I'll bet you all did. Last week an email was going around titled "Why didn't I think of that?" It was handy household hints and one of them was, "To keep a pot from boiling over, lay a wooden spoon across the open top." I tried it as I am always having something boil over, even though I have those little ceramic discs supposed to prevent it. Well, the wooden spoon (unvarnished, of course) works like a dream! Food cooks faster because somehow the heat stays in the water, but no bubbling over, not even close! I totally do not understand the physics behind this, but I'll bet it is an old, old concept. If my grandma knew it, she never told me.
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I know about the oil or Pam trick and why, but hadn't heard the spoon trick.
The reason oil works is because the bubbles need to climb on something. It's the same reason you have to be careful about heating water in a micro wave.
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I've done the oil thing for years, but invariably it aerosolizes and a fine mist gets on cabinets and other surfaces. I boil chicken tenders for our dogs and I don't want any oil with them, and that's when I've had the most problem with boil-overs. I'd get busy doing something else and look the other way and oops!
With the wooden spoon, it's so interesting to watch. The water stays clear, there is not the turbulence and big bubbles at the surface. The chicken cooks in half the time. I just have the cheap wooden spoon with the dowel handle, too, nothing with a wide handle. DH says he can see that the steam is aero-dynamically redirected to the pot instead of going up. Um, okay. I guess that is probably true because another plus is that the room doesn't get as humid. Whatever the reason, I sure like this handy hint.
Not sure which came first, the wooden spoon or a green twig.
I learned as a youngster, when camping 50+ years ago, to put a fresh green twig from a tree across the coffee pot on the fire to prevent boil overs.
See, I KNEW that was an old timey trick. Now DH remembers that his mom used to lay the wooden spoon across the pot while beans cooked, but he assumed she was just resting it there. His Mom was born in 1906. Bet she learned that from her granny.