The holidays are in full swing and that means you will likely be doing a lot of baking and cooking. You may be surprised to find out that the quality of the water in your home can drastically effect the taste of the food you are making, however.
Many homes in the United States have hard water which contains hard minerals such as calcium and magnesium. While this can impact how water tastes when you drink it, it also can make your food taste and look different. For example, boiling or blanching vegetables in hard water may cause them to become tougher and even cause them to lose color. It also can cause rice to be tougher.
Cooking experts tell us that hard water requires additional cooking times because hard water takes longer to boil. This is because hard water actually increases the boiling point of water.
Hard water can also take its toll on people who are looking to create the perfect dessert. The minerals that are dissolved in hard water can change the structure of gluten. They also can affect how certain ingredients react. Yeast is one of those ingredients. Hard water can make dough more rubbery or even cause it to become tough. Hard water makes it harder for flour to absorb water, slowing down the process of fermentation and causing it to tighten up. Hard water also means your water will be more alkaline which influences the performance of yeast.
Hard water also alters the flavor of the things you drink. That includes everything from tap water to lemonade to coffee and tea. Remember, when brewing coffee or tea, for example, there are very few ingredients – with water being the largest. Hard water is less solvent so the flavor of the coffee or tea is hard to extract when using it. That makes it necessary to use more coffee grounds or tea leaves to avoid a weaker or less flavorful drink.
The water you use in your kitchen can make a tremendous difference in the taste and texture of your food. It also will play a part in how long it takes to make certain foods and drinks. Many cooks believe that it is only the ingredients and seasonings they use that determines how the food they prepare tastes. The biggest factor, however, often comes down to the type of water they are using. So keep in mind that if your food doesn’t taste right, it might not have anything to do with your recipe or cooking technique but rather problems with water in your kitchen.