Simmer vs. Boil: What’s the Difference?

Fresh Pasta and Ravioli TutorialWe have all heard or read the terms in recipes about simmering versus boiling a mixture or water. This often occurs when making custard recipes or melting chocolate to prepare the water for use in a double boiler.

But, the terms can be confusing. What exactly is meant by them? Here is a list and description of the most commonly used terms in recipes:

Bare simmer: when a couple of small bubbles break through the surface every 2 to 3 seconds in different spots. 

Simmer: when pockets of fine but constant bubbles appear on the surface break, and give off occasional wisps of steam. 

Vigorous simmer/gentle boil: when more constant small bubbles break on the surface, with frequent wisps of steam, coupled with larger bubbles beginning to rise. 

Boil: when large bubbles come from the bottom of the pot and quickly rise to the surface and burst, releasing constant steam.
SARAH SAYS: At sea level, the boiling point is 212 degrees F (100 degrees C); at high altitudes, liquid boils at lower temperatures.

Rolling boil: when large bubbles audibly erupt continuously on the surface of the liquid releasing clouds of steam. The process is not disrupted by stirring or adding ingredients.

 

Simmering vs. Boiling Conclusion

As you can see, simmering and boiling are both important, but there are specific times where both can be used for best results when baking. Simmering is when pockets of fine but constant bubbles appear on the surface break, and give off occasional wisps of steam. Boiling is when large bubbles come from the bottom of the pot and quickly rise to the surface and burst, releasing constant steam. Now that you know the meaning of both simmering and boiling, the next recipe that calls for a simmer or boil should be a piece of cake.

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