Denver Cardiologists Explain Cooking at Altitude

Coloradans certainly have a lot to be proud about. As the state with the highest average elevation, we take our relatively oxygen less lifestyle in stride. Every Denver cardiologist at South Denver Cardiology will tell you why they love living here, but despite those benefits; there are certain adjustments you have to make in order to live here. Perhaps one of the most noteworthy ones has everything to do with your crock pot. The fact is, living in an environment with less oxygen affects cooking procedures normally done at sea-level.

First of all, the lack of oxygen means that air pressure is lower. This results from the fact that because we are higher, we have less “atmospheric weight” above us. Less pressure means that it takes less energy to expand the molecules when heated. As such, the boiling point of water decreases as you gain altitude. Here in Denver where the elevation is 5,280 feet, water boils at approximately 95°C, or 203°F. What this means is that water is going to evaporate faster, which means an increase in the number of amount of water you use needs to be increased. Increase the amount of liquid by one to two tablespoons for every 1,000 foot gain above 2,000 feet. This also affects your cooking temperature. This is especially true of baked goods, in which the structure of the dough needs to set before it dries out. You should be increasing the recommended baking temperature by 10° F to allow the dough to set faster before evaporation sets in.

Speaking of baked goods, less air pressure also affects rising times for donuts, as it’s easier for them to rise. Thus, baking times for donuts should be reduced. You should decrease the time by 5 to 8 minutes per 30 minutes of baking time. But with that reduction, comes other alterations in ingredients. For every cup of sugar you need, you should be decreasing the amount by a tablespoon. This is because the rapid evaporation increases the concentration of sugar in the final product. For example, when you over cook the sugar, the structure of your finished product will be affected. As for flour, after 3,500 feet, add a tablespoon for every 1,500 foot gain. Additional flour helps the structure of the baked good set, and can compensate for the extra sugar concentration.

Ultimately, less pressure means faster cooking and baking times, while also speeding up the rate of evaporation, affecting your ingredients. Take our advice, and you’ll save your next meal from becoming a mile-high disaster.

How To Use This Information

 As wonderful as it is to live at altitude, you cannot expect to be an expert baker here without making the necessary adjustments to the environment. Cooking and baking require sensitive reactions that if not done properly, can affect the finished product considerably. Take our advice the next time your cook in Colorado.