Chef's Corner

How can hard water affect cooking?

What’s the best way to cook when your water is high in minerals? Water can be a critical part of creating delicious meals, and as chefs, it is important to understand how its quality can affect the flavor and texture of food. Poor water quality can cause unpleasant flavors, discolored food, and even foodborne illness.

To begin, the overall quality of water used to cook food will determine the flavor and texture of the finished dish. Hard water, for example, is high in minerals such as calcium and magnesium, which can alter the taste and texture of food. Hard water can also leave behind a film or residue on dishes and cookware, leading to a stale or metallic taste. In addition, sulfured or highly chlorinated water can have a strong, unpleasant odor or taste, which can affect the flavor of food. This can have an especially noticeable impact when cooking delicate foods like lobster, salmon, and other fish.

Amana Commercial AMSO35 Steamer Oven with rice, lobster tails, and broccoli

If you're worried about the quality of your water, a good option is to use a microwave steamer. Microwave steamers cook so quickly and efficiently that the natural moisture in food is converted to steam. As an added benefit—microwave steaming retains nutrients better than traditional steaming methods. According to a recent study by Harvard Medical School, “The cooking method that best retains nutrients is one that cooks quickly, heats food for the shortest amount of time, and uses as little liquid as possible.” Adding liquid is optional with microwave steaming. Depending on the recipe, using stock or wine can assist with added moisture to enhance flavors even more. You can be sure that the food you're cooking is safe, nutrient-rich and that it will taste great.

When choosing a steamer, consider one without the need for plumbing or vent hood. This will save you thousands of dollars annually on plumbing, ventilation, and maintenance costs. A microwave steamer that has no waterline or need for venting is an ideal way to maximize flavor and food quality when the local water has strong mineral profiles.

Ready to try cooking without worrying about how your water will change the taste of your food? ACP has a few ovens to consider depending on your menu, ranging from 1200 watts to 3500 watts of cooking power. For large batch steaming of rice, vegetables, and fish, the AMSO35 is a powerful solution, ideal for restaurants, healthcare, commissaries, and cafeterias. Contact us to find out how the AMSO specialty oven can simplify steaming for your operation.

Publishing, Harvard Health. “Microwave Cooking and Nutrition.” Harvard Health, 8/17/2021, www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/microwave-cooking-and-nutrition.