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Various Food Heating Processes and Cooking Methods Explained

Today, each home can enjoy top-notch, newer appliances that help household chefs cook exquisite dishes for family and friends. With modern life being fast-paced, the taste of our home-cooked meals is being compromised. In the case of a convection oven, you'll be sure to have quick, tasty meals that look perfect. 
In these times, ovens are much more practical and do more than heat production. Modern technology has provided features compatible with various types of food and this makes meal preparation much easier. Cooking is an art form. It takes practice to understand the different characteristics of each type of food and know how to develop flavor with a multi-purpose oven. This type of oven has to bake, cook, roast, grill, and do all of these jobs flawlessly.

Heat

Heating means exchanging thermal energy between two items. In the case of cooking, heat transfer refers to heating your food items through a cooking appliance, like a range, fryer, microwave, or oven
It's natural for the heat to move from hot surfaces to cooler surfaces. This movement of heat is called heat transfer. Heat has three methods of transfer: conduction, convection, and radiation.
When it comes to cooking food it's always performed with a combination of these three methods.
The quality of a cooked meal is determined by the cooking method chosen. The chosen cooking method can also effect the flavor, texture, color and nutrients.
When it comes to the time the food needs to be cooked, it's mostly determined by the factors such as size and shape, the quality of the food item, amount, whether it contains bone, and how well done you like your food.

Conduction

This cooking method is all about the conductivity of materials or air that's in contact with the food. Conduction transfers heat by using direct contact with either liquid or surrounded by air. The best example of this method is a cooked egg. As the water becomes hot, the outside of the egg heats, then the heat penetrates deeper into the egg all the way to the yolk until it's done. Interestingly, copper cookware seems to be the best conductor of heat, while water or stainless steel cookware do not conduct heat that efficiently.

Convection

The greatest advantage of this cooking method is movement. Convection occurs by the movement of air, liquid, or steam around the food. This cooking method transfers the heat much faster than conduction. A good example of convection is making soup on the burner. As the pan heats up, the heat is transferred to the bottom of the pan. The movement of liquid starts to heat, and the cold portions combine much faster. This causes the liquid and the other ingredients to heat up more quickly.
Convection mostly refers to ovens. This cooking method occurs thanks to the air circulation in the oven, and it's caused mechanically by the fan that helps its circulation. It's proven that convection cooking reduces cooking time by 25 percent in comparison to the other cooking methods. As a result, you'll be getting food cooked much more thoroughly and well done as the heat is concentrated on its surface.


Radiation

This cooking method is what microwaves are known for. Cooking by using radiation heat transfer happens when microwaves or infrared energy that produces heat waves are spread into the food. These waves bump into the molecules of fat and water from the food as they penetrate into it, causing them to vibrate. The consequence of this vibration is friction, and it provides the heat that serves to cook food. However, this kind of cooking method has limitations: the larger the food, the more uneven the microwave penetration. This limitation is best shown in the case of defrosting food in the microwave.

What Are the Effects of Heat On Food? 

When food is being heated, it causes changes in color, texture, flavor, shape, and most importantly its nutrients as it may affect carbohydrates, protein, fats, or water. For this reason, you should carefully select the cooking method based on what it is you're cooking, and the desired outcome. Being selective in this way will allow for cooked quality food.


Processes

Evaporation 

Any organic matter contains water, and therefore, foods do, too. Once the water from food reaches 212°F, it will turn into steam and evaporate. If the food is cooked for too long, the high heat causes excessive evaporation of the moisture and it will make the food too dry.

Coagulation 

During cooking, proteins change from semisolid to a solid state, and this coagulation happens as a result of heating or a change in pH. If you take cooking an egg white as an example, you will see that between 160° and  185°F this semisolid state becomes solid  When it comes to milk, if vinegar or lemon juice is poured into it, due to the change in pH the milk protein will coagulate into lumps. In the case of meat, when cooked too long, its proteins will lose moisture and the meat will become too dry. 
These undesired changes may be avoided by convection cooking as the air circulation will help distribute heat more evenly and will save the nutrients.

Gelatinization

When liquid thickens, it's the result of the gelatinization process. When heated, starch gelatinizes in the presence of water. Its granules absorb the water and will swell and burst when heated which will leak starch into the liquid.

Caramelization

This process is also called browning and it occurs when combined sugar and proteins become exposed to higher heating.  Caramelization occurs with both natural and added sugars. However, if the heat is too high for too long the food may become dark and have burned flavor.
If you’re looking to enhance your kitchen to make the most out of your cooking skills, please take a look at our wide selection of ranges for sale at Townappliance.com. If you have any questions on finding your desired model, please let us know, and we’ll help you find a model suitable for any cooking method.