Cooking Tricks To Avoid Overcooking Your Veggies

You lose taste, texture, and nutrition when you overcook them!

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Vegetables are fantastic ingredients. They give flavor, texture, and nutrition to any dish, so why aren't you treating them right? When you overcook your vegetables, you not only lose their textures and flavors, you can also lose the nutritional content. We have a few tips to help you cook any vegetable just right:

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1 Blanch it, then shock it.

Blanching is a cooking technique that means to quickly submerge food into boiling water or fat (for meats) and then placing it immediately into an ice bath to shock it cold. This will help preserve the color and prevent the vegetables from cooking even more via carryover heat.

How long the vegetable needs to be in the boiling water will depend on the vegetable, so your best gauge of time is the color (should be bright) and texture of the vegetable (still crisp and not tender). Some may need a few seconds (pechay, cabbage, and other leafy greens) or minutes (diced carrots, corn kernels, green beans, and other heartier vegetables) before needing to be pulled from the boiling water to the ice bath.

Don't leave them in the ice water for too long, though, as it might turn them soggy! Drain and dry them when they're cool enough to touch.

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2 Cook hard veggies such as potatoes and carrots separately.

Be mindful of the cooking times of the different veggies you put into your dish. For potatoes for your soup or stew, you run the risk of either not cooking them long enough, or cooking these until it falls apart and becomes a puree. To avoid this and maintain chunky pieces of potato or similar veggies, precook them just until tender and set them aside to add to the pot at a later more appropriate time. 

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Photo by Patrick Martires

3 Add leafy greens last when making soup.

When adding spinach, kangkong, or pechay into a soup or stew, add it last. Cook only until the leaves are wilted. Leaves are really quick to cook!

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4 Cooking time is related to size.

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Are you making a stew that will take hours to make or a quick sauté? If you're cooking for hours, it's best to cut vegetables into sizes that will be a match to the cooking time. Cut vegetables into big chunks so you don't run the risk of these disintegrating while the meat stews. For quicker cooking time as with stir fries, cut these into smaller, thinner pieces so it can cook just as quick as the other ingredients.

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5 Cut vegetables into similar-sized shapes.

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Ever wondered why your stew has such uneven cooking? For example, you add your veggies in but they all come out in different levels of being cooked through. This might be because you have chopped them into different sized pieces. As mentioned before, cooking time is related to size. So, if you want them to cook all at the same time, cut them to the same dimensions.

Now that you have these valuable tips on cooking veggies, it's time to test them out. You'll be shocked at the quality of veggies you can cook from now on!

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