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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/378

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ture? If you tell her that the water must not boil, she shifts her stew-pan to the side of the fire, where it shall only simmer, and she firmly believes that such simmering water has a lower temperature than water that is boiling violently over the fire. "It stands to reason" that it must be so, and, if the experimental philosopher appeals to fact and the evidence of the thermometer, he is a "theorist."

The French cook escapes this simmering delusion by her common use of the bain-marie or "water-bath," as we call it in the laboratory, where it is also largely used for "digesting" at temperatures below 212°. This is simply a vessel immersed in an outer vessel of water. The water in the outer vessel may boil, but that in the inner vessel can not, as its evaporation keeps it below the temperature of the water from which its heat is derived. A carpenter's glue-pot is a very good and compact form of water-bath, and I recommend the introduction of this apparatus into kitchens where a better apparatus is not obtainable. Some iron-mongers keep in stock a form of water-bath which they call a "milk-scalder." This resembles the glue-pot, but has an inner vessel of earthenware, which is, of course, a great improvement upon the carpenter's device, as it may be so easily cleaned.

One of the incidental advantages of the bain-marie is that the stewing may be performed in earthenware or even glass vessels, seeing that they are not directly exposed to the fire. Other forms of such double vessels are obtainable at the best iron-mongers'. I have lately seen a very neat apparatus of this kind, called "Dolby's Extractor." This consists of an earthenware vessel that rests on a ledge, and thus hangs in an outer tin-plate vessel; but, instead of water, there is an air-space surrounding the earthenware pot. A top screws over this, and the whole stands in an ordinary saucepan of water. The heat is thus very slowly and steadily communicated through an air-bath, and it makes excellent beef-tea; but, being closed, the evaporation does not keep down the temperature sufficiently to fulfill the above-named conditions for perfect stewing. At temperatures below the boiling-point evaporation proceeds superficially, and the rate of evaporation at a given temperature is proportionate to the surface exposed, irrespective of the total quantity of water; therefore, the shallower the inner vessel of the bain-marie, and the greater its upper outspread, the lower will be the temperature of its liquid contents when its sides and bottom are heated by boiling water. The water in a basin-shaped inner vessel will have a lower temperature than that in a vessel of similar depth, with upright sides, and exposing an equal water-surface. A good water-bath for stewing may be extemporized by using a common pudding-basin (I mean one with projecting rim, as used for tying down the pudding-cloth), and selecting a saucepan just big enough for this to drop into, and rest upon its rim. Put the meat, etc., to be stewed into the basin, pour hot water over them, and hot water into the saucepan, so that the basin shall be in a water-bath; then let this