Foundational Cooking Methods To Know For Delicious From Scratch Meals

Harnessing the power of foundational cooking techniques can give you so much freedom when it comes to creating delicious seasonal meals for your family. Below you will find a short list of foundational cooking techniques to learn or deepen your connection to. There are many cooking techniques to try within dry heat, moist heat, combination or no heat methods. I am sharing some of these base techniques to get you started with from scratch cooking that fit into these different cooking methods. Seasonal eating brings you the best nutrient content and freshest food possible, especially when the food is grown locally with organic practices, picked at it’s prime and prepared soon afterwards. (Two fantastic reasons to grow some of your own food.) When you are confident in your cooking skills, you will gain the freedom to experiment, create new recipes or cook on the fly whatever came in your CSA box. Imagine having the confidence to pickup something new at the farmers market that catches your eye because you have a toolbox of cooking techniques to choose from to make a delicious meal from it!

Dry Heat Methods:

  • Roasting – Usually done with a baking sheet with ample room around each piece of food for proper air circulation. 
  • Grilling/Griddle – A good option for summertime foods, when you don’t want to cook inside the house, but can be done with in house griddles or grills.
  • Sautéing – A good way to quickly cook food and add depth of flavor through oils or sauces used and allowing food to brown nicely. 
  • Stir-frying – Quick and easy way to cook a lot of food together.
  • Sweating – Often used to bring out and enhance flavor, especially with onion.
  • Dehydrating with minimal heat – Using either the sun or a dehydrator set to a low temperature to evaporate the moisture within food. Good for making veggie chips, fruit leathers or activating nuts and seeds.

Moist Heat Methods:

  • Steaming – Popular for its ease and retaining foods color when done properly.
  • Boiling – Perfect for cooking dried beans or lentils, softening potatoes, etc.
  • Simmering – Slower, lower heat and softer form of boiling that can allow sauces, soups, etc to thicken.
  • Poaching – Simmering at an even lower heat and used for delicate foods.

Combination Cooking Utilizing Both Dry Heat and Moist Heat Methods:

  • Pressure cooking – High pressure steam cooking that is generally fast.
  • Stewing – Taking uniformly cut food and cooking it low and slow with a flavorful liquid of choice (broth, sauces, etc.) for a tender, flavor rich end dish.
  • Braising – Like stewing, but it is generally done with less liquid.

No Heat Methods:

  • Dehydrating – Evaporating or extracting moisture from food. 
  • Sprouting – Germinating seeds and using the raw nutrient packed sprouts added to salads, soups(after it’s cooked), etc.
  • Fermenting/culturing – Utilizing bacteria, yeast and other microbes to breakdown/convert sugars.
  • Soaking – Used to activate nuts and seeds, rehydrating freeze dried foods, presoaking beans, etc.
  • Blending and Juicing – Perfect for breaking down fruit and vegetables into a liquid consistency for consumption or adding to other dishes. 

Learning some of these foundational cooking techniques opens up a world of possibility for delicious from scratch meals. These are just some of the techniques I teach in my cooking classes. For more information about my cooking classes look here: Cooking Classes

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