High Altitude Cooking

by Lee Wyatt
(last updated March 31, 2014)

Cooking at high altitudes can be frustrating to the beginning and experienced cook alike. There are some completely different skill sets that need to be learned for cooking at high altitudes as compared to cooking at sea level. With a little for knowledge, the next time you go visit Great Aunt Mildred in the Rockies, you will be able to properly turn out your favorite dish.

  • Cooking time. At higher altitudes it will take more time for your food to cook. Water does boil a whole lot more quickly when compared to sea level. However since it boils at a lower temperature, because of lower air pressure, so plan on an additional five minutes of cooking time for every 5,000 feet above sea level.
  • Reduce leavening. In contrast to boiling water, cakes and breads will rise quicker at higher altitudes. When a cake rises too fast, it runs the risk of running out of the gasses that help it to rise, which leads to a cake that is coarse, sunken and completely unappetizing. When you reach 5,000 feet you need to decrease the content of your leavening agent by up to 25%. Above 7,000 feet you will need to decrease it by more than that, roughly another 5% for every additional 1,500 feet you go up in altitude.
  • Increase flower and moisture. For every 3,000 feet in altitude you need to add an additional tablespoon of flour and liquid. Doing this helps ensure that your baked goods are nice and moist, and do not become too dry when getting cooked.
  • Increase temperature. If you are cooking or baking above 5,000 feet, then you need to increase your cooking temperature by 25 degrees Fahrenheit. This helps reduce the risk of baked goods rising too fast and your other types of food not getting cooked enough.
  • Reduce oil temperature. When deep-frying foods, you definitely want to have an even distribution of that nice "golden" color that is so attractive in things like donuts and French fries. To ensure even cooking and even distribution of color, reduce the temperature of the cooking oil by 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Reduce sugar. Another important ingredient to reduce is sugar. If you are cooking around 5,000 feet you will need to reduce your sugar by about 2 tablespoons, and by 3 tablespoons when cooking around 6,500 feet.
  • Watch mixing. For some reason, when cooking at higher altitudes it is easier for ingredients to be mixed. This means that you will need to pay attention to any mixing that you might be doing. Ensure that you don't "over mix" your ingredients. Pay attention to not only the time that a recipe may ask for in regards to mixing, but the description of the end results as well.
  • Eggs. A common ingredient for baking is eggs. If your recipe calls for eggs, add one extra large egg. This will ensure that your recipe will not dry out and will, in fact, be nice and moist.

Author Bio

Lee Wyatt

Contributor of numerous Tips.Net articles, Lee Wyatt is quickly becoming a regular "Jack of all trades." He is currently an independent contractor specializing in writing and editing. Contact him today for all of your writing and editing needs! Click here to contact. ...

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