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While listening to a radio cooking program, one of the guests claimed that vegetables can often be made to taste better by removing water from them. His reasoning being the ratio of tasty elements is increased relative to water content. He gave cooking celeriac in salt as an example. The conversation then moved on to other topics. Having recently started eating more vegetarian meals, I'm looking for ways to add flavor back into my meals.

What methods exist to remove water from vegetables?

  • Cooking in salt also adds salt, which makes most things taste better. But there are certain vegetables that benefit from a heavy salting, and then leaving to sit so they'll release liquid. Eggplant comes to mind, but also older zucchini. – Joe Aug 15 '16 at 13:04
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Ordinary drying/dehydration can certainly change the taste and texture of foods, but the primary point of dehydration is often preserving food rather than improving taste. Sometimes additional seasonings are added during the drying process (as in beef jerky, although I know you were asking about vegetables).

Application of heat often releases liquid from vegetables. For example, wilting spinach or other leafy greens on the stove top, or roasting root vegetables in the oven. Especially with high heat, as in roasting, other chemical processes are creating flavor besides simply removing water.

Osmosis is a another process for removing water. For example, in making namasu, it is common to sprinkle salt over thinly sliced cucumber and let it sit for 10 minutes to several hours, sometimes with a weight on top to help press out liquid. Then the salt is rinsed off, leaving little salt taste but a large change in the texture and flavor of the cucumber. Add vinegar to this process takes you into the realm of pickling, where some of the change to the vegetable is from removing water but some is from infusing other flavors.

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As someone who eats vegetables every day (and quite a bit of them), I am not sure the statement is completely true, I think that what you get from removing water is a more concentrated taste, which sometimes (for example with sundried tomatoes) taste good, but it is not useful for every occasion.

In some other cases such spinach, I tend to remove the water the same way I remove it from pasta.

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    Not clear what you mean about removing water from spinach & pasta? (drain spinach like pasta? - wouldn't that remove a lot of the spinachey flavor along with the water?) – Lorel C. Aug 14 '16 at 14:07
  • How do you remove water from spinach and pasta? – Shannon Matthews Aug 15 '16 at 10:47
  • me? - I drain water from pasta that I have just boiled by draining it through a colander. The water from cooking spinach, on the other hand, is much less, and has all come out of the spinach leaves (You wouldn't boil spinach in a couple quarts of water would you?), and I just cook the excess water away using a shallow pan with the lid off. – Lorel C. Aug 15 '16 at 15:39
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Frying (sauteing, shallow frying, oil blanching/deep frying), baking/roasting, marinating them with salt/sugar (and then not putting the drawn out liquid in the dish at the same time with the vegetables) will all have such an effect.

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