How to Boil Water

25 Oct

I know some people who really, truly have the ability to burn water. It’s something. I also know people who don’t know how to boil water. (They’re Italian twenty-something boys whose Italian mothers not only did all their laundry for them, cleaned for them, and bought all their clothes for them, but also cooked for them–every day of their lives.)

Boiling water is a seriously underrated skill. These days, you could do just fine in the kitchen (and your wallet would appreciate you that much more than if you got takeout every day) if only you knew how to prepare dehydrated food. Seriously. Head down to the convenience store around the corner and pick up a packet of just-add-water pasta (at Spar, for example, you could get fettuccine alfredo,  pasta primavera, spaghetti bolognese, and pasta carbonara), and for less than two euro, you can feed two people (or have two meals).

First lesson in cooking: boiling water.

  1. Put water in a (clean) pot. If you’re making pasta, fill your pot to about two inches from the top. If you’re boiling potatoes, cover them with an extra half-inch of water. If you’re making rice, the standard is 2:1 water:rice. If what you’re making requires a specific amount of water, measure it out. If you don’t have a measuring cup,  half a Poland Springs water bottle is a cup of water (8 fluid ounces in a cup).
  2. Place the pot (which now has water in it) on a burner on the stove, and turn the burner on medium-high to high. If you put a cover on the pot it’ll boil faster, but you don’t need one if you don’t have one.
  3. Wait until it boils. What will this look like? Well, first steam will rise off the surface of the water. Little tiny bubbles will form on the bottom. This is not boiling. Those little bubbles will start rising to the surface. This is not boiling. Those little bubbles will start rising more rapidly, and turn into slightly larger bubbles. This is simmering. Patience. Those bubbles will then get larger, stay at that size, and break at the surface in rapid succession.  This is boiling.

Glory, Glory, Hallelujah, you can boil water. Think of all the things you can cook now! (Note: if you let all the water boil away, you will burn the pot. Your food, from then on, will taste like burn metal and Teflon. Don’t do that.)

For you visual learners, a video tutorial:


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