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One should cover a pan while heating?


One should cover a pan while heating?
You've probably heard it before: "Cover your pan, it'll boil faster", but is it true?

Let's find out.
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Last modified on: February 27th 2015

Keywords for this post:LegendsCookingTimeHeatLidCover
One should cover a pan while heating?

The legend

You should always cover a pot of water you want to boil, so that it boils faster.
In other words, if you're heating water (or anything else), boiling is achieved more quickly if the pan is covered than if it's not.

How to check?

Boil 1 liter of water in a covered pan, timing the time, then 1 liter of water in an uncovered pan, again timing the time.
Comparing the times will show whether you really need to cover the pot to go faster.

Let's check:

étape1We measure 1 liter of water and place it in an uncovered saucepan on a hotplate, into which we dip a thermometer.

Room temperature and initial water temperature: 19°C (70°F).

étape1Turn on the stove and start the timer, reaching 100°C (210°F) in 9 minutes and 30 seconds.


The stove is left to cool down for about an hour, returning to room temperature.

étape1Another 1 liter of water is measured and placed in a covered saucepan on the stove, still using a thermometer.



étape1Turn on the stove and start the stopwatch, reaching 100°C (210°F) in 9 minutes and 27 seconds.



étape1The result is even more obvious if you compare the temperature curve, with the uncovered pan in red and the covered pan in green.


Conclusion

The time difference is too small to be significant: covered or uncovered, it's practically the same thing.
Some people have pointed out to me that if we were using a (much) larger volume of water, it wouldn't be the same; the lid would be effective, but in home cooking, we only use small volumes.

To sum up:"You should always cover a pot of water you want to boil, so that it boils faster", is not true.



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  • This is going to be a most interesting addition to your site, jh. Now I wonder if hot water or cold water makes any difference in the boiling time?
    Posted by Louise october 24th 2009 at 17:48 n° 1
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