How to Use a Double Boiler

Last Updated on October 13, 2021 by Boniface Muriuki

Have you ever tried melting chocolate over high heat? Well, this will almost always end up in disappointment. Your chocolate is likely to become a lump!

If you’ve found yourself in such a situation, then you should consider investing in a double boiler. This appliance (also known as Bain-Marie) allows you to slowly and evenly heat foodstuff that requires gentle & slow cooking. 

This article offers a comprehensive guide on how to use a double boiler. Read on to get handy tips.

What is a Double Boiler?

Most people don’t understand the concept of double boilers. To most, this is the best because it offers two useful kitchen items – a pot and a bowl. 

However, there is a formidable reason why double boilers come as a pair consisting of a pot and a bowl.

If you’ve been keen enough, you’ll notice that the top bowl is designed in a way as to fit into the mouth of the pot. This design is strategic!

It helps to ensure that no steam escapes from the pot. As such, it will heat your food faster and more efficiently.

So, what is a double boiler in one sentence?

A double boiler is a set of two pans. One large one that looks like a saucepan and another shallow one fits perfectly on the mouth of the big pot. 

Most of the double boilers also come with a lid. However, you’ll seldom need it since most food will require constant stirring. 

If you need to cook meals that require stirring, it would be best to choose a double boiler with a transparent lid. This feature will help you to monitor your food and ensure that it does not burn. 

 How to Use a Double Boiler

What is the Use of a Double Boiler?

A double boiler is a kitchen appliance that helps you heat/cook food that does not require high temperatures, such as chocolate and egg yolk.

When using a double boiler, you’ll cook your meals using steam. The section explains how you can use a double boiler to melt chocolate and make other meals. 

How to Use a Double Boiler

If you’re wondering how to use your recently acquired double boiler, then here is a comprehensive guide:

Step 1: Clean Your Boilers 

After purchasing your double boiler, you must clean it to get rid of dirt. Ensure that you use warm and soapy water to achieve the best results in seconds!

Step 2: Fill the Lower Saucepan with Water Quarter Way

After cleaning the boiler, you should pick the saucepan and fill it with water up to the quarter mark. Do not fill it with water entirely since you’ll not get a space for the bowl.

Step 3: Place Your Saucepan on Your Cooktop

Place the saucepan on the cooktop and ignite it. Heat the water for a few minutes.

Step 4: Place Your Bowl on Top of the Saucepan

After the water is heated for a while, you should place the bowl on top. Ensure that it covers the mouth entirely to prevent moisture from escaping.

Step 5: Introduce Your Food Items

Put your food items (chocolate, egg yolk, or any other item that requires slow cooking) in the bowl. Let steam heat the items slowly.

Step 6: Stir Regularly Until the Food is Ready

Once the food starts cooking, you should stir until it is ready. This ensures that it’s evenly done. 

Double boilers are designed to heat the food using steam derived directly from water boiling in the lower saucepan. This prevents direct contact between the food item and the heat source, allowing a slow but even cooking process. As such, you’ll be sure that your food will not scorch. 

Never overfill the lower pan when using a double boiler. The upper bowl should not come into contact with water, or the entire setup will be null and void!

You should check the water levels on the lower bowl periodically and fill it up if it runs dry.

If you’re using an induction cooktop, always ensure that the bottom pot is induction-ready

When to Use a Double Boiler

A double boiler is one of the most underestimated kitchen appliances! It allows you to slow cook your meals. These are the main situations that require a double boiler in the kitchen:

1. Melting Chocolate 

In most recipes with chocolate as the main ingredient, you’ll be required to introduce it to your meals while in molten form.

However, melting your chocolate is tricky and may lead to useless lumps, thus frustrating your effort. The secret is using low heat and avoiding direct contact with heat.

To achieve this, you should use a double boiler as described above. Ensure constant stirring for the best results. 

2. Cooking Delicate Foods

Some delicate foods require metered heat to achieve the best taste. Regulating heat when using your regular cookware can be tricky.

In such cases, you should use a double boiler!

Some of the foods that may require a double boiler include hollandaise sauce and custard preparations. 

3. Reheating Food

If you need to reheat food that does not require further heating, then using a double boiler is an excellent idea. The slow heating will reheat the food without altering the level of their doneness. 

Besides cooking edible food, double boilers are critical in soap making. They are used to melt the wax and mix it with other essential oils. As such, you can be sure that owning a double boiler will be helpful beyond making your meals. 

Double Boiler Price

You can get double boilers at as low as $15 to as high as $200. The price difference is primarily due to differences in size. Additionally, some brands such as Cuisinart are relatively pricier. 

How to Make a Double Boiler at Home (DIY)

Making a double boiler is relatively straightforward. All you will need is a pot and a bowl. Ensure that the bowl can fit perfectly around the mouth of the pot.

Once you fill your pot with water and it starts boiling, you should place the boil on top and put your ingredients therein. Voila! You have a double boiler.

How to Clean Your Double Boiler

If you need a double boiler, then it is factual that you’ll have dirty dishes at the end of it. The ingredients that require a double boiler are pretty sticky -such as chocolate and cheese.

On the other hand, the lower pot is likely to get stained by mineral salts in the water. The constant boiling will leave behind deposits of calcium, lime, and other mineral salts. 

As such, you will need a comprehensive cleaning routine to overcome these dirt and mess hurdles. Here’s an all-inclusive guide:

How to Clean a double boiler

How to Clean Messy Double Boiler Bowl

To clean your boil, you will need warm and soapy water. Additionally, you will require a non-abrasive cleaning material.

If the mess is too much, you can soak the bowl for approximately 10 minutes before scrubbing it using a gentle scrubber. 

How to Clean Stained Double Boiler

If you need to clean the stains left behind by mineral deposits, you should use warm water and white vinegar. You can also consider using baking soda. 

Mix equal parts of water and white vinegar, then bring the mixture to a boil. Switch off your stove and let the mixture settle.

After one hour, pour the mixture and use your ordinary scouring pad to clean the pot. It will be restored to its original glister in seconds and without any hassle!

How to Use a Double Boiler – the Bottom Line

A double boiler is a useful kitchen appliance, especially if you like trying out new recipes. You will need the appliance to slow cook food items that do not require intense heating or direct contact with heat. 

To get the best results, you should always ensure that you do not fill the lower pan. This way, you’ll be sure that your food will only be steamed (there will be no direct contact with heat whatsoever).

If you’ve been wondering how to use a double boiler effectively, then this article will answer all your questions. We’ve detailed how to use and clean it to achieve the best results. 

How to Use a Double Boiler – FAQ

How much water do I put in a double boiler?

To get the best results with your double boiler, use 1-2 inches of water on the bottom saucepan. Ensure that the top bowl does not touch the water (there should be no direct heating of the upper bowl)

When should I use a double boiler?

Use a double boiler when you’re cooking ingredients that require slow cooking (cooking slowly while not getting into direct contact with the source of heat). Such ingredients include chocolate and cheese.

How do I melt chocolate on a double boiler?

To melt chocolate, add 2 inches of water into the bottom pot and place it on fire. Once it starts producing steam, place a bowl on the upper part (the bowl should not come into direct contact with water). Put your chocolate on the bowl and keep stirring until you get a thick paste.

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