The heat is on — but that doesn’t mean that cooking should be off. As the temperatures begin to rise this summer and many people go running to the respite of a cool, air-conditioned restaurant, now is a better time than ever to get into the kitchen and create some masterpieces with the season’s bounty.
So, how do you beat the heat? No, it’s not cooking in your bathing suit or keeping an ice bath nearby; it’s taking a little time and preparation to think of alternative solutions to cooking. These tips are simple and easy to follow, and they’ll certainly keep you from shying away from the stovetop this summer.
Keep the Heat at Bay
There are a lot of ways to keep the heat level at a minimum in your kitchen, including induction stoves, which use less heat than your regular stovetop, and exhaust fans, which will send the warm air right out the window. Both are inexpensive and easy to find purchases that’ll cool down your kitchen with a flick of a button. Whatever you do, though, avoid the oven at all costs, which is a much larger source of heat than anything else in your kitchen.
The Microwave Is Your New Best Friend
Microwaves aren’t just for making popcorn — and they produce little to no heat when running. The next time you go to boil a pot of water to steam some string beans, put them in a bowl with a few cubes of ice, cover them, and pop them in the microwave for two to three minutes for the same result. This variation can be applied to a lot of other cooking techniques as well.
Timing Is Everything
According to chef Dan Kluger at New York’s ABC Kitchen, time is on your side when trying to stay cool. "I… do a lot of things ahead of time when it’s cooler in the morning. Later in the afternoon, when it’s dinner time, and I’ve had the air conditioner running for a bit, I’ll go back and finish things off so not to create a lot of heat," he says.
Prepping with a Purpose
Cutting your ingredients, such as vegetables or meat, into smaller pieces is a great way to lower the heat while cooking because it reduces the amount of time needed to cook. On the same note, preparing meals in advance or on cooler days and then freezing them to reheat later on is a great way to use prep to your advantage.
Sous Vide, How Fancy
If you’re willing to make the investment, a sous vide cooking appliance is a great way to avoid high temperatures by cooking food sealed in an airtight plastic bag in a warm water bath. According to sous chef Kyle Anderson at Preservation Kitchen in Seattle, it’s the only way to go besides freezing a wet cloth in the shape of a U and keeping it around your neck.
It’s Summer — So Get Outside!
After all is said and done, the best way to squash the heat is to embrace it, so get outside and fire up the grill. Not only is it a favorite summer pastime and a delicious method to prepare a meal, it’s a great way to avoid your kitchen while cooking.
Anne Dolce is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @anniecdolce.
This story was originally published on June 28, 2012.