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Word of the Week: What is Caramelizing and How Do You Do It?

Caramelized onion, caramelized apples, and caramelized brussels sprouts are all delicious in part because of the method that gives them that sweet, buttery depth of flavor we all love. As these examples suggest, you can caramelize sweet and savory fruits and vegetables as long as they're full of natural sugars. You can even caramelize sugar - and make caramel, the simplest and most amazing sweet you can imagine, but you knew that.

Related: What is Sweating and How do You Do It? 

No matter what you are caramelizing, you first need a heavy bottomed pan that will conduct heat evenly. For caramel, combine 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar with 2/3 cup water on medium-high heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved completely, then cover and boil for 3-5 minutes or until you see lots of big bubbles. Uncover, lower heat to medium and cook until it’s thick and looks golden and delicious. Quickly remove from heat and use as desired!

And what about the veggies and fruits? A tablespoon of butter or oil per cup of veggies is a great ratio to start with. Using the same heavy bottomed pan on medium-high heat, melt butter and once it bubbles add desired fruit or vegetable. Lower heat to medium, spread the goods out into an even layer and allow to cook until it begins to brown, stirring occasionally until tender, golden, and delicious looking. And don’t rush the process, in this instance the end definitely justifies the slow-feeling means.

Want to jazz it up? Spices are always a good way to go, and wine, vinegar, and citrus juice can deepen or brighten up all that flavor. Play around with oils too as they impart their own unique flavor to the dish so explore beyond coconut, olive, and avocado oil. Oh, and you can always add some more sugar. Whether it's brown, raw, coconut, monk, (the list goes on), caramelizing can only get better with an extra bit of sugar.

Equipped with these tips, go on and step into your pantry! Grab the onions, the apples, the pears and sprouts and get to caramelizing!

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