Wednesday, March 11, 2009

When Water Goes Wild

I keep running into references to cooking liquids all of a sudden. Obviously, recipes that use cooking liquids must mention the cooking liquids.
But no. This is more like when you're in heavy traffic on your way to a show, and you think, "Damn, everybody is going to that show!"
It's on my mind. I'm highly attuned to it. And when I see other references, I think everybody is going to that show.
OK, what do I mean by cooking liquids? Water. Stock. Wine. Sure.
Well, what about saved bean-cooking water?
What about saved pasta-cooking water?
I made a potato soup the other day with saved potato-cooking water.
I thought I was the only one who saves corned beef cooking water, but no. Ruhlman recommends it.
And on the blogs, I keep reading about the irresistible goozly liquid that accumulates at the bottom of a braised dish. The leftover nectar from, well, just about anything.
I remember accidentally throwing out the juices from the clay cooker when we roasted a chicken in it. Damn. That stuff is gold, even in very small quantities. If you can't eat it today, freeze it.
I've only been making my own meat and vegetable stocks for the past ten years or so. D'oh! All that wasted loveliness.
It has been much more recent that I'm saving bean-cooking water. Bean-cooking water! This arises from the use of fantastic beans; dried-up Safeway bean water probably would get thrown out... but I no longer use dried-up Safeway beans. It's really tasty; we save it in the freezer.
Imagine saving bean-cooking liquid in the freezer.
Are you going to that show too?


Brooke said...

BEAN water? Really? What do you do with that?

el said...

Oh goodness about a quarter of the stuff in our fridge is saved liquids of some cooking process or another. It's funny: like most of the stuff in there, it's not food, but it's on its way to being food.

Okay: maybe this is another show, but are you sprouting things, CC? Because there's tons of nutritious goodliness in the water you soak your sprouts in...but I do suppose that's not cooking water per se...

cook eat FRET said...

so like do you ever save something liquidy but before putting it in the freezer you look at it real hard to commit whatever it is to memory because you are POSITIVE you won't forget and are too lazy to walk to the draw to get a sharpie - and then you open your freezer later only to discover that YOU HAVE NO IDEA what that liquid is?

because i never do that.

limoncello said...

The disgusting goo in canned beans was my closest point of reference to "pot liquor" until I went through an obsessive Rancho Gordo phase. (What about those recipes that call for canned beans INCLUDING the goo?!). I now save the pot liquor for adding body, knocking back the heat if I've gotten carried away, or just enjoying soupier beans than I used to.

Ack, the onerous Sharpie, there 3 feet from the container I'm about to stash in the freezer. Of course I could reach for it, but why when I'm SURE I'll remember what's in the container. ...This time.

cookiecrumb said...

Brooke: In the Department of Redundancy Department, we cooked lentils in white bean water (mixed with some vegetable broth). This formed the basis of a sort of minestrone, with tomatoes, zukes (both frozen), onion, potatoes and pasta. But it's so fragrant; I don't think it needs to be used solely for bean dishes.

El: Ooh! Not sprouting. Shoot. I need to make shoots. I know about that rejuvelac-sort-of water.... Yes? Thanks for reminding me.

Claudia: I have indeed been a freezer fool. You wouldn't believe how organized I am now, though. Really.

Limoncello: This response also applies to Claudia -- Sharpies stink! I don't want to use poisonous-smelling markers on my plastic tubs. I think the smell might permeate.
That said, I use Post-It's, and we wrap our labeled tubs in zippered freezer bags. Even if the label falls off, it's still in the bag somewhere.
As for canned bean goo. Nothankyouverymuch.
I forgot to say I also save the pot likker from stewing a mess of greens. That stuff is medicine.

Anna Haight said...

My mother was always saving liquids EXCEPT bean water.. the indigestible sugars that cause a certain noisiness are in the water...

John Thornton said...

I have a pot of bean water in my fridge right now from a combo of red and white chickpeas. It looks like mud and tastes divine.

Brittany said...

You have certainly one-upped me with the bean water. While I pride myself on having a very respectable collection of various sharpee labled jus and broths, I have never once saved my bean water.

Now I know.

kudzu said...

Well, yes, I've used and et many a liquid. (Re: pot likker: eat greens with the likker in a bowl with hot crumbled cornbread!) But the thing I did the other day to begin water conservation in my kitchen is this: I saved the water from cooking pasta, letting it sit at the back of the stove, because I knew I was going to steam some potatoes the next meal. I use one of those stock pots that has a steamer basket insert. After the water cooled from cooking the taters I took it to my front porch and watered a fern with it. Hope this sort of thing becomes natural to me as reservoirs don't rise but water rates do.

Samantha from Maine said...

Pot Liquor...nectar of the gods. :)

cookiecrumb said...

Anna: If you eat beans frequently, which we do, your body learns to cope with the sugars, and there is no (or way less) flatulence. We even cook our beans in the water they soaked in. Of course, this assumes buying good beans.

John: Thanks for the backup! I jes' do love you!
OK, people. See?

Britanny: I'm not trying to make converts out of anyone. In fact, the bean water would have to be pretty darn tasty for me to save it at all. Otherwise, I'd pour it on the ferns, like Kudzu does.

Kudzu: That's beyond clever. Using used water to steam the next meal. Then watering your plants with it!
(We have a bucket in the shower. Ferns are happy.)

Samantha: Dang! You just made me want to stew up a mess of greens. I love that juice.

Zoomie said...

I read somewhere that the whey left after making cheese is a great liquid to add to bread dough when making that - beautiful thrift that conserves all the goodness and health. Sadly, I discarded my whey before reading that.

Anonymous said...

With a chef son I discovered that restaurants use the pasta water all the time to add a bit of liquid and flavour to individual pasta dishes. The longer the water has been used, the richer the flavour.

Right now we have a fourteen year old fading collie and I mix up soups...meat, rice, vegs and any cooking liquids ...labelled or make his food appealing and healthy.

Carlyvrotz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carlyvrotz said...

It drives my husband crazy that I have a freezer filed with flat little baggies of...fried chicken butter, broth from pork ribs, "pot likker" from greens and potatoes. But he sure does love the gravies and soups they make!!!!

On the other hand, didn't anyone else's mom pack a thermos of "weenie water" from cooking hot dogs for school the next day?

Some people develop it. Others are born with it.

cookiecrumb said...

Carly: Weenie water?! Oh, boy. You win. That's a new one on me, and how yummy does that sound.
My husband is in trouble for dumping out the water we cooked wheat berries in.

cookiecrumb said...

Zoomie: Yes, that whey is good stuff. I've heard of it being fed to pigs, because it's nutritious. Don't forget next time!

Anonymous: I know about the gradually gloopening pasta water in restaurants. Wow.
If you want to know how to get instant pasta gloop water, click on the Harold McGee link in the main post. ;-)