Good Food Blog
Food mythsPosted at 11:30AM, 14 September 2010 by Carol Wilson - Food writer
We're all familiar with enduring food lore. For years I unfailingly salted aubergines, pricked sausages and cut a cross in the base of Brussels sprouts before cooking - then I read Harold McGee's excellent books and realised that these rules were based on nothing more than old-fashioned traditions that had become written in stone.
These rules are based on nothing more than old-fashioned traditions that have become written in stone
So the next time I prepared aubergines I didn't bother to salt them (to draw out the bitter juices) so didn't need to rinse and drain them. After cooking they tasted just fine - not a trace of bitterness. In fact today's commercially cultivated aubergines are not as bitter as they used to be years ago.
A few decades ago when cheap sausages were plentiful, it was necessary to prick them to avoid them bursting in the pan. With today's quality sausages made with natural skins, you should never prick them, as it causes all the flavoursome juices to ooze out.
Likewise with Brussels sprouts. I cooked them as usual, but without cutting a cross in the base and they turned out the same - without the faff of incising a cross in each one. It seems the practice was based on thinking that it would cause the inside of the sprouts to cook faster, before the outer leaves fell apart.
Another myth that's hung around for years is that leaving the avocado stone in a bowl of guacamole will prevent the guacamole from turning brown. I've tried this a few times and it's never worked for me. The guacamole still became an unappetising brown. The best way to keep the bright green colour is to add a little lemon juice and cover the surface of the guacamole directly with clingfilm, as it's the reaction with air that makes it brown.
Another old chestnut is that pasta should be rinsed after cooking. Not only is there no need to do this, but also rinsing pasta washes away the starch - and this is needed if the sauce is to cling to the pasta. The only time I rinse pasta is if I'm going to serve it cold in a pasta salad.
Any more time-honoured culinary myths out there ?