Benefits of a Bain Marie
It’s not just for dishes anymore! The bain-marie can be used in the kitchen to keep food warm or to cook foods that require slow cooking, such as soups, sauces, and stocks. In the lab, the bain-marie is a double boiler where glassware is heated from below with water.
A bain-marie, which means “warm bath” in French, consists of a container placed inside another container containing a heat source and at least enough water to cover it.
Often this kind of double boiler will have an additional insulating material around the outer pot filled with hot water if extra temperature stability is needed for delicate experiments or tasks.
How does a bain-marie help you accomplish these things? By removing the outer pot from direct contact with the heat source you allow it to maintain a steady temperature that will stay constant even as its contents change, such as in stove-top applications. This allows food to be heated more evenly and prevents spills or splatters.
Stainless steel bain maries. Oftentimes when using a bain-marie, one of the containers will be heated while the other is depressurized. The outer container’s temperature can then rise above boiling and maintain its effectiveness at cooking while keeping its contents stable and safe to consume.
Using a bain-marie can reduce spattering, sloshing, and splatters in cooking.
Though some may use a bain-marie to keep foods warm while traveling, it is more commonly used in restaurant kitchens as well for several reasons.
First of all, combining heating methods creates a more even temperature distribution and therefore more consistent results. Additionally, the outside water acts to cool the inner pot’s contents sufficiently to prevent food from burning or scorching.
This can be extremely important when working with food items that are stored at room temperature or are very sensitive to heat, such as meats or chocolate.
Similarly, in the lab, a bain-marie is used to heat glassware or equipment that reacts to temperature changes (and can’t be heated directly with an open flame or heat source) by placing it within the double boiler.
In order for the most efficiency in the lab and in the kitchen, it is usually best to use stainless steel for the inner pot and silicone or rubber for the outer pot.
This will ensure that heat is distributed evenly and won’t scratch or damage either container. Choosing containers of similar size will also help maintain a more even temperature distribution throughout.
There are many instances in the kitchen that require a bain-marie, so it’s a good idea to have one on hand.
A bain-marie can be found in both the kitchen and laboratory. Here are some of its uses:
1. Double boiler: Outer pot holds the heat
The bain-marie is useful in the kitchen because it allows you to heat foods evenly without burning or scorching them. This can prevent spattering and sloshing due to a poor seal on the lid of a pot.
It is perfect for cooking foods such as soups, sauces, and stocks that require slow cooking at temperatures below boiling point. The outer pot is made from glass and allows the water that is inside the bain-marie to circulate. At temperatures lower than boiling, it will become cooler than this.
2. Thermal bottling: Using concentrates
If you have an ice cream concentrate that is stored at room temperature, placing it within a bain-marie will increase its shelf life and prevent it from crystallizing before use. This is likely to be necessary if you want to take the ice cream on a trip with you.
3. Making candy
There are many candies that can be made using a double boiler. They are usually made with chocolate, which can become very hot if it is allowed to come into contact with an open flame or heat source. When making candies, the pot within the bain-marie should be filled with water so that it surrounds the outer container. This will allow the contents of the inner pot to be heated gently without burning them or scorching them. The most popular candies that use this method include fudge and fondant-based candies.
4. Making jellies and syrups
Most jellies and syrups are made with sugar, which can burn or scorch easily. The bain-marie allows you to mix the ingredients together within a pot so that you don’t have to worry about them burning while the shape is being formed, or once it has been cooled and has been placed in a freezer for later use.
5. Heating food without damaging nutrients
This is particularly important when cooking organically because many of the nutritional components of food will be damaged by high temperatures. A bain-marie allows you to heat foods gradually until they are just warm rather than keeping them at a constant temperature.