5 Historic Cooking Techniques Still Used Today

AAlex October 18, 2023 11:46 AM

Human culinary practices have evolved over centuries, leading to a rich tapestry of cooking techniques. Surprisingly, many of these ancient methods are still in use today, standing the test of time with their distinctive flavors and techniques. Here, we delve into five of these historic cooking techniques that you can still find in modern kitchens.

Fermentation

Fermentation is one of the oldest cooking techniques that people have used for preserving food. This method involves the conversion of carbohydrates into alcohol or organic acids using yeasts or bacteria. It's used in making a wide array of foods and drinks, from wine and beer to pickles and sauerkraut. Fermentation also plays a key role in bread making, where yeast ferments the sugars in the dough, causing it to rise. Fermentation not only extends the shelf life of products but also adds a unique tangy taste.

Smoking

Smoking was initially used as a preservation technique. Meat and fish were exposed to smoke, which has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, helping to prevent spoilage. Today, smoking is used less for preservation and more for the distinctive flavor it imparts to food. From smoked salmon to barbeque ribs, the smoky taste is a perennial favorite.

Sous Vide

The sous vide method is a little newer compared to the others on this list, originating in the 1970s. However, it has roots in ancient cooking techniques. Essentially, it involves cooking food at a precise temperature, usually in a water bath, to achieve optimal results. This method ensures the food is evenly cooked without losing its moisture and flavors.

Braising

Braising is an ancient cooking method that involves slow-cooking food in a small amount of liquid, usually a mixture of water and alcohol or vinegar. This technique tenderizes the food and infuses it with the flavor of the cooking liquid. It's commonly used for cooking meats and vegetables and is particularly popular for preparing hearty winter meals.

Stone cooking

Stone cooking, or cooking on a hot stone, is a historic cooking technique that dates back to prehistoric times. It's still used in many cultures around the world, including in parts of Africa, Asia, and the Pacific Islands. The heat from the stone sears the food, sealing in the juices and flavor.

Here's a summary of these techniques:

Technique Basic Method Common Uses
Fermentation Conversion of carbohydrates into alcohol or organic acids. Wine, beer, pickles, bread.
Smoking Exposing food to smoke from burning or smoldering material. Meat, fish.
Sous Vide Cooking food at a precise temperature in a water bath. Meat, vegetables, eggs.
Braising Slow-cooking food in a small amount of liquid. Meat, vegetables.
Stone cooking Cooking food on a hot stone. Meat, vegetables.

While these techniques have been around for ages, they continue to be widely used because they produce unique and delicious results. Each of these methods has deeply influenced the way we cook today, proving that sometimes, classic methods are truly timeless.

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