How to caramelize food

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How to caramelize food. Caramelizing food is a fancy word for “browning”. In order to get the perfect color and flavor of vegetables, baked goods, and even peanuts, here is how to caramelize.

Here are a few simple steps to caramelize any food and a quick recipe for caramelized onions you can easily adapt to any ingredient.

We’ve all heard the chefs on television say, “To get the best flavor, let those onions caramelize." And If you’re like me, you might have thought that they meant for the onions to suddenly taste like the chewy candy we all know and love. Actually, the process is much more scientific.

Caramelization is a fancy word for “browning”. In order to get the perfect color and flavor of vegetables, baked goods, and even peanuts, recipes call for you to caramelize.

Here are a few simple steps for caramelizing an onion

Note: you can use the steps with any food you wish to caramelize; but keep in mind that the higher the sugar content, the faster the ingredient will caramelize.

Ingredients:
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • dash of sugar (optional)
  • 1/4 cup of water, wine or broth

Directions:
  1. Slice off top and bottom of onion. Cut in half, then peel off outer layer of onion
  2. Place half of the onion flat-side down and slice in half-rings. The thickness of the onion slices are up to you, but remember that thinner slices will cook faster
  3. Place skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to skillet
  4. When oil begins to ripple, the skillet is hot enough
  5. Add the onions and stir until all slices are completely coated with oil
  6. Throw in a pinch of salt, pepper and sugar to speed up the caramelization process. The salt will absorb the moisture from the onion and evaporate
  7. Continue to stir the onions
  8. After about a minute, the onions will begin to stick to the bottom of the pan and turn brown (don’t panic, this is what is supposed to happen!)
  9. Allow the onions to turn darker and darker. Use your own discretion and add a 1/4 cup of water, wine or broth to the bottom of the pan when the onions are sticking “too much”. This part of the process is called "deglazing"
  10. Continue to stir until onions have reached the color, taste and texture that you desire

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