  • Zucchini: 10 minutes

GOOD TO KNOW: if a vegetable gets overcooked, it loses more nutrients.

I encourage you to do your experimenting. How do you like your Broccoli? Or what would cauliflower's perfect time be? I truly believe experimenting is one of the best ways to become a better cook. Try it out to get that perfect vegetable.


Sydney Hill
Weekly Newsletter Contributer since 2012

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