Cooking in high altitude Tips

Cooking in high altitude requires some simple but important adjustments and those that ignore that fact end up spending a fortune in restaurants LOL. Denver high altitude cooking can have results that are worth eating if you follow some simple guidelines.

Well…meat seems to dry out…baked things seem undercooked and gummy…some tips:

Foods such as vegetables and stews cooked with moist heat take much longer to prepare. Hard-boiled eggs require additional time. At 5,000 feet it will take about 25 minutes for eggs to cook.”

Up here, water boils at 198° F, instead of 212° F. When you first hear that water boils faster here, you think, ‘Oh, wow, cooking will be much quicker here because it’s physically boiling sooner.

It doesn’t work like that. It’s weird, and it’s the same idea with sugar. Sugar crystallizes sooner but at a lower temperature. So a lot of things with sugar get over-crystallized and end up being harder. So my mother’s zucchini bread and two cups of sugar would be out of luck here.

Warm your coffee mugs before you pour your coffee in there. When it’s brewed at 198° F, and you pour it into a cold coffee mug, it’s about 150° F by the time you sit down to drink it.

Denver cooking in high altitude means being a little creative…sure you can buy lots of books on the subject but it seems like overkill if you ask me…

I prefer to just tell people to think about temperatures, moisture and in some cases…substitutions.

Want to be a little more technical?

At sea level, the atmosphere is 14.7 pounds per square inch…but at 5000 feet (Denver is 5280 feet) there is only 12.3 pounds per square inch.

What that means is leavening gases expand.
(Oh no….what is a “leavening gas”?)

I will try my best to simplify…
Air becomes incorporated no matter what. All breads use air as a leavening gas.

Steam is produced when most breads are cooked. Hot cooking temperatures cause the liquid to boil and become steam.

Carbon Dioxide is produced by reactions between ingredients. The ingredients that may be used to produce carbon dioxide are baking soda, baking powder, and yeast.

To finish explaining why Denver high altitude cooking is different…

Moisture evaporates faster from foods and boiling happens at lower temperatures..

Or…put another way…it is the opposite of pressure cooking.

Denver cooking in high altitude is pretty basic so don’t stress…putting something in the oven to roast will not require any serious adjustment because meat is very easy…it is either done or it isn’ can tell by looking at it, cutting into it or putting a meat thermometer in it (but always put the thermometer away from the bone).

Boiling does require a little patience however…for people that want to boil…be aware of how much time you actually need. To compensate for the lower boiling point of water, the cooking time must be increased.

In general you will find baking is much more complicated so we will make that a separate section.

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