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Soft water is the best for boiling all vegetables. Fresh vegetables boil in one-third less time than stale ones. Green vegetables should be put into plenty of boiling water and salt, and boiled rapidly, without covering, only until tender enough to pierce with the finger nail; a bit of common washing soda, or of carbonate of ammonia, as large as a dried pea, put into the boiling water with any of the vegetables except beans, counteracts any excess of mineral elements in them, and helps to preserve their color. A lump of loaf sugar boiled with turnips neutralizes their excessive bitterness. Cabbage, potatoes, carrots, turnips, parsnips, onions, and beets, are injured by being boiled with fresh meat, and they also hurt the color of the meat, and impair its tenderness and flavor. When vegetables are cooked for use with salt meat, the meat should first be cooked and taken from the pot liquor, and the vegetables boiled in the latter. The following table will be a guide in boiling vegetables, but it must be remembered that the youngest and freshest boil in the least time; and that in winter all the roots except potatoes require nearly double the time to cook, that they would take in summer, when they are new; spinach, ten to fifteen minutes; brussels sprouts, peas, cauliflowers, and asparagus, fifteen to twenty minutes; potatoes, cabbage, corn, and string-beans, twenty to thirty minutes; turnips, onions, and squash, twenty to forty minutes; beets, carrots, and parsnips, about one hour.


The Cooking Manual of Practical Directions for Economical Every-Day Cookery (1877).


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