Boil Over
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Excess heat and the Proteins & Starches in a boiling pot, can cause it to Boil Over in a foaming mess that can quickly become a sticky, burned-on mess if it interacts with your heat source. Products like pasta, which we cover in Lesson 10: Introduction to Pastas, are especially prone to boiling over because they often contain both Protein & Starch.

An excess of either one can cause a Rolling Boil to spill over into a Foaming Boil. The reasons why have to do with a change in the surface tensions of the water and hence the bubbles which cause them to break more slowly and allows new ones to stack on old ones, until a passel of them are over the sides of the pot. Putting a little oil or margarine in the water can counteract the Proteins & Starches and make the bubbles break faster.

But oil or margarine will also make your product more slippery, which won’t help your sauce (if any) adhere to the product. Sliding Sauce off your perfect pasta is considered bad form by some, so be forewarned.

Old chefs’ tales say putting a new, clean wooden spoon in the pot helps, but we’ve seen it fail, and who has a new wooden spoon anyway? There are also some ceramic or glass products sold as Pot Watchers, which we haven’t used.

Our preferred pot watcher, is us, or in your case you. Pay attention and reduce the heat a bit when adding product to a boiling liquid. As the Boiling Chart in Introduction to Cooking Methods: Topic 3: Moist Heat, Exercise 1 illustrates lower heat means fewer & less aggressive bubbles.  You can also stir the liquid to disrupt the bubbling action. Sometimes (depending on the level of heat) just stirring is enough to bring down the foaming bubbles.

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