Adjusting To Cook Your Meals In Altitude
If you have recently made the move to a higher altitude, you may find that you notice more changes than just a shortness of breath. You will have to make lots of adjustments to your cooking and baking as well.
First of all, make sure that you know exactly what altitude you are living at. Depending on the exact level, you will have to make very particular changes.
This higher altitude means a lower atmospheric air pressure, or lower air density. In communities with an elevation of three thousand feet or more, this lower air pressure has an effect on food preparation and home canning in a couple of different ways.
Liquids tend to evaporate faster, and come to a boil at a lower temperature. This lower boiling point means that liquid needs to be boiled longer to reach the desired temperature.
The lower air pressure causes the leavening agents in breads and cakes to rise faster, which can cause the things you bake to dry out and crack. Most commercial mixes have instructions printed on the side of the box for altitude adjustments.
This may include changing the cooking temperature, and adding or getting rid of something from the recipe. Follow the directions carefully, as they know exactly what will be right for the particular mix you are using.
When it comes to boiling, at sea level, water boils at two hundred and twelve degrees. However, for every one thousand feet of elevation change, the boiling point of water is approximately two degrees lower.
This means that the food is not as hot, and will take a longer cooking time. For people who use home canners to create a food storage, fruits and tomatoes must be processed in a water bath canner for a longer period time.
For every one thousand feet of elevation change, the processing time must be increased by at least one minute. At an elevation of five thousand feet, the processing time must be increased by five minutes for proper canning.
Anything prepared in a pressure cooker canner must also be adjusted for the altitude. For every one thousand feet in elevation, the steam pressure must be increased by a half a pound.
At an elevation of five thousand feet, a canned product requiring ten pounds of pressure at sea level will require twelve and a half pounds of pressure. Keep this in mind when preparing your food storage.
For those who like to make homemade candy, you will find that you have to make lots of changes as well. To prevent too much water evaporation, simply reduce the final cooking temperature by the difference in boiling point at your altitude, and that at sea level.
Bread is affected as well, particularly yeast breads. With less air pressure, yeast breads rise much faster and do not have the time needed to develop that rich flavor.
Punching down the dough twice may help, and reducing the amount of flour slightly to prevent the bread from becoming too dry. Look online for more tips about getting the perfect loaves of bread.
Last, you will need to make some changes when it comes to your cakes. For cakes cooked from scratch, subtle changes will need to be made in the baking powder, shortening, and sugar, with slight increases in the liquid.
Typically, baking powder is reduced by one eighth to one fourth teaspoon, sugar is reduced by one tablespoon per cup, and liquid increased by two to four tablespoons. This will help yoru cakes to remain full, moist, and delicious.
If you do not make these adjustments, you may find that your foods do not come out the way that they used to. You may also put yourself at risk of things like meat being undercooked.
Even a six degree difference in temperature can cause a batch of candy to turn out chewier than you would like. The subtlety in change can make a very big difference.
The last thing you want is to take a long time to prepare a cake and have it rise much too quickly, and then collapse on itself. Take these adjustments into consideration, and be sure to pay attention to any instructions on the back of the box-your recipes can come out just as good as before.
Tom Selwick has worked the past 21 years in the food storage industry. He suggests buyingfood storage from a quality company so you know your food will last.