How to cook without condensation?
October 29, 2014 1:53 PM   Subscribe

Condensation pours down walls if I try and cook stews, risottos or even boil pasta in my small kitchen even with the (tiny) window and/or extractor fan on maximum. Can't get cooker hood vented to outside. How can I adapt my cooking to keep condensation to a minimum?
posted by janecr to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
A lateral answer - I have a bathroom that's fully tiled and gets heavy condensation. So I use a Karcher Window Vac to suck up the moisture from the walls and shower enclosure. It takes 30 seconds and it's made a huge difference. So if you can't stop the condensation from forming, the window vac will suck it away very quickly from the walls and kitchen cabinets.
posted by essexjan at 1:56 PM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've had this problem in studios before. There is, unfortunately, no way to adapt the cooking to keep the condensation to a minimum, you kind of need to focus on extracting that moisture from the air.

My solution was a littleā€¦er, extreme. I used an industrial style blower, rigged up to an extension cord, and all of that was mounted on a board with a hole in it, which was secured into the nearest window possible. Eventually, I added some flexible ducting from the blower (it ran above-ish a shelf, so you didn't really see it) over near the stove. The blower alone helped a ton, but the blower and duct worked even better. This is sort of just a DIY hood.

A blower moves much more air than a fan does. Fans don't really seem to create good suction.
posted by furnace.heart at 2:04 PM on October 29, 2014

Do you cook with a lid on the pot? If not, try that.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 2:04 PM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

I have this issue in my no good very bad rental kitchen, too. Condensation is actually serious business that can ruin walls over time and lead to mold growth, ugh. Some things I do:

- Set up a box or window fan to force air out the window. If the window is just open (and if you have no cross-ventilation) you're just lowering the temperature of the room and encouraging condensation to form.
- Limit escaping steam - keep lids on or mostly on boiling pots. Most simmered/braised things can be cooked successfully in the oven. Things like risotto can't be helped, but you might try cooking most of your meals low and slow (in a self-contained slow cooker) or hot and fast (in a wok or other pot designed to cook quickly).
- Turn up the heat in your kitchen/house and/or run a dehumidifier.
- Wipe down cold spots like windows as necessary; consider replacing your windows to better-insulated ones if that's an option.
posted by peachfuzz at 2:15 PM on October 29, 2014

For stews, risotto, and other moist/braised items, have you tried using a pressure cooker? It still puts some steam into the air, but you are cooking for a much shorter time so hopefully less steam than having an open pot simmering for an hour.
posted by cabingirl at 2:18 PM on October 29, 2014 [3 favorites]

It may not seem like they do much, but I tell you, a Damp Rid makes a big difference. It's a big tub o'dessicant that pulls the moisture out of the air and shunts it into a reservoir, and you just empty it into the sink when it gets full. They're fairly inexpensive, and you can pick up refills of the dessicant packs at hardware stores or even order them online through like Amazon or Target.

If you get one of the units designed for a larger room that may be strong enough to cope with "stews in a small kitchen".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:31 PM on October 29, 2014

I do a lot of stews and braises in the winter, and my pressure cooker has helped a great deal in reducing condensation in my tiny shipboard galley. Overall it uses less gas too, so that's less water vapor to deal with.
posted by Kakkerlak at 3:26 PM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Perhaps just turning down the flame under the pot will help. Most dishes don't have to boil vigorously. You can go too far though. If there is only a tiny sign of boiling, chances are most of the pot is way below the boiling point.
posted by SemiSalt at 3:34 PM on October 29, 2014

Turn the heat down when you're cooking. Running on high and cooking your pasta at a rolling boil drives a ton of steam, but the pasta tastes just fine if you're just at a bare simmer. Bring water to a near-boil on high, with the lid on, and dump the pasta in just as it's stating to really boil. Cold pasta means it stops boiling, you cut the heat down to 60-70% or so, put the lid back on, and over the next minute or so, it returns to a simmer, you time it, and take it off the heat. By cutting the heat down, you're not only generating less steam, but educing the amount of foam, meaning you can keep the lid on, and recondense a lot of that steam back into the pot.

Consider baked risottos, or a no-stir variety that lets you leave the lid on. Or work in a crockpot placed directly in front of the window.
posted by aimedwander at 3:34 PM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

I keep a small electric dehumidifier running in my kitchen.
posted by KateViolet at 3:43 PM on October 29, 2014

Believe it or not, you don't need to keep water boiling while you're cooking (short) pasta. You can just bring water to boil (while covered), add pasta, replace lid, turn off heat. I'm speaking from experience, and also Serious Eats.
posted by kitkatcathy at 3:59 PM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

« Older A Bay Area DIY writer's retreat on the cheap?   |   I don't really want to be this aware of my own... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.