Now, granted cooking is a lot of things beyond just science. In the introduction to his new book, Keys to Good Cooking, food scientist Harold McGee writes “Cooking can be one of the most satisfying things we do in life. It’s a chance to make things with our own hands, nourish and give pleasure to people we care about, and choose exactly what we eat and make a part of ourselves.” But underlying it all, McGee has shown time and again that an understanding of kitchen science can make you a better cook.
In Keys to Good Cooking, McGee has taken years of kitchen research and observations and compiled a substantial manual on the basic facts of food preparation, covering pantry ingredients, tools, heat and basic cooking methods and kitchen safety tips. Consider these tips on vegetables which intrigued me:
- Fresh vegetables and herbs are alive and breathing and should look like it. The best-quality fresh vegetables are the most recently harvested and most carefully handled.
- At farmers’ markets, avoid vegetables and herbs that have been sitting in full sun and are hot to the touch.
- Choose packages of frozen vegetables from the coldest corners of the market freezer and just before you check out.
- Avoid potatoes with any green color. Green surfaces and sprouts contain bitter and toxic alkaloids.
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