How does latent heat affect cooking?

1 Answer

If you cook in a normal pot, when the temperature reaches the temperature of 100°C the heat will used both to cook and to make the water vaporize. So there is a loss of energy.

If you use pressure cooker, only a small part of water can vaporize, because the empty space of the pot reaches the status of statured steam very soon. At higher pressure, the boiling point is raised allowing you to cook at a higher temperature.

Cooking food in an open pot of water keeps the temperature below the boiling point of water. This allows food to cook more slowly.

When deep frying, the latent heat in the water in the food keeps the interior from heating up quickly and boiling away in a flash. Instead, water vapor surrounds the outside of the food and allows it to cook more slowly. The layer of water vapor also keeps the oil out of the food. In this way, the food does not get oily. However, if the oil is not hot enough, the vapor layer does not form and the food can get soggy with oil.

There are some other tricks with food like the dessert called a Baked Alaska. It's cake on the outside and ice cream in the center. The cake layer is cooked in an oven with the ice cream in the middle. Due to the latent heat of the frozen ice cream, it takes a lot of energy to melt. But before enough heat can reach the ice cream, the outside layer gets cooked and the dish is removed from the oven.