Monday, October 10, 2011

Questions: What options are there for double boilers?

Quite a few people have written to me to ask about double boilers. The reason for using one? It's easier to control the temperature when we have our jug immersed in water as opposed to having all the ingredients in a pot on top of an element. There won't be any sharp changes in temperature - for instance, when you turn the element to high or low - because the water has to be heated, then our ingredients, so you're less likely to burn or overheat the ingredients.

You all know about my love of the electric fondue pot (here's a link to the manual for the one I own), but you don't have to get a special appliance to have a good double boiler. You can create one by putting water in a larger pot, then putting a smaller heat resistant container in it.

Create one on your stove top. A canning jar or big pot - like the one you see filled with crab legs costs about $15 at your local megamart - can make a great double boiler! Fill with a goodly amount of water, add your heat resistant container, and you've got yourself a double boiler!

If you don't have access to a stove in your workshop, you can go out and buy a plug-in double burner (I think they might be called a hot plate in some places) and create a double boiler in it with a pot and a jug/another pot. Or buy a crock pot.

The process of heating and holding is an essential part of making any product that might contain water. If you can't heat and hold for some reason - you don't have the equipment, you don't have the time, you don't think it necessary - perhaps making lotions, shampoos, conditioners, and other water containing ingredients isn't for you. I would normally never say something like that, but I'm continually confused as to why this process is considered optional and is even fought about in some circles! (Not physically, as we bath & body makers are a peaceful bunch, but I can see a time when there might be a heating & holding Thunderdome type situation, perhaps after the zombie apocalypse). There are so many good reasons, and - in my humble opinion - no bad reasons for heating and holding, and I encourage this process for everyone who wants to adhere to good manufacturing processes.

Join me tomorrow for another post on some topic - I haven't decided yet, to be honest, as I've still got a sugar/sushi hangover from Raymond's birthday lunch yesterday! So much sushi, so much cake, so much fun! Ooh, I think there's some left! To the kitchen I must go!


Nedeia said...

Dear Susan (and Readers, or course),

I am investigating the crock pot market (online). Most of them have 2 temp settings. Are there crock pots where you can specify that you want a specific temperature? which brands?


Anonymous said...

Dear Susan,

I use collapsible metal steamer baskets to rig up a double boiler system. The middle metal post is removable in the smaller and larger styles I have and these are perfect for using my glass measuring cups. I got these at Kitchen Stuff Plus in Toronto (they also sell products on-line). You can then just use a large stainless steel stock pot or a canning pot.

I originally used a double boiler ring from Foxrun but this corroded even though it is a metal. I think it was some type of alloy. The metal steamer baskets are a good quality s/s so this does not occur.