What Does Simmer Mean?
Simmer is technically the heat that is just below the boiling point of the liquid. A simmer is reached within a pot on the stove when the liquid is hot and just has a bubble or two forming at a time and reaching the top of the liquid before popping. OK, maybe three bubbles at a time if it is a large pot, but really no more than that. If you look closely at the picture here you can notice just a few circles forming under the top layer of tomato sauce – a perfect simmer. If you have multiple bubbles happening in your pan, then you’ve got a boiling pot. You will hear only a tiny pop…(wait for it) pop from the pan (never the sound of popcorn).
If a recipe calls for simmer, that generally means that a boil will ruin the recipe. Remember, a boil is generally used for water. If, for instance, you boil tomato sauce it will become acidic and probably give you heartburn. But, if you simmer your sauce it will be delicious. If you boil your cream sauce, the consistency will change as it becomes separated and lumpy while a simmered cream sauce is smooth and delicious.
Hope that explains what simmer means. To find out answers to other frequently asked questions check out the rest of our FAQ.