How to Clean an Instant Pot?

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Having a pressure cooker such as Instant Pot can make your mundane activities such as cooking a walk in the park. From helping you cook dishes like rice and chicken to allowing you to satisfy your sweet tooth with brownies and cakes, this effective gadget can without a shade of doubt handle almost everything you throw at it. However, as powerful as it might be, every Instant Pot machine requires regular maintenance for proper functioning. This means washing the parts of your machine as soon as you finish cooking and giving it a deep-cleaning once a month.

Cleaning an Instant Pot: Step-By-Step Guide

Below, we prepared a comprehensive step-by-step guide for you to learn how to clean the Instant Pot quickly and effectively.

What You Need

  • Warm soapy water
  • White vinegar and baking soda
  • Clean, soft cloth
  • Dishwasher (optional)
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Soft toothbrush

Do not use steel wool, abrasive cleaners, or other scrubbers that could ruin the lining of your pot.

Step One: Unplug the Instant Pot

The key thing to remember about any unit with an electrical outlet is to unplug it before cleaning.

Step Two: Clean the Inner Pot

The best part about the inner pot is that is dishwasher safe, no matter if it’s aluminum or uses stainless steel materials. Rinse it out and place it upside down on the lower rack to wash.

If, however, you prefer the handwashing method, use hot soapy water to clean it while getting the stuck-on pieces of food out by scrubbing with baking soda. Create a solution of three parts warm water to one part baking soda and scrub with a soft-bristled bottle brush to preserve the surface of your pot. Rinse it well and wipe down its interior and exterior surfaces using a soft dry cloth.

Boiling Method

The boiling method is perhaps the easiest way to get rid of burnt-on food as it loosens the burnt-on food particles for effortless cleaning. Boil some water in the inner pot for several minutes and then

Step Three: Wash the Sealing Ring

The sealing ring can absorb odors from strong-smelling foods such as garlic or onion. Throw it in the dishwasher or wash it by hand to get rid of these odors. In case you are still noticing lingering odors after a thorough wash, try the following tips.

  • Mix one part of white vinegar with one part of water (possibly two cups of each liquid) into the Instant Pot, adding a roughly chopped lemon rind.
  • Run the steam program for somewhere around two minutes.
  • Once the program finishes, remove the ring and let it air dry.

Although the odor absorbing properties of white vinegar have proven themselves highly efficient time and again, it is pretty challenging to fully eliminate some odors. This is why we recommend replacing the ring every six months to a year if you don’t want any lingering odors to crosscontaminate your food.

Step Four: Remove and Wash the Tiny Parts From Your Lid

Cleaning the lid doesn’t require frequent removal of all parts, however, if you want to be more thorough, you might want to disassemble a few key parts from its exterior and clean them separately.

  • Inspect the float valve and the steam release valve to make sure whether they are free of any food particles.
  • Remove any tiny parts from the interior such as the anti-block shield, a silicone nub that prevents food particles from interfering with the steam release valve, to inspect more thoroughly for any clogs. Using your thumb, push the anti-block shield towards the outer edge of the lid firmly but carefully and it should pop right off.
  • Another small part to remove is the silicon cap that covers the float valve.
  • Although machine washable, we recommend putting these tiny parts in warm soapy water and cleaning them thoroughly using a toothbrush.

Step Five: Clean the Lid

After removing the sealing ring and all the small parts, place the lid in the top rack of your dishwasher to give it a proper wash. If, however, a dishwasher is not an option, use a soft-bristled brush to get rid of any remaining food particles. Allow the lid to fully dry before putting the pieces back together by turning it like a steering wheel over your sink.

Step Six: Wash the Condensation Cup

If the Instant Pot you are using has a flat plastic cup that collects water droplets at the rear of the cooker base, make sure to remove and clean it after each use. The reason for this is that it collects a hodgepodge of food particles which can promote mold growth when combined with moisture.

The best part about cleaning the condensation cup is that it is dishwasher safe but cleaning it by hand is also a breeze. Wash it in soapy water and make sure to rinse it well before putting it back on the machine.

Step Seven: Clean the Cooker Base and Heating Element

The cooker base requires the most care when cleaning the Instant Pot as it is not dishwasher safe. Use a slightly dampened soft cloth to wipe down the exterior and inside lip of the base. Make sure to always keep this part dry as it houses the heating element and electronics.

Step Nine: Plug the Machine in an Electric Outlet

Once every nook and cranny is fully dry, you can freely plug the machine back in an electric outlet. Make sure to push the power cord firmly all the way into the cooker base to ensure safety.

Tips to Keep Your Machine Clean Longer

  • Remove undesirable odors by soaking the rings overnight in a 1:1 distilled vinegar and water solution.
  • Most machines come with two rings, and for a good reason too. Switch them for sweet and savory dishes to help prevent cross-contamination of odors and flavors.
  • Never clean the inner surfaces of the Instant Pot with an abrasive sponge as it may damage the mirror finish.

When to Replace My Instant Pot?

Even though Instant Pot does not release any information about the life expectancy of its pressure cookers, the fact that they use high-end materials indicates that their Instant Pot is most likely to last for several years, of course, with proper care. Do note, though, that you might need to replace certain parts such as the silicone ring every two to three years in order to keep the machine efficient.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you now have a better idea of how the whole Instant Pot cleaning process goes and are going to use the knowledge to not only prolong its lifespan but enjoy foods free of cross-contamination as well.

The best part about this machine is that the majority of its parts are dishwasher safe (except the cooker base and the heating element). Whether you use the dishwasher or wash its bits and pieces by hand, make sure they are fully dry before putting them back together. The last but not least key thing to remember is to always unplug the device before washing.

How to Make Capicola

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The Italian Capicola, or coppa, has many names and a distinctive, delicious taste. You might also know it as capocollo or gabagool – depending on where you’re from.

However, regardless of the name, the famous capicola is almost always prepared the same way, which is still quite a feat. After all, it’s one of Italy’s most famous and most valued culinary cuts.

If you believe that you’re up to the task and want to impress your family and friends at the next gathering, here, we’ll share everything we know when it comes to making a masterfully exquisite capicola.

Capicola’s History

Let’s start by familiarizing ourselves with the history and traditions of the Italian capicola. In fact, the coppa is a traditional Italian and Corsican dry-cured pork meat. It’s cold cut and made from the longest muscle in the pig running from the neck to the fourth or fifth rib.

The word capocollo is a combination of two words – capo meaning head and collo meaning neck. But, outside of Italy, capicola is also famous in Argentina (bondiola or bondiola curada), and North America (capicola). Italian Americans in New York popularized the word “gabagool” because of their unique pronunciation in the 19th- and early 20th-century.

Today, capicola is made in almost every region of Italy. But, Lazio, Tuscany, and Umbria are just some of the regions that commercially produce their own capicola products.

There are several varieties of the capicola, including the famous Coppa Piacentina and Capocollo di Calabria which have a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status under the Common Agricultural Policy of the E.U. This status means that only products that truly originated in Italian regions can be used in the production of commercial capicola.

And, while we’re talking about commercial capicola, it’s usually seasoned with red wine, garlic, salt, and other seasons specific to the region where it originates. The meat is then stuffed into a casing made from the animal’s intestines or skin. Finally, the freshly made capicola is hung and left for up to six months to dry.

So, what’s different when making a homemade capicola? More importantly, what’s the best method for preparing a really delicious capicola? Let’s see.

What You Will Need

To prepare a traditionally accurate capicola, you’ll need several things. Of course, these recommendations are not absolutely necessary, but they’ll sure help you make a tastier capicola.

First, you may want to buy a vacuum sealer. This is a very beneficial piece of equipment that will help the meat absorb the seasons. Using vacuum sealers helps achieve consistent results when it comes to taste and texture.

Second, if you’re using a refrigerator to dry age the meat, you can buy a meat kit from Amazon. This will help you master the process of dry-aging meats at home without fuss.

How To Get Perfect Cuts

While you can cut and serve capicola to your liking, experts recommend slicing it very thin due to its dense flavors and chewy texture. It’s traditionally served with red wine (sometimes white wine), cheese, bread, and crackers. This makes it the perfect ingredient in a rich cheese board.

However, to make sure each cut is perfect, there are a few other things to consider. For instance, following online recipes to a T does not guarantee a good result, even if they’re traditional Italian methods of preparation.

The reason for this is that each cut of meat varies in weight, so you’ll need to manually calculate how much of the curating ingredients is the right amount for your piece of meat.

Here are two ratios to be mindful of.

First, use around 3% of Kosher salt. For instance, if you have around 2.3kg of meat (~ 5 pounds), you’ll need to use 68 grams of Kosher salt. The formula to calculate for different amounts of meat is simple – find the weight in kg, then multiply the mass value by 1000 to convert to grams. Then, multiply that number by 0.03 (3%). The result would be grams of salt needed for your piece of meat.

Second, use around 0.25% Instacure #2. Again, for a piece of meat that weighs around 2.3kg (~ 5 pounds), you’ll need 5.7 grams of Instacure #3. You can apply the same formula from above.

Homemade Italian Capicola

The meat used for capicola is carefully cut, de-boned then separated from the fat. Still, there should be around 3-4 millimeters of fat on the surface of the meat because that prevents the meat from drying out when seasoning. It’s important to know these things when buying meat for making capicola. High-quality meat is the foundation for your homemade capicola – without it, the outcome won’t be satisfactory even with the best recipe out there.

Preparation

Once you have the piece of meat, you need to season it. There are a few ways to approach this.

The first way to do this is to rub the meat in with the seasons after which, you’ll leave the meat to sit in the refrigerator for a few days (or a week).

The second way to season your meat is to mix all the seasons in a vacuum seal bag. Insert the meat in the bag, close it, then thoroughly shake the bag until all the seasons fully cover the piece of meat. Then, leave the meat in the fridge for a couple of days (or a week).

The next step in the preparation, after the salt rest, the meat is traditionally washed with water and vinegar, pressed, and seasoned again – usually with black pepper or another spicy ingredient. It comes down to preference and taste.

Then, the meat is ready to be stuffed and cured. In commercially-produced capicola, makers use spiced animal skin or intestines as a case. However, at your home, you can use synthetic collagen-wrapped sheets or natural dried wrap sheets as an alternative.

Stuffing the meat in the casing is important not just for taste, but also for protection. The case will protect the meat from contamination and bacteria during the drying and curing process.

After this, you hand the freshly prepared capicola and wait. Experts recommend for the capicola to hang for at least 100 days. However, at home, you can roast the capicola and eat it in the next couple of hours – just follow our recipe below!

Ingredients

A couple of times throughout the article we’ve mentioned seasoning the meat. And, while this is very personal and depends on taste, here are some of the seasons traditionally used in Italy. But, keep in mind that seasoning also varies from region to region within Italy itself.

  • wine;
  • garlic;
  • salt;
  • black pepper;
  • coriander;
  • fennel;
  • cinnamon;
  • nutmeg;
  • cloves;
  • paprika;
  • thyme;
  • bay leaves;
  • chili powder.

Choose the seasons that you prefer most and don’t be afraid to experiment. However, the instructions below are based on Charcutaria’s video on YouTube, which we believe is a fairly simple, yet traditional recipe. Because of this, in the instructions, we’ll recommend a specific mix of ingredients.

For this recipe, you’ll need:

  • kosher salt (2-3% of total meat mass);
  • instacure #2 (0.25% of total meat mass);
  • sugar (1% of total meat mass) – optional;
  • brown sugar – 1g;
  • nutmeg – 1g;
  • allspice – 1g;
  • smoked paprika – 1g;
  • clove powder – 1g;
  • collagen sheet;
  • elastic net ~50mm;

Instructions

  1. Take your meat out on a cutting board. You can cut it in half if it’s big, but leave the fat intact.
  2. Rub it thoroughly with the kosher salt, then instacure, and finally with the sugar (if applicable).
  3. Place it in a vacuum seal or ziplock bag (no air should get in), close it, and store it in the refrigerator for 7 to 14 days. To make sure the seasons are absorbed equally from all sides, you can turn the piece of meat every day or every other day.
  4. After 14 days, take it out of the refrigerator and remove it from the bag. Lightly rinse off the seasons.
  5. While the meat dries, mix together brown sugar, nutmeg, allspice, smoked paprika, and clove powder on a plate.
  6. Rub the meat in the mix thoroughly and evenly.
  7. Wrap the meat with the collagen sheet. Be careful not to create air pockets. If that happens, press firmly until the air is removed.
  8. Then, wrap the meat in an elastic net ~50mm.
  9. Hang the capicola in a dark place with a lot of humidity (+90%) where the air temperature is around 24°C. Leave it for 3 days.
  10. After 3 days, move it to a cooler place – around 14°C. Keep it there until the meat has 30-40% reduced its mass. Some experts advise to keep the meat hanging for up to 100 days.
  11. Finally, when it’s ready, rise it with lukewarm water to clean the surface, and remove its collagen sheet.
  12. Cut it in tiny slices and serve.

Alternative

However, for those who are quite impatient and don’t want to wait for 100 days, here’s what you can do instead.

Follow the recipe above up to step 6. Then, stuff the meat into the elastic net.

In the meantime, preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Then, fill a pan with water and place it on the middle or the bottom rack. The reason for this is that when cooking, the water will evaporate creating humidity for the coppa – it will keep it moist.

Then, take a roasting pan and place the meat in the center of it. Place the pan on the top rack in the oven and let it cook for around 1 hour. Turn the meat so the bottom can be evenly cooked and cook for another hour.

After two hours check the internal temperature of the meat. 145-150 degrees F is what you should aim for and it means that your capicola is ready – well, almost!

Before serving, place the capicola in the refrigerator and let it cool for 4 hours. Enjoy!

This is not a traditional Italian way of making capicola, but if you want something very, very similar without the waiting period, this is as close as it gets.

Nutritional Profile of Capicola

The capicola has a soft and tender texture. It’s chewy but goes amazingly with wine and cheese. Most adults who love cured meats would agree that capicola’s delicate flavor is a perfect addition to any sandwich or a wonderful snack. But, is it good for our health? And, based on its nutritional profile, how often should you eat capicola?

Based on the USDA Food Composition Databases for cooked and air-dried capicola, the nutritional values per 100g are as follows:

      1. Energy: 158 cal;
      2. Protein: 19.3g;
      3. Fat: 8.77g;
      4. Carbohydrate: 0g;
      5. Fiber: 0g;
      6. Sodium: 930g;
      7. Cholesterol: 93mg.
    1. Energy: 123 cal;
    2. Protein: 19.3g;
    3. Fat: 3.51g;
    4. Carbohydrate: 1,75g;
    5. Fiber: 0g;
    6. Sodium: 1190g;
    7. Cholesterol: 61mg.

We can conclude that capicola is a quite healthy and nutritious snack. However, because of its high salt content and cholesterol, it’s better to be consumed in moderation.

Additional Tips

We believe that by now, you’re ready to give the capicola recipe a try. However, if you need a little bit of a confidence boost, the following tips might just do the tricks. Here’s what to be mindful of if you’re a true nitpicker and want to make sure everything is perfect.

Make Sure The Measurements Are Just Right

We covered the right ratios for making a delicious capicola above. The reason for this is that too much salt can make the meat very very dry, while too little can be bad for the curing process.

To make sure you nail the measurements, we recommend using a digital scale. Also, pay attention to the formulas we’ve explained and calculate the right amounts for the piece of meat you’ll be working with.

Patience Is Key

Another thing most people usually get wrong is opening the meat too early. This can happen in any of the two processes. First, some take the meat out of the refrigerator in three to five days. This will make it harder for the meat to dry during the second waiting period. Second, some people don’t want to wait 100 days for the meat to dry and are curious to see what they’ve made. However, opening it before the capicola has reduced its mass by 30-40% will result in a lump of very watery and overall bad meat.

The Elastic Net Is Not Essential

Let’s face it, the elastic band is what makes the meat look like it’s done in a very professional manner. However, the truth is, the elastic net is not essential. We’re telling you things because placing it can be a challenge. So, if it’s too overwhelming, don’t be discouraged. You can achieve the same thing with butcher’s twine or buy meat netting rolls from Amazon – they’re ready to use and you just have to slip the meat inside.

Don’t Be Afraid To Experiment With Spices

Finally, and we can’t stress this enough, don’t be afraid to experiment with the spices. Sure, it’s important to try and make the capicola as traditional as possible, but if you use species that you normally don’t eat, the result will not be satisfactory. Plus, remember that even in Italy, different regions have adopted different seasonings. Give your homemade capicola your own touch with the slightly personalized seasoning mix – that can be your secret touch.

Conclusion

If you still haven’t tried to make homemade capicola, we encourage you to try it. Once you give it a shot, you’ll see that all this complex process of curating meat is actually pretty straightforward. It only involves a few steps and then a lot of waiting. In fact, patience is the only necessary skill.

Plus, we all know that wine, cheese, and cured meats are an adult’s guilty pleasure. So, don’t miss this awesome opportunity to impress your friends and family with your own homemade capicola. Hey, even if it’s just for your own pleasure – we know that capicola is worth the wait!

Where Does Sausage Come From?

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“Those who like sausages and the law should never watch how either one of them is made “ –  an old saying that makes you, even more, intrigued to know what happens behind the scenes. Who invented sausages and what are the main ingredients?

Different countries have their own recipe and version for what we would all agree is a sausage – a highly seasoned minced meat encased in a skin or a casing. Because of this, the ingredients for sausages can be very different from country to country or even from region to region within one country.

This begs the question of whether it’s possible that different cultures around the world invented the sausage independently from one another?

In this article, we’ll try to answer the question “Where does sausage come from?” by looking at the origins and history of sausages. But also, we’ll try to give a brief overview of the different types of sausages around the world and the production process, which reveals insights into the sausage industry.

Origins of Sausages

The word sausage comes from the Latin word salsus meaning salted. And, if you’re wondering why the word “salted” would represent minced meat encased in an animal’s skin, there’s an interesting story of how the sausage got its name.

The first thing you need to know is that sausages have been around for centuries. This means that people have been making sausages even before sophisticated methods of preparation and preservation were available. Because of this, with no refrigerators for centuries to come, people used salt to preserve meat.

So, does this mean that the Roman Empire was where sausages were first made? No, not quite. As it seems, sausages can be traced back all the way back to 3100 BC and the Sumerians in a region called Mesopotamia – or at least, one type of sausage.

Since different types of sausages originated in different parts of the world throughout history. Therefore, it makes sense to construct a timeline where different types of sausages first appeared.

Timeline of Sausage Evolution

People began making sausages around 5000 years ago. This means that the history of sausages is as long as civilization itself. Here’s what that looks like.

3100 BC: The First Sausage in Mesopotamia

The Sumerians were an ancient civilization in southern Mesopotamia (today Iraq) who were considered the creators of civilization as we understand it today. But, they’re also considered the inventors of something else too – the sausage.

There’s evidence that Sumerians used the meat of dead horses or hunted animals such as lions, deer, boar, cattle, and more to make sausages.

However, these sausages are not something that we can see today, and for a good reason. They were made in a very unhygienic manner and without any knowledge of preservation, which means their shelf life was basically non-existent.

1000 BC: Sujuk in Turkey

Around 2000 years after the Sumerians, the Turks were able to improve the ways food was prepared. With this knowledge, they created their own sausage – the so-called sujuk.

The sujuk is a dry, spicy, and fermented sausage typically made from ground beef and a lot of spices such as cumin and garlic. In Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, horse meat was used.

The sujuk is still consumed today in several Balkan, Middle Eastern, and Central Asian cuisines.

580 BC – 300 AD: Lap Cheong in China

After the Turks, the Chinese started making their own sausages called Lap Cheong. The term Lap Cheong is a generic word referring to the many different types of sausages originating in China.

The main ingredients in Lap Cheong sausages are fresh pork or liver, although different countries in Asia have their own version and recipe.

Today, Lap Cheong sausages are sold and consumed all around the world.

1300s: Merguez in North Africa

Another type of sausage popular today originated from the Maghreb cuisine in the northwesternmost part of Africa along the Mediterranean Sea. The merguez is a very spicy, red sausage that is typically made fresh from mutton or beef stuffed into a lamb-intestine casing.

Cumin, chili pepper, and harissa are the three spices most commonly used to make merguez, which give the sausage its characteristic red color. Today, the merguez is usually eaten grilled in sandwiches and with french fries.

1313: Bratwurst in Germany

The bratwurst is one of the most popular sausages today in Germany and the world. The word bratwurst is derived from the Old High German meaning finely chopped meat. The sausage is typically made from veal, beef, or pork.

The first documented evidence for a bratwurst recipe in Germany dates to 1313 in Nuremberg, which is still considered an internationally renowned center for production for grilled sausages.

Fun Fact: Did you know that Germany is the country with the largest volume of sausage consumption? In fact, Germans eat three times more sausages (per capita) than the second-largest consumer in Europe – Poland.

1376: Mortadella in Italy

Soon after the popularization of the bratwurst, Italy produced the mortadella, which is their first and one of the most popular sausages.

The Mortadella originated in Bologna, the capital of Emilia-Romagna. Traditionally, mortadella recipes included a pork filling (ground to a paste), small cubes of pork fat, and black pepper. However, today, several different variations of the mortadella exist and some of them contain pistachios or, more rarely, myrtle berries. This combination gives the mortadella a very unique taste.

1484: Frankfurter in Germany

As a true sausage-lover, in 1484, Germany invented yet another type of sausage that took the world by storm. The name frankfurter might not mean anything to you, but that’s what Germans call the hot dog! Somewhere in the 1900s, frankfurters were introduced in the United States and quickly became one of the most well-known items of American food.

The frankfurter is a highly seasoned sausage that’s traditionally made of mixed pork and beef. However, unlike many other sausages, the frankfurter is sold ready to eat. You may buy them loose, vacuum-packed, or canned. And, while you can eat them without cooking, they taste best when they’re slightly grilled.

1600s: Chorizo in Spain

In Spain and Portugal in the 1600s, people started experimenting with paprika, which led to the invention of the chorizo – a  fermented, cured, smoked sausage with dried, smoked, red peppers. Because paprika is the main ingredient, the chorizo has a deep red color.

Chorizo is traditionally made from pork. People eat it in a sandwich, grilled, or simmered in a liquid such as apple cider or alcohol.

1800s: Kielbasa in Poland

Kielbasa is a generic term that refers to any type of meat sausage originating from Poland. Because of this, kielbasa sausages come in many different flavors. In fact, every region has its own special recipe for kielbasa, including countries outside of Poland such as Hungary, Slovenia, Ukraine, and more.

Kielbasa sausages are typically represented as a U-shape, smoked sausage made from pork, although you can find kielbasa with other meat as well.

The Polska Kielbasa Wędzona, sausage with sugar and marjoram, is a unique and popular choice.

1830s: Saveloy in England

In the 19th century, England introduced the saveloy to the world. The saveloy is a highly seasoned, bright red sausage that’s traditionally eaten with chips (similar to french fries) and sauce.

The characteristic thing about the saveloy is that it’s normally boiled (pre-cooked) during production, although you can also find it fried in batter.

If you want to try a very traditional saveloy meal, go for a “Sav Dip” sandwich.

1903: Chipolata in France

In 1903, in Escoffier’s Le guide culinaire, the name and recipe for today’s famous chipolata sausage was first seen. The chipolata sausage is a very thin and small sausage intended to be eaten for breakfast.

Chipolata sausages are traditionally fresh sausages made from coarse-ground pork and seasoned with salt, pepper, sage, thyme, pimento, or nutmeg (if you follow the original recipe).

Today, chipolata sausages are very popular in England at Christmas, while in Switzerland chipolata sausages are made with veal and milk, in addition to pork.

How Are Sausages Made?

Mainly, sausages are made from fine minced or ground meat from different animals such as beef, lamb, pork, and poultry in combination with salt, spices, and other flavorings. After making the meat mixture, they are stuffed into casings. The casing was traditionally made from animal skin but is now more commonly made from collagen and cellulose.

From everything that we’ve covered so far, we can conclude that sausages can be made from almost anything. From the finest parts of meat to the scrap that is left on the butchers’ floor such as lips, ears, tails, etc. This is why their price tag can vary greatly. Sausages can either be one of the most expensive treats or one of the cheapest and most widely available items of food.

Regardless of what type of meat is being used, most sausage makers use pork fat to bind the ingredients together. Pork fat is considered to be a great binding ingredient because of its texture and mild flavor.

Aside from the ingredients, sausages also vary in the way they’re prepared, which dictated how they’re intended to be consumed. Based on preparation methods, we have several types of sausages.

Types of Sausages

Sausages can be fresh, made from meat, fat, spices, and multiple choices of flavoring required to reach the wanted taste.

There is also a so-called “cured” sausage and it has some good marketing strategy behind it. Cured sausages have a big amount of salt added into the mixture, after which they are left to dry for several weeks until all the moisture is removed from the mixture. The reason behind this process is to make them ready for consumption without the need for cooking. In other words, you can just buy them and get to eating straight away, without the need to cook them.

And, if you didn’t know, you can also have sausages as snacks! This type of sausage is also known as dried sausages or beef jerky. They are usually made the same way as any sausage with the difference of being enclosed in much smaller casings and dried for a long time to get that crispy taste – just as if fried.

Conclusion

We can thank the Sumerians in southern Mesopotamia for the invention of the original sausage, although eating their version is not something we would recommend. Thanks to innovations and discoveries in food preparation, people were able to improve their initial recipes. Then, different cuisines around the world started to experiment with taste and customized the recipe for the sausage to their liking.

Because of this, today, we have dozens, if not hundreds, of different types of sausages available in supermarkets. Whether you prefer fresh, smoked, boiled, cured, highly-seasoned, or not, there’s a sausage for every taste. Today, even vegans and vegetarians can enjoy a sausage thanks to plant-based alternatives.

How Long Does Used Cooking Oil Last?

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Fried foods are among the most popular comfort meals across the globe. One may even say that they’re the type of food that brings people together the most, as deep-fried snacks are a staple for parties, family get-togethers, or even sports events.

In fact, food or snacks that are cooked in oil are also one of the food groups people crave the most when they’re on a diet.

But, if you’re guilty of using up a gallon of oil to achieve that fast-food-like deep-fried taste at home, you might have a lot of oil that has now been used once. What do you do with all the oil once you’re done cooking? Is that safe to reuse? Many recipes online do not tell you exactly what kind of oil to use; can you use anything? All of these questions are quite common and very valid.

But in order to come to a verdict on whether deep frying is healthy or not, or if you should reuse it; we first need to talk about the different types of oils, what their uses are, and what causes them to behave differently during the cooking process.

Types of Cooking Oils: What’s the Difference?

There are numerous types of oils available on the market. Some, like olive oil, are well-known, while others like grapeseed or avocado oil are less-known or even unknown by most people, but they are slowly gaining popularity nowadays because of their health benefits.

Oil is produced from a wide range of plants’ seeds and fruits. Some oils such as sunflower, olive, and canola oil are widely used and therefore usually produced on a large scale. On the other hand, grapeseed, linseed, or walnut oil can be produced on a smaller scale for personal use. This is because they have more specific uses and are also usually less profitable to produce.

But how can we tell which oil is the healthiest option? Can you cook and fry using the same type of oil? Let’s explore different types of cooking oils and find out.

In order to have a better understanding of why different oils have different uses, it’s a good idea to explain what the “smoking point” of oil is.

What Does “The Smoking Point” Mean?

Different types of oils have different smoking points. The smoking point is the temperature at which the oil starts to create smoke; an indication that it’s starting to burn. At this point, the oil’s qualities begin to quickly deteriorate and the cooking oil becomes unsafe to use.

It’s important to note that going above the smoking point may cause the oil to combust and can lead to serious injuries, so it’s always a safe practice to stop heating your cooking oil once it starts burning.

Smoking points can also vary between the refined and regular versions of the same type of oil. This is because refined oils are rich in various minerals and enzymes and are, therefore, more flavorful.

For example, the smoking point of refined olive oil is higher than regular olive oil. This is why refined oil is more widely sold as cooking oil, although it won’t taste nearly as good as the unrefined olive oil on a cold salad.

Here’s a list of some of the most popular cooking oils’ smoking points, from the highest to the lowest:

  • Refined Avocado Oil – 520°F (271°C)
  • Refined Olive Oil – 465°F (240°C)
  • Refined peanut oil – 450°F (232°C)
  • Ghee/Clarified butter – 450°F (232°C)
  • Corn/Sunflower oil – 450°F (232°C)
  • Canola oil – 400°F (204°C)
  • Grapeseed oil – 400°F (204°C)
  • Extra virgin olive oil – 375°F (190°C)
  • Butter – 300°F (148°C)

Best Oils for Cooking

As mentioned above, unrefined or “raw” oils are oils that have been left in their natural state. These oils tend to be packed with flavor and they also provide more health benefits than refined oils.

Unrefined oils, on the other hand, have lower smoking points and oxidize more rapidly when they are exposed to heat. This is why it’s generally recommended to use these types of oils in low-heat cooking and sauteing, or just heat them up without allowing them to reach their smoking point. It’s also a great idea to use them in salad dressings. Unrefined oils also require better storage conditions as they can go bad easily.

For any kind of high-heat cooking like frying or deep-frying, it’s recommended to use oils with higher smoking points. You can never go wrong here with refined avocado oil or refined peanut oil, which is arguably the most popular oil used in Asian cuisine.

Since the health benefits of the oil come from whether it contains more unsaturated fats than saturated fats, flaxseed, olive, and canola oil are among the cooking oils you can always rely on. To find out more, you can read our article titled Can you deep-fry with olive oil?, which explains the health benefits of olive oil.

How Long Does Used Cooking Oil Last?

Having learned about types of cooking oils and their smoking points brings us to our main question: how long does used cooking oil last? You may have already realized that this question also depends on what kind of oil is being used, whether it’s refined or unrefined, and whether it has been stored properly or not.

Ideally, cooking oils should not be reused. But it’s most certainly not an uncommon practice to reuse deep frying oils. So the next best is this: as long as you take good care of your cooking oil, it should be fine for a couple more uses. The important point here is to remember that even if you have done everything to take great care of it, you shouldn’t cook with used cooking oils for longer than 1-2 months.

Is It Safe to Reuse Cooking Oil?

Whether it’s safe to reuse cooking oil depends on what is the specific oil you’re using, yes, but it also largely depends on what your cooking technique is. If you’ve heated your oil past the burning point during the cooking process, you probably don’t want to cook your food using that oil again.

When deep-frying, maintaining the cooking oil at a certain temperature is not only crucial for getting the right amount of crisp on your snacks but it’s also important to keep the cooking process as safe as possible. As long as you fry your food at around 190°C (374°F), your cooking oils should last longer.

What Changes Does Cooking Oil Go Through After Use?

As explained above, you can only reuse your cooking oil so many times. Once your oil is destabilized by being exposed to high heat too many times, not only will the taste and the color start to change but the oil will also eventually start to decompose.

Although it’s easy to tell when your oil starts decomposing, due to it starting to thicken in consistency and darken in color; it’s not always easy to spot a destabilized oil. To prevent using oil that is no longer healthy, make sure to open up your deep fryer to smell the oil. If it has started to go bad, it may also be bubbly or foamy on top, or its color may change.

It’s always a good idea to check every once in a while to see if your used or unused cooking oils are in good shape and make sure to throw away anything that looks or smells suspicious immediately.

Is It Possible to Clean Used Cooking Oil?

As explained above, taking good care of your cooking oil after you use it is crucial if you want to reuse it. Here are some helpful tips to help you successfully recycle your cooking oils:

  • You can strain your cooking oil after it cools down with a fine strainer or cloth to remove leftover food or batter pieces. Leaving these in will cause your oil to deteriorate faster.
  • After straining all the leftover bits, store your cooking oil in the fridge to keep it fresh longer.
  • When you deep-fry food, try not to use too much batter to avoid further contaminating the oil as much as possible.

How Long Does Unused Cooking Oil Last?

Since we’re on the subject, let’s now talk a little bit about how long you should keep an open bottle of oil. As long as you store your oil in dark, low-temperature storage, the general consensus seems to be that most popular cooking oils like refined sunflower oil, peanut oil, or olive oil can be stored for up to 2 years.

However, this does not mean that your oil will be in the best shape for the duration of 2 years -the taste and color are bound to deteriorate over time. If you want to get the best tate out of your oil, it’s recommended to not use an open container of cooking oil for longer than 6 months.

Conclusion

We all love deep-fried food, but not everyone wants to be involved in the process of actually making it. We get it: it’s a stressful process, you don’t know what to do with the oil after you’re done cooking, and there’s a lot of hearsay about what not to do. But now that you’ve learned the basics, you can safely enjoy cooking your favorite fried dishes!

As long as you maintain a safe temperature while cooking, strain and refrigerate your oil after you use it, and don’t use your cooking oil for more than 1-2 months, you should be fine.

And lastly, remember to check on your deep fryer to see if there’s any abnormal smell coming from the oil, or if it has deepened too much in color. In case of any suspicion, the best practice is to replace the oil to ensure the deliciousness of your food, as well as your safety.

Can Non-Stick Pans Go In the Oven?

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If you’re someone who only cooks to get by, you probably see buying kitchen tools as a big investment and don’t want to buy a specific tool, utensil, or appliance for every small thing. Sometimes, improvising goes a long way. We’ve all done it. So, you do the best you can with what you have in your kitchen.

But is this always a good idea? Of course, there’s a reason why there are a variety of different tools you can use in the kitchen; ease of use and practicality. Have you ever used a cast iron wok for your homemade stir-fries? They’re great! Sometimes, using just the right tool for the job not only cuts down on your cooking time but can also make cooking that much more fun.

Of course, there are also situations when you don’t want to use the wrong tool when you’re cooking. You don’t want to put your or anyone’s health in danger. And that brings us to the question: can non-stick pans go in the oven? Since non-stick pans can be made out of a variety of materials, let’s see what kinds of non-stick pans there are and whether they are safe to use in the oven or not.

What Are Non-Stick Pans Made Out Of?

Non-stick pans are made out of many different materials. They may even be made out of a combination of materials or there can be layers to the coating. Therefore, there are a lot of things to look out for when you’re checking whether a pan is oven safe.

First, let’s check out the most common materials used in non-stick pan coating:

PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) Coated Non-Stick Pans

PTFE-coated non-stick pans are one of the oldest and probably most popular non-stick pans out there, but you may have never heard of them before. This is because they are much more widely known as “Teflon”  pans, a term that is actually a brand name.

The material itself, PTFE, is safe to use at low temperatures. It’s resistant to heat, moisture, and friction, which makes it so that the food that you’re cooking doesn’t cling to the surface of the material. Because of their durability and convenience, Teflon pans are among the culinary items that many people rely on the most in their kitchens.

When you’re cooking with PTFE-coated pans, one of the most important things to remember is that they should never be used with metal. The oxidation, or rusting, of the aluminum substance that occurs when the PTFE pan or pot is scraped can induce PTFE poisoning. You also shouldn’t use metal or wire cleaning sponges when you’re cleaning your PTFE-coated non-stick pan.

Ceramic (Sol-Gel) Coated Non-Stick Pans

Made from a mixture of silica and clay, ceramic coated pans and pots are gaining more and more popularity and quickly becoming a staple in everyone’s kitchen. They are much healthier than PTFE non-stick pans, but there are still a few things to watch out for when you’re cooking with a ceramic coated pan.

Although it’s safe, it’s important to understand that ceramic pots should not be washed in the dishwasher if you want them to last longer. Dishwasher detergents contain salt and chemicals that harm and deteriorate the ceramic coating. Your cookware will last longer if you wash it by hand.

It’s also a good idea to not cook at high temperatures while using ceramic non-stick pans, as that can also damage the ceramic coating. Using metal utensils may also scratch the surface and weaken the coating. If the coating is damaged, your pan will no longer be “non-stick” and the coating may start to come off.

Enameled Cast Iron Non-Stick Pans

Enamel is a coating material from Ancient Greece. At the time, it was used in the making of jewelry and ornaments. In the recent past, it also has been very popularly used as a coating for cast iron pans, pots, and skillets.

The enamel coating is usually applied to cast iron pans to make them non-stick, and it’s actually healthy to use. But enameled cast iron non-stick pans may distribute heat more poorly compared to non-enameled cast irons.

Anodized Aluminum Coated Non-Stick Pans

Anodized aluminum-coated non-stick pans are another traditional alternative to PTFE-coated non-stick pans. They are known to be safe as long as the coating is applied correctly and the material being used is pure and of good quality.

However, just like PTFE-coated and ceramic-coated non-stick pans, you need to be careful about using metal utensils while cooking with aluminum-coated cookware. If the surface is scratched and aluminum is exposed, it may lead to poisoning.

Seasoned Cast Iron Non-Stick Pans

Cast iron is normally not a non-stick material unless it’s coated with different materials such as enamel, as explained above. But it’s definitely a go-to for a lot of professional chefs and home-cooking hobbyists. So, how can you use your cast iron without it sticking to everything? The answer is seasoning your pan!

This technique, known as seasoning, improves the flavor of uncoated cast iron kitchenware while also making it more durable and non-stick. In fact, some people even recommend baking your newly purchased uncoated cast iron cookware before using it for the first time.

How to Season Your Cast Iron Pan

To shortly walk you through the process;

  • First, clean and rinse your cast iron skillet or pot with dish soap and a dish sponge.
  • Remove any excess water by rubbing the pan with a dry cloth or a paper towel.
  • Then use a heat-resistant oil like sesame oil, coconut oil, or olive oil to grease the inside of the pan. Using a paper towel, wipe away any excess oil.
  • Position the pan upside down and bake for 1 hour in the oven at 180-200°C.
  • After turning off the oven, allow it to cool for one to two hours before using your cast iron pan.

Superhydrophobic Material Coated Non-Stick Pans

Superhydrophobic materials are not very popular in cookware as of yet. But there are definitely examples out there. Superhydrophobic material-coated pans are expected to gain popularity once they become easier to produce.

Silicone Non-Stick Coating

Usually used in bakeware, silicone, made out of silica, is another type of non-stick coating. Although not used in pans and pots, silicone is very popularly used in baking trays and molds. They are very safe to use as long as they do not contain plastic material as filler, since silicone is a non-toxic material to the human body.

Although it’s not toxic, materials coated with silicone should not be heated up higher than 300°C, just to be safe. And while we’re on the topic of safety, we should also add that using hard or sharp utensils on your silicone cookware can also scratch it. Although silicone itself isn’t toxic, the scratches can house bacteria inside the silicone.

Lastly, you should also remember that silicone is not entirely non-stick by itself. Usually, you need to coat your baking pan with a substance like flour or cornstarch to get a complete non-stick result.

Can Non-Stick Pans Go in the Oven?

Now that we have explored the different types of “non-stick” materials you may come across, we can safely come to a verdict on whether non-stick pans can go in the oven or not. By now, you may have realized that the answer is very simple: it depends!

Firstly, as we have explained above, the term “non-stick” does not refer to one specific material. Your non-stick pan can be made out of any of the materials we’ve listed and their oven-safeness depends greatly on that. If your non-stick pan is PTFE-coated, it is not recommended to use it in the oven. However, some recently made PTFE-coated non-stick pans can be oven safe, due to the fact they’re manufactured using new technology. To be 100% sure, always check the box your pan came in for any indication that particular pan it’s oven safe.

Most ceramic-coated non-stick pans, on the other hand, are perfectly oven safe. As long as the product is of good quality and the coating is 100% ceramic, it should be able to handle extremely high temperatures.

Also, most modern enameled cast iron non-stick pans are oven safe. But it’s always a good idea to check the box that your product came in, or if you can’t find the box, check your manufacturer’s website for information regarding its oven safety.

Regular cast iron pans are oven safe as well,  regardless of whether they’re seasoned or not, as iron is very durable in higher temperatures.

Lastly, anodized aluminum-coated non-stick pans are also generally safe to use in the oven as long as there are no scratches on the surface to cause raw aluminum to be exposed to heat.

Our Takeaways

Now that you know what materials are used to coat non-stick pans, and whether non-stick pans can go in the oven or not, you can safely get to cooking your delicious meals.

Whether your non-stick pan can go in the oven or not relies on the material used for its manufacture. It’s generally not safe to use PTFE-coated non-stick pans in the oven. But the alternatives, such as ceramic-coated non-stick pans and enameled cast iron non-stick pans, are great options if you want the ability to use your non-stick pan in a more versatile way.

Just be sure to not use extremely high heat or use sharp, metal utensils, as both can damage the non-stick coating of your pan.

And lastly, let’s end with a reminder that even if the body of your non-stick pan is made out of oven-safe material, it’s still a good idea to check if the handles, the lid, or any other part is made out of plastic or any other material that can burn in the oven.

Can You Deep Fry With Olive Oil?

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Eating fried food frequently is bad for our health, but can you imagine a life without french fries? Me neither. We live in a world where fried food is part of many traditional cuisines, not to mention the fast-food industry. On top of that, it’s absolutely delicious! So, if we can’t (nor want to) avoid it, what can we do to feel less guilty about consuming it?

One solution is to use a healthier oil when frying, which is not a new idea. Ever since science linked fried food with cancer, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other scary health consequences, people have been trying to find a way to make deep-fried food healthier by changing the oil they cook with.

The obvious choice would be olive oil, more specifically extra virgin olive oil as it usually ranks in number one in almost every health list, and for a good reason! However, at the same time, for some reason olive oil has been labeled as cancerogenic and unsafe to cook with, especially to fry with. This was quite a buzz a few years ago, and as it seems, it’s still a source of confusion for many.

For this reason, today, we’ll try to shed light on the issue of deep-frying with olive oil. We’ll carefully examine all the data available and finally put to rest the ongoing dilemma of whether you can deep-fry with olive oil.

What Makes Deep Fried Food Unhealthy?

Let’s start from the very beginning. The key to understanding whether we can deep fry with olive oil is understanding what makes fried food unhealthy. Knowing this will help us understand whether and how the properties of different types of olive oil might make it a safety concern when heated – and in what situations this happens (deep frying, shallow frying, baking, etc).

Every once in a while you’ll hear someone say: “Fried food is bad for health!” Hey, that was the first sentence in our article. But have you ever wondered why deep-fried food, such as donuts are so bad? Short answer: several reasons.

First, deep-fried foods significantly increase caloric and fat intake. This is not necessarily bad on its own – it only becomes bad when we put it in context. To give you an example, one baked potato (~100 grams, no salt or oils) contains around 93 calories and no fat. The same serving of McDonald’s french fries contains roughly around 323 calories and 15.5 grams of fat (based on data from the USDA). The difference is staggering and it’s due to two things: cooking temperature and the addition of oil.

From this, we can conclude that even with seemingly small amounts of fried food, we can easily  exceed our daily nutritional requirements, which is a problem in the long run.

Second, deep-fried food is bad for health not just because it has a dense caloric profile, but because of certain chemicals and the high fat content – especially the notorious trans fats!

What are Trans Fats?

Trans fat, also called trans-unsaturated fatty acids or trans fatty acids are a type of unsaturated fat that naturally occurs in very small quantities in meat and milk fat. However, the biggest health concern is when we consume artificial trans fats, also known as industrial trans fats, that are created during hydrogenation – a process that turns liquid vegetable oils into semi-solid partially hydrogenated oil. This happens under very high temperatures (such as when deep-frying).

Now, there’s a lot of chemistry behind these processes, so to avoid getting lost in the technical jargon, let’s quickly sum up.

The really unhealthy ingredient in fried foods is the so-called artificial or industrial trans fats. They form through the process of hydrogenation which combines fat (read vegetable oil) with hydrogen. This makes unsaturated fatty acids in the oil-saturated. And, these are the fats that scientists link to all kinds of diseases or health risks. A lot of manufacturers add trans fats on purpose to prolong the shelf life of a product, hence we can find artificial trans fats in many processed foods.

But, why are some oils considered healthier than others if high cooking temperature (such as frying) leads to hydrogenation? Do different types of oil act differently under high temperatures?

That’s exactly right.

Cooking Stability (Oxidative Stability) of Oils

Let’s talk more about chemistry – this time about rancidification, or more specifically about oxidative stability (oxidative rancidification). This is the process of complete or incomplete oxidation or hydrolysis of fats and oils when they’re exposed to air, moisture, light, heat, etc.

But, don’t let the big words distract you because in reality, we’re talking about a very simple process – how stable are oils under high cooking temperatures. In other words, what temperatures can different oils withstand before they go rancid and start releasing bad chemicals? This can refer to the formation of trans fats (as mentioned already), but also other toxins.

There are a number of factors that impact an oil’s oxidative stability (cooking stability). These include:

  • number of antioxidants –  as the name suggests, antioxidants protect against oxidation. Oils with high antioxidant levels are considered healthier.
  • type and ratio of fats – there are different types of fat, and those who do not contain double bonds between its molecules are more resistant to heat. polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) are a type of fats with many double or more bonds which makes them prone to oxidation and breaking down. Oils high in PUFAs are usually not suitable for deep frying.
  • refinement process – refined oils are more prone to oxidation because refinement strips away their antioxidants and makes them more prone to oxidation. Cold-pressed extra virgin oils are much better than refined oils.

Side Note

Do not confuse oxidative stability with the smoke point. When exposed to heat, different oils start to produce a thin, continuous stream of bluish smoke at different temperatures. Therefore, the smoke point of an oil is the specific temperature at which the oil releases smoke. But, the smoke is not necessarily a bad thing, which is why it’s considered a poor indicator of the quality and suitability of the oil for cooking – contrary to popular belief. Oxidative stability is an indicator of how quickly an oil will start releasing harmful chemicals under high temperatures, which is considered a better predictor of quality.

Olive Oil Cooking Properties

Now that we have laid out the basics, let’s take a closer look at the nutritional profile of olive oil and see if it has what it takes to be suitable for deep frying. To contextualize the data and to be able to compare, we’ll include several other cooking oils as well.

Oil Type Fat: MUFA % Fat: PUFA % Fat: SAT % Oxidative stability (hrs)* Antioxidants
Extra Virgin Olive Oil 75 10 15 34 5972
Virgin Olive Oil 75 10 15 30 4949
Olive Oil (refined) 75 10 15 16 3281
Sunflower Oil 22 66 13 2.5 275
Avocado Oil 68 15 16 10 936
Coconut Oil 6 2 92 44 8
Canola Oil 63 32 8 11 327

Data from OliveWellnessInstitute.org

* higher oxidative stability means the oil is more resistant to oxidation and behaves better under high cooking temperatures.

Extra virgin olive oil is arguably the healthiest oil. It has an incredibly high antioxidant level and oxidative stability (very resistant to heat). On top of that, it has a relatively low percentage of PUFAs (double bond unsaturated fatty acids which are prone to oxidation).

But the thing is, extra virgin olive oil also comes with a high price tag. Sure, it’s good to have it as a salad dressing, but can households afford it for everyday cooking? The real question seems to be: “Should people splurge on extra virgin olive oil when deep frying?”

What Does Science Say?

Before we sum up everything and write our final verdict, let’s see what scientists have found in experimental studies.

In 2002, The European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology published a study that investigated the oxidative stability of virgin olive oil and other vegetable oils. The results showed that virgin olive oil has a high resistance to oxidative deterioration because of its triacylglycerol composition low in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and the high amount of phenolic antioxidants (mainly polyphenols and tocopherols). This confirms everything our explanations and initial observation that olive oil is a good candidate for deep frying.

Moreover, another study in the same journal that investigated the health benefits of heated cooking oils, concluded that virgin olive oil “has a remarkable thermal stability, but when a healthful effect is expected from the presence of phenolic compounds, heating has to be restricted as much as possible.” What this means is that virgin olive oil has the highest cooking stability when compared to other vegetable oils (sunflower, soybean, cottonseed oils, and a commercial blend specially produced for frying). However, if you want to fully enjoy all the health benefits of olive oil it is best to consume it unheated (as a dressing).

Even more good news comes from a study that looked at olive oil’s cooking stability under deep-frying conditions regardless of the commercial category chosen (extra virgin, virgin, or regular-refined olive oil). The results further gave support to the previous findings, concluding that olive oil is clearly resistant to deep-frying conditions.

Verdict: Can You Deep Fry With Olive Oil?

After reviewing what makes fried food unhealthy and what part oils play in that equation, we feel more confident making assumptions about the healthiness and suitability of oil under different conditions – such as deep-frying, baking, or using it cold (as a salad dressing). Hopefully, we helped you feel more confident about your cooking choices, too.

In short, our verdict is: yes, you can deep fry with olive oil!

In fact, it’s better to deep fry with olive oil, especially virgin or extra virgin olive oil, than with sunflower, avocado, coconut, soybean, or canola oil (some of the vegetable oils we compared with olive oil before).

However, knowing that you can deep fry with olive oil is not the same as making a decision to deep fry with olive oil. In the latter, you need to factor in other things such as affordability, taste, smell, and so on. But, if affordability is no issue and you want only the best, then you need to ask another question: What’s the healthiest oil for deep frying?”

In this article, we’ve concluded that olive oil is extremely healthy and suitable for deep frying, but is it the best? Let’s briefly discuss this before we conclude.

What Is the Healthiest Oil for Deep Frying?

Deep frying works by submerging the food completely in a very hot oil – one that’s usually at a temperature around 350–375°F (176–190°C).

If the temperature is too low, the oil will make the food too greasy. On the other hand, if the temperature is too hot, the oil might oxidize, releasing harmful chemicals and forming trans fat.

Therefore, to ensure that your food is cooked just right and is of good quality, you need to optimize the temperature and find a stable oil whose smoking point and oxidative stability are above your cooking temperature. Beyond this, you want an oil that has a high level of antioxidants and a low level of PUFAs. Which oils fit best within these conditions?

According to MedicalNewsToday and Healthline, olive oil and coconut oil are the two best choices for deep frying, both backing their claims with several studies.

Other healthy choices include avocado oil, canola oil, and peanut oil.

Conclusion

It has been demonstrated that olive oil is not only a good choice for deep frying but also the healthiest oil for cooking in general. This is backed not only by looking at the nutritional profile of olive oil (regardless of extraction and refinement methods) but also by studies that experimentally prove the benefits of using olive oil at high temperatures.

With this in mind, we believe that we can finally put the popular “olive oil is cancerogenic” myth behind us. If you want to make homemade french fries or donuts, olive oil is your friend, not your enemy.

However, whether you actually choose to use olive oil or not depends on several other factors such as affordability and taste. Because of this, we included a few other alternatives, so you can make a good decision.

That being said, deeply fried foods will still be an unhealthy choice when eaten frequently, so let them be an occasional guilty pleasure instead of an everyday meal choice.

How to Preheat an Air Fryer

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In this day and age, when more and more people are looking for healthier cooking alternatives, the air fryer has become a popular cooking appliance that emulates the results of deep-frying using just hot air and little to no oil.

The best thing about it is that everything can be air-fried – from prepackaged chicken wings and handmade French fries to roasted veggies and fresh-baked cookies.

There is, however, one thing you should do before cooking, and that’s preheating your air

fryer and today we’re here to help you learn how. But before we get into that, let’s first start with some air fryer basics.

The Process of Using an Air Fryer

Air fryers have a heating mechanism and a fan in the upper part of the inside. When you turn it on, heated air flows down and around the food in the fryer-style container. The quick hot air circulation allows the food to get crispy, as it’s similar to deep-frying but without the oil. The fact that you can get this result without all the grease makes the air fryer much healthier.

You can, if you wish to, add just a tiny bit of oil, like a few drops or a spoonful, to make the food even crispier.

Step-By-Step Guide on Using Your Air Fryer

If you’ve already purchased an air fryer, or you are on your way to do so, we believe our short and easy step-by-step explanation of how to operate it can give you more confidence in cooking with this appliance.

1. Fill the Basket With Food

There are different sizes of air fryers. The size determines the amount of food you can prepare and how many dishes you can make simultaneously. Open the basket, fill it with food, but don’t overfill it.

Circulating hot air around the food is how air fryers function. The circulation can be limited if you pack food too tightly, steaming the meal instead of crisping it properly, and the end result is that it will be cooked unevenly.

To be sure you don’t overfill the air fryer, don’t pack in all the food you can fit inside it. After you fill the basket with food, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of oil if you want. Although oil is not essential, it will aid in the crisping of the dish.

2. Decide on a Time and Temperature

Depending on the meal you’re preparing, air fryer baking time might range from 5 to 25 minutes.

3. Allow the Meal to Cook

To ensure the food crisps up evenly, you may need to rotate it halfway through the cooking process.

4. Keep It Clean

When you’re done cooking, don’t forget to clean your air fryer.

Why Do You Want to Preheat Your Air Fryer?

We’ll explore why with a simple example.

Let’s compare cooking with an air fryer with cooking on your kitchen stove or furnace.

For instance, you want to make fish or vegetables. When cooking on your stove, you will use a pan; if you use your furnace, you’ll use a pot.

With the first method, you don’t put your meat in a cold pan – you preheat the pan, make it sizzling hot, put some oil in it, and then throw in your meat or vegetables. Or, if you’re baking a delicious vegan casserole, you preheat the oven before you put the food in. That’s the way of cooking, and that’s how air fryers work, too!

The only time you shouldn’t preheat your air fryer is when warming up food leftovers or when baking bread that you can also bake in the oven. You place them in the oven and then check periodically if the bread is done baking or if the leftovers are heated.

But with most food, for instance, fries or chicken, you always preheat your air fryer. Luckily, the preheating only takes a couple of minutes, so it doesn’t cause any delays to your lunchtime preparation.

Types of Air Fryers

Even though there are various models of air fryers on the market, they can be divided into two main types: basket air fryers and convection oven air fryers.

A convection oven air fryer is a turbo oven with an installed air fryer. It makes air frying in your range a breeze with convection fans swiftly circulating heated air over the food, giving it a fine crisp.

A basket-type air fryer is a type that does exactly what it says – it cooks meals in a basket. The basket features a handle for convenient tossing/flipping of the dish at one or more intervals while cooking.

Air fryers can be further divided into digital, analog, and classic, and each of these is preheated differently. Let’s see how.

How to Preheat Your Air Fryer

You might have a robust digital air fryer, and if you put it to the highest setting, it will reach the temperature in two to three minutes. It’s fast and quick, way faster than a regular oven.

If you have the classic air fryer, that one is a little less powerful, but still, it will reach the desired temperature in a couple of minutes, and you’re ready to go.

Digital Air Fryer

Choose a temperature, and hit go. For example, say you want to preheat your air fryer to 50 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit). You only need to set the temperature and the air fryer will do its job. You’ll hear a beeping sound signaling that the appliance is preheated, and you’re ready to start cooking.

Analog Air Fryer

An analog air fryer features two LEDs – one is a temperature indicator and the other indicates that the power is on. You also have a knob for the timer. You can set the temperature and then turn the knob. Usually, this type of air fryer is really quiet, and although the tech is older, it works great.

Initially, the temperature indicator LED is green, and when the air fryer reaches the desired temperature, the green LED indicator will turn off, alerting you that it’s preheated.

Classic Air Fryer

The classic air fryer is the easiest to use. It will signalize when it’s preheated with a bell.

What Happens if I Don’t Preheat the Air Fryer?

If you don’t preheat your air fryer, a variety of problems might happen:

  • Cooking time will increase.
  • The food won’t get as crispy.
  • If you’re cooking in stages, the first batch will take longer to cook, and if you’re not careful, the following batches will burn.
  • The meal may be overcooked or undercooked.
  • Every air fryer has a unique wattage that warms up at a different rate.
  • Follow the instructions in the recipe; if you don’t, your dish might not turn out as planned.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I take the basket out of the air fryer while preheating it?

A: You should keep the basket in. Many models won’t even turn on if the basket isn’t in place.

Q: Can I use baking paper to preheat my air fryer?

A: No! Food is used to weigh down the baking paper, or they will burn while preheating.

Summary

Step-by-step guide on using your air fryer

  1. Fill the Basket With Food
  2. Decide on a Time and Temperature
  3. Allow the Meal to Cook
  4. Keep It Clean

Conclusion

Due to their convenience, speed, and method of cooking, air fryers are here to stay. In terms of preheating – think of this appliance like a stove that’s quicker and you can’t get wrong!

Most air fryers have their unique method of alerting us when it has reached the desired temperature.

Please be aware that you can also buy an air fryer that doesn’t come with this feature, so shop wisely!

Already have an air fryer? Share your favorite recipe with us! Looking to buy an air fryer? What type looks the most appealing to you?

Bon Appétit!

What Is Sausage Casing?

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You know the saying “you don’t want to know how the sausage is made?” Well, if you’re interested in making your own sausages, then the exact opposite is true. Making your own sausages can be enjoyable and gratifying, and choosing which ingredients to use is an important first step. It may surprise you to find that one of the most crucial ingredients to consider when making sausages is the casing. But what is sausage casing, and why is it so important?

What Is Sausage Casing?

Whereas the filler is the blend of meat and spices inside, the sausage casing, or sausage skin, is the casing that holds the inner filling of a sausage. 

Many people believe that the key to a good sausage is the casing, and there are a wide variety of options on the market today. These can be broken down into three primary categories: natural sausage casings, artificial sausage casings, and vegetarian sausage casings.

Natural casings are made from animal skins or intestines and come in a myriad of options. Although artificial casings can also be made from animal products, they are processed differently and come in both edible and inedible varieties. Finally, vegetarian options have hit the market at a time when interest in plant-based diets is increasing every day.

Let’s explore the different types of casings available, their traditional uses, and their pros and cons.

A Brief History of the Sausage

For centuries, the most common sausage casings have come from the intestines of animals. The earliest known example of humans eating animal intestines stuffed with meat – in other words, a sausage – likely dates back nearly 4,000 years, when the stomach of a goat was used by the Sumerians to hold cooked meat.

There are countless types of sausages from almost every culture and culinary tradition. In addition to being delicious, sausages use pieces of the animal that would otherwise go to waste. They are often smoked or preserved with salt, which means that they can last a long time without spoiling. For these reasons and more, sausages are one of the most enduring culinary staples around the world.

Natural Sausage Casings

Today, most sausage makers use a layer of the small intestine called the submucosa as their preferred sausage casing. The submucosa consists of collagen and, when used for making sausage casings, it’s referred to as a natural sausage casing.

Natural casings are the most traditional type of sausage casings and are still among the most popular. They vary widely in length and size, and they’re more porous than artificial casings, which allows for a richer, more intense flavor when smoked.

Natural casings enhance the flavors of the filling without adding too much flavor of their own, and many people prefer their texture to other kinds of casings. Their flexibility makes them easy to stuff, but they’re also very durable, meaning they won’t fall apart during smoking or other stages of processing.

Most natural casings come from pigs, but sheep, cow, and even horse intestines can be used.

Let’s explore the pros and cons of a few popular natural casings.

Sheep Casings

Sheep intestines are naturally smaller than pigs or horses and thus are generally preferred for smaller sausages, such as breakfast sausages or hot dogs. They’re very tender, and an all-around delicious option for a sausage casing. Their small size also makes them a good option for beginner sausage makers.

Pig Casings

Pig casings are the most common and, arguably, most popular option for natural casings.

They are traditionally used for making classic link sausages, such as Italian sausages and bratwursts, bologna, and smoked Polish sausages.

Beef Casings

Beef casings come in three sizes, each one corresponding to different parts of the cow intestine: beef rounds, beef bung caps, and beef middles. Each can be used for different types of sausages:

  • Beef rounds are low in fat and often used for blood sausages, a type of sausage made from animal blood and filler.
  • Beef middles are slightly thicker and thus are generally preferred for salami and other dry sausages.
  • Beef bung caps are made from the widest part of the cow’s intestine and are preferred for larger sausages such as bologna and capicola.

To prepare a natural casing, the submucosa has to be removed during slaughter, scraped, and flushed with water. While in the past this cleaning process needed to be carefully done by hand, today there are fortunately machines that do this. The cleaned, processed intestines are generally sold at butcher shops and in grocery stores, and a wide variety of gourmet options can also be bought online. Although instructions will vary, most natural casings will need to be soaked in cold water or brine before being filled.

Artificial Sausage Casings

These days, most commercially-produced sausages are made with artificial sausage casings. Artificial casings can be made from a wide variety of materials. They are generally stronger, less expensive, and more uniform than natural casings. They are also significantly longer than natural casings: collagen casings. For all of these reasons, artificial casings can be easier to work with, particularly for beginners.

Newer artificial casings can be made from cellulose, animal bones, fish, and even plastic, although these are not edible. Let’s take a look at a few of the different types of artificial sausage casings available on the market today.

Collagen Casings

Collagen is a natural substance found in the connective tissue of animals and is the same material found in the intestines used for natural sausage casings. However, artificial collagen casings are usually made from processed cow or pig hides. They’re a relatively new option – they’ve only been in use for the past sixty years – and are generally less expensive than natural casings.

They can be more ‘user-friendly’, because they are uniform in size and can be bought in packages and used without any extra processing or cleaning. All of these factors may make them preferable over natural casings for many people making homemade sausages.

They are also becoming the preferred option for commercial manufacturing because they can be standardized and produced for a much lower cost.

However, their texture is less ‘snappy’ than natural casings, which can come as a disappointment to anyone looking for a more traditional sausage. Further, different types of artificial casings will have different flavors, which may not work with every type of filling. It’s worth taking the time to do the research and see which type of casing will work best for your purposes.

Cellulose Casings

Cellulose casings are made from viscose, a material made by soaking wood pulp or cottonseed fibers. They’re not edible and should be peeled off after the sausage has been cooked.

Cellulose casings are good for making hot dogs, chorizo, and smoked sausages. This is because they’re permeable, which allows the smoky flavors to fully sink in during the smoking process.

Fibrous Casings

Created in the 1930s, fibrous sausage casings are inedible. They’re made from a mixture of viscose and filament paper and are excellent for larger sausages that need to be held together by firm casings. They are one of the strongest casing options and can allow for a uniform look that isn’t possible with natural casings. Just don’t eat them!

Plastic Casings

Plastic casings are, for obvious reasons, also inedible. They’re generally made from layered nylon and, like fibrous casings, offer durability and give your sausages a uniform look. They are particularly popular for commercial sausage production but can be used for making sausages at home, too.

Although there are some smokeable options on the market, most plastic casings are impermeable and thus generally not a good option for making smoked sausages.

Vegetarian Sausage Casings

Studies have shown that cutting meat and dairy products out of your life is the most impactful way to reduce your environmental impact. With many people concerned about their carbon footprint, it’s not surprising that the popularity of plant-based and vegan meat substitutes is skyrocketing.

Sausage is a classic meat-lovers favorite, and fortunately for vegetarians, there are now a variety of meatless and even vegan sausage casings on the market. In addition to being made from plant-based ingredients, they are a much healthier alternative to natural or artificial sausage casings.

All vegetarian casings are edible and – unlike many varieties of natural or artificial casings – they can be made halal and kosher-friendly. The primary ingredients are vegetable glycerin, sugar, and natural starches, and non-GMO options are available.

Vegetarian sausage casings can be homemade or purchased in specialty stores, although you’re unlikely to find them at your local butcher. Unlike natural casings, which are determined by the animal’s unique anatomy, vegetarian sausage casings can be made to any desired length or width. Instructions will vary based on the brand, but all vegetarian sausage casings can be stuffed with whatever filling you desire.

The Big Picture

If all of these options feel overwhelming, don’t worry! Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, making your own sausages should be a fun learning experience.

Natural sausage casings are made from the intestines of animals, usually sheep, pigs, and cows. These range in size, texture, and width according to the anatomy of the animal they came from. They’re the most traditional option for sausage making, with the technique dating back thousands of years. Some of the pros of natural casings include a superior ‘snap’ texture when bitten, and a porousness that allows for delicious flavor when making smoked sausages.

On the other hand, natural casings can be more difficult to work with, especially for beginners. They are not uniform in size or shape, and thus are often not preferred for commercial manufacturing, either.

There are a wide variety of artificial sausage casings. These include edible options, such as collagen and cellulose casings, and inedible, firmer options, such as plastic and fibrous casings. While the specificities of artificial casings vary based on their type, in general, they are more standardized in size and shape and are easier to work with for beginners.

On the negative side, they are less traditional than natural casings, and many say that they lack the signature, delicious texture of a natural sausage casing.

And speaking of nontraditional, the newest and perhaps most surprising option available on the market is vegetarian sausage casings. These are made from plant-based glycerin and sugars and can accommodate dietary restrictions including kosher and halal lifestyles.

Now that you know how the sausage gets made, it’s time to go out and find the best casing for your sausage-making needs.

Types of Coffee Beans

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As you descend into the deeper circles of coffee enthusiasm, you start picking up on things beyond the basic tag of coffee. Whether you’re ordering beans or ground blends online, or simply perusing the aisles of a specialty coffee shop, you’ve most likely come across the words Arabica or Robusta. This tells you that not all coffee is equal, and in fact – the coffee plant genus has several popular varieties and over 100 species worldwide.

This time around, we’ll focus on the two most popular and widely available types of coffee beans: Arabica and Robusta. These two types of beans have different flavor profiles, caffeine contents, and ultimately – prices – which may influence your decision next time you’re shopping for coffee. You may also come across some blends of these coffee types which are meant to offer you the taste of one species with a sweetened price thanks to the affordability of another species. But more on this later – let’s get to it!

The Two Most Common Types of Coffee Beans

Let’s look at the two most common types of coffee beans. Keep in mind that other than the species, the origin country of the bean also has an effect on the resulting flavor profile. The other 100 or so varieties of coffee are quite a bit rarer, so we’ll leave them for another occasion.

1. Coffea Arabica

Origins and production

Coffea Arabica is the most popular coffee bean on the market, and it accounts for nearly 60% of coffee production on a global scale. This species is likely to have been the first detected and cultivated coffea plant, with its first being documented in the 12th century and found in Yemen, the holy origin land of coffee. Today, Arabica plants are grown all over the world, and mainly in Latin America. Columbia produces exclusively Arabica beans, while Brazil is the biggest exporter of Arabica coffee globally.

Taste

Arabica is the most popular coffee bean because it hits the sweet spot between flavor, acidity, and caffeine content. The flavor profile of a specific Arabica bean will vary depending on the region it comes from and the variety. Still, it’s considered to be quite rich in taste with subtle notes that pop and result in a beautiful, full-bodied cup of coffee.

In general, Arabica beans have a milder, sweeter taste than the second most popular coffee bean, Robusta, and usually carry notes of fruit and berries. What fruits and berries accompany the flavor depends on the origin. For instance, Arabica beans from Sumatra oftentimes have hints of rose and dark chocolate. On the other hand, a lot of Arabica blends that come from Kenya have hints of orange blossom, butterscotch, and fig.

While Robusta beans are more bitter, Arabica beans have more of a pronounced acidity. This gives the coffee a somewhat wine-like dimension. Still, when you’re buying Arabica beans, look for a blend that’s not too acidic, as it can dominate the taste in a not-so-pleasant way.

Arabica is less bitter than Robusta because it has lower caffeine content. While Arabica beans contain about 0.8 – 1.4% of caffeine, the percentage doubles with Robusta beans, which contain 1.7- 4% of caffeine.

Arabica on the Market

As we’ve mentioned, Arabica beans are the world’s favorite coffee due to their flavor and quality. This also makes them more expensive than Robusta beans or Arabica-Robusta blends. Another reason that Arabica beans are pricier is that they’re much more sensitive and prone to disease than Robusta, so they take more care and produce a lower yield. This can mainly be attributed to the lower caffeine content in Arabica beans, as caffeine is a natural insect repellent.

Of course, within the Arabica world, there’s also a hierarchy of taste, quality, and price. For instance, the Hawaiian Kona coffee – a special Hawaiian Arabica strain – is one of the most desired and expensive types of bean on the market.

Drinking Arabica

We especially recommend using Arabica beans if you like your coffee black. While sometimes adding a splash of milk can add to the flavor (especially if it’s a dark roast), drinking this coffee black may help you fully appreciate its flavor palette.

2. Coffea Robusta (Coffea Canephora)

Origin and production

The second most popular subspecies of the coffee bean is Coffea robusta or just Robusta. This coffee bean accounts for about 40% of the global coffee market – so, as you’ve probably realized, Arabica and Robusta dominate the global coffee market. It’s also quite adequately named, as it’s robust and resilient to different conditions.

As we’ve mentioned, it has over twice the caffeine content of Arabica beans, which makes it a formidable foe to disease and insects. Because the Robusta crop produces a higher yield than Arabica and can persevere in less than ideal conditions, it’s also quite cheaper. Robusta beans have their origins in central and sub-Saharan Africa, and today they’re grown in the Eastern Hemisphere, mostly in Africa and Indonesia. Brazil and India produce both Arabica and Robusta beans.

Taste

As Robusta has twice the caffeine content of Arabica, it also has a more bitter taste. So while you’d find Arabica to have acidic overtones, Robusta is on the bitter side.

This bean is generally considered to be of lower quality than Arabica due to the harsher flavor profile. Overall, the taste of Robusta coffee is stronger, with grainy overtones, and has been characterized as having a bit of rubbery, burnt taste. As milder flavors are preferred in most coffee markets, Robusta is bumped further down the commodity scale. It’s only preferred in cultures that enjoy strong coffee. Most instant coffee and mass-produced, cheap, commercial beans are made of Robusta.

There are some exceptions, however. While you won’t be able to find high-quality Robusta beans in a regular market or convenience store, some specialty coffee shops offer exactly that. These are usually single-origin, craft coffees that offer tasty Robusta beans with overtones of rum and chocolate.

Robusta on the Market

As it’s much easier to grow, produces higher yields, and isn’t too popular for its taste – Robusta is much cheaper than Arabica.

Still, there’s a way to kind of get the best of both worlds and strike the right balance between cost and taste. You can easily find blends that are about 70% Arabica and 30% Robusta which carry the overall taste of Arabica with some hints of Robusta, and cost less. This especially works with dark roasts. But we did say kind of, and that’s because if you’re finicky about flavor, you will notice the difference.

Drinking Robusta

If you decide to go for Robusta or a Robusta-Arabica blend, the best way to cut the bitterness is to add some sugar and frothed milk or cream. A good, single-origin Robusta bean also goes great for espresso and espresso-based beverages.

Also, if you’re just looking for a quick caffeine fix to keep you up as you head to work with a bit of hangover, Robusta will do just fine. It will give you the kick you need to really wake up.

Honorable Mentions: Liberica and Excelsa

Liberica and Excelsa coffee beans are quite rare and account for a small part of the global coffee production. Still, their flavor profiles are unique, and should you incidentally come across either of them, you’d do well to give them a try.

Liberica

Liberica coffee beans were originally produced on a large scale in the Philippines during a coffee “plague” called coffee rust that drastically damaged the Arabica population during the 19th century. The Philippines stepped out by mass-producing this tasty coffee bean strain. However, due to economic sanctions by the US (basically a neo-imperialist punishment to the Philippines for declaring independence from the US), this type of coffee bean quickly passed its heyday.

In any case, Liberica beans have an excellently unique flavor, with woody notes. It also has hints of flowers and fruits, with a smoky aroma.

Excelsa

Excelsa is actually a subspecies of the Liberica family, but it has a unique flavor that grants it a unique place in the world of coffee. These beans are generally grown in Southeast Asia and take up only 7% of global coffee production. While it’s rare to get purely Excelsa beans, they’re found in blends for an elevated flavor.

The taste of Excelsa can be characterized as being tarty and fruity.

A Few Words Before You Go…

Now you know what to expect from the different types of coffee beans available on the market. Keep in mind that to get the best tasting cup of coffee, you need freshly ground beans.

Different Types of Coffee Makers

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Coffee is the staple drink of every morning routine. Well, nearly every morning routine – a 2018 study published by the National Coffee Association reported that 64% of Americans drink coffee, and 79% of those coffee drinkers brew coffee at home. And this year – 2020 – is pretty much the year of staying at home (because you know, coronavirus), so if you weren’t brewing coffee in the comfort of your kitchen before, you’re probably doing it now.

There are quite a few perks of brewing your own coffee. At the very least, it helps save money. But coffee connoisseurs say that the trend with coffee these days is all about taste. It’s less about getting a kick out of your bed in the morning, and more about enjoying the drink. And with so many affordable, readily available coffee makers out there, drinking instant coffee is slowly becoming a thing of the past. Not to mention that one of the biggest instant coffee producers in the world – Nescafé – is owned by Nestle, a company that has a long, long list of transgressions against nature and humanity.

In any case, we’re here to introduce you to the four most popular types of coffee makers that can help you get a beautiful cup of java in the comfort of your home. We’ll go over the pros and cons of each coffee maker so that you can decide which one is the best choice for you depending on your lifestyle, budget, and taste.

1. Drip Coffee Makers

Let’s start off with the classics, and nothing is more contemporary Americana than drip coffee makers. Drip coffee makers can be found in homes, hotels, motels, offices, support groups… Their popularity can easily be attributed to their ease of use, consistent results, and ability to produce a big batch of coffee with minimal effort on your part.

Drip coffee makers are also quite versatile in terms of quantity – you can get one that brews anything between one and fourteen cups of coffee.

How does it work?

Drip coffee makers work using electricity. You plug the machine in, fill up the filter tray with ground coffee, fill up the water pitcher with water, and set the carafe on the heating plate. All that’s left for you to do is to press the start button and wait for your coffee to brew. A shower head at the top drips the hot water into the coffee grounds, allowing it to extract them before it passes into the carafe ready to drink.

Pros:

A drip coffee maker is affordable, easy to use, and produces consistent results.

Cons:

There’s not a lot of variety in taste as far as the brewing process goes, but you can get some variety switching up the beans you use.

Another drawback is that if the carafe sits on the heating plate for too long, the coffee may start tasting a bit burnt.

We recommend it for:

Families, homes, offices, and entertaining. Instead of sitting at the stovetop, babysitting your brew while your guests wait in the living room, you can let the machine do it for you.

2. Espresso Machines

Espresso machines can bring the full coffee shop experience to your home. If you’re an avid espresso lover, you may find the effort and additional cost that come with an espresso machine well worth the cup of full-bodied, rich, tasty espresso brew.

An espresso machine offers a lot of versatility, as you can recreate coffee shop specials like Americano, macchiato, cortado, and so on. If your espresso machine doesn’t come with a frothing wand, you can get your own milk frother to get that beautiful cream which is the signature ingredient in espresso-based beverages like cappuccino.

Espresso is usually made with dark roasts and fine grinds, which results in a concentrated, rich cup of coffee.

How does it work?

Espresso machines are electric-powered. There are different types you can choose from, which vary the level of labor that will be necessary on your part. You can decide between manual, semi-automatic, automatic, to super-automatic. The way they work is by heating water to a high temperature and allowing it to pass through a metal filter cup filled with pressed coffee grounds at quite a high pressure.

Pros:

Espresso machines can help you get consistently delicious, rich cups of espresso.

They also allow a lot of versatility to recreate coffee shop specials.

Plus, a lot of them come with a frothing wand.

Cons:

Espresso machines are usually quite a bit pricier than other coffee makers.

Other drawbacks of manual espresso machines are that they’re quite labor-intensive and require some technical knowledge.

We recommend it for:

Espresso enthusiasts and those who appreciate bold, rich-tasting coffee.

3. Pour-Over Coffee Makers

Pour-over coffee makers are a simple yet delicate way to produce a custom cup of coffee that’s per your taste. Pour-over coffee makers consist simply of a cup with holes on the bottom, which you can place over any mug or carafe to make as much coffee as you want.

Taste-wise, pour-over coffee makers generally produce a delicious, full-bodied cup of java.

How does it work?

Pour-over coffee makers generally consist of a cup with a base that’s meant to go on top of mugs or carafes, and holes at the bottom that allow the coffee to pass through to the container below. The cup-shaped coffee maker has a cone-shaped funnel in which you place a paper filter and fill it up with medium ground coffee. Then, you slowly add water to the pour-over coffee maker in several phases. The first pour is meant to allow the coffee grounds to bloom, i.e. to activate them and extract the initial flavor. The following gentle pours are meant to finish the coffee grounds’ brewing process.

Pros:

Pour-over coffee makers are generally simple to use – although it’s important to take note of the series of pours to get the optimal taste of the coffee. They’re also quite compact and thus easy to travel with.

These coffee makers are also quite affordable.

Plus, they offer versatility when it comes to the amount of coffee you want to make.

Cons:

Making pour-over coffee is a process. It takes a hands-on approach on your part, and may require more time than some other coffee makers to brew the coffee.

We recommend it for:

Pour-over coffee enthusiasts and those who need a single cup of coffee at a time.

4. Moka Pots

Moka pots are my go-to method when I want a rich, full-bodied cup of coffee that gets as close to an espresso as possible without actually using an espresso machine. Although it’s not as dark as an espresso, a Moka pot will give you a thick, deeply dark cup of delicious coffee that’s also made on the principle of using high-pressure to extract the coffee grounds.

Moka pots are one of the most affordable coffee makers you can get your hands on, and you can also use them to make espresso-based drinks like lattes and macchiatos.

Depending on the capacity of the Moka pot you buy, you’ll be able to create anywhere from one cup to twelve cups of coffee.

How does it work?

Moka pots work with stovetops or gas burners. They contain three chambers: the bottom chamber is filled with water, and the middle chamber (a metal filter) is filled with coffee grounds. As the water in the bottom chamber heats up, it generates steam. The pressure from the steam causes the hot water in the bottom chamber to travel up through the middle chamber where the coffee is, and extract it. Finally, it travels through a tube into the top chamber, where you get your lovely, piping hot, finished brew.

Pros:

Moka pots are quite eco-friendly – they don’t create any waste other than used coffee grounds (which you can always find uses for!).

Overall, Moka pots produce a consistently good cup of coffee and they’re a great, much cheaper alternative to espresso makers.

Lastly, they work pretty fast – so you won’t have to wait too long for your coffee to be ready.

Cons:

A Moka pot should be cleaned regularly, which can be a bit of a hassle considering it has three parts. To be fair, you should regularly clean any coffee maker you decide to get (or already own).

We recommend it for:

Anyone looking for an espresso alternative or a richly deep cup of coffee.

We also highly recommend it to campers – with a Moka pot, you’ll have coffee anywhere you go.

A Few Words Before You Go…

Hopefully, you enjoyed our guide to the most popular coffee makers you can get for your home. Depending on your taste, budget, or how much effort you’re willing to put it, you can decide which one’s right for you. And don’t forget – every perfect cup of coffee starts with freshly ground beans!

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