What is caramelized food?
Although caramelizing sounds fancy and complicated it’s truly not. Caramelizing foods involves a slow cooking process and deep browning (as the word caramel implies as it will have the color of caramel candy). Or if you prefer a more scientific explanation it’s when sugar reacts in the presence of high heat.
When you’re looking for foods to caramelize choose those that are high in sugar and not water. Onions, apples, bananas, leeks, and carrots are just a few suggestions that are prime candidates for caramelizing.
How do I caramelize foods?
Here are a few tips and tricks to caramelizing foods:
Why would you want to caramelize foods?
- Start with a non-stick pan. Caramelizing can get a little sticky and you don’t want to ruin a pan.
- Chop your food into smaller (uniform) pieces or slices so that they cook evenly.
- Start off with high heat to kick the caramelization process off and then turn heat to low. Once cooking you’ll continue the process low and slow. Add oil/butter to pan and once hot add food.
- Sprinkle food with a pinch of salt to help speed up the process and release the sugars. You could even throw in a pinch of sugar at this point as well.
- Stir often. Cook until food has reached the color and taste you desire. Process can take up to 45 minutes depending on amount and personal preference of taste.
- Use a slow cooker or crock pot to make large batches of caramelized foods at a time. A jar of homemade caramelized onions makes a great holiday gift or hostess gift.
- Use a mandoline slicer to get uniform cuts of foods.
Caramelizing foods adds deep rich flavor. Once you’ve experienced caramelized onions for example in a dish, you might not ever want a regularly cooked onion again.
Recipe ideas for caramelized foods: