Boiling and Simmering: Water Convection

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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In boiling and its lower-temperature versions, simmering and poaching, food is heated by the convection currents in hot water. The maximum temperature possible is the boiling point, 212°F/100°C at sea level, which is usually not high enough for these “moist” cooking methods to trigger browning reactions. Despite the relatively low cooking temperature, boiling is a very efficient process. The entire surface of the food is in contact with the cooking medium, and water is dense enough that its molecules constantly collide with the food and rapidly impart their energy to it.