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What's the Difference Between These Cooking Terms?

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What's the difference between these techniques:  Mix, Blend, Stir, and Incorporate, especially when making baked goods?  All of these should be considered as being done by hand, not with any machines.

 

I always thought they were pretty much the same, but I saw a demonstration showing the difference between mixing and stirring, and it had to do with the direction and motion of the spoon.  So I'm now thinking that there are differences between all of these techniques.  Thanks for any help.

 

 

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Add in "fold" and "whip"

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These terms generally have further descriptors like "mix until well combined", "whip until soft peaks form", "blend till forms a paste" and "stir until sugar dissolves". If your recipes are not informative, and you are unsure, you can consult similar recipes for comparison. I don't see direction and motion so much as intensity or level of "togetherness". Folding is certainly a down the side and up over the top motion.

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Mix - for example, muffin mix: you only want to combine the ingredients together, with, say a spoon, until they are mixed, no more (or you get tough muffins). Mixing is relative, therefore, to whatever it is that's being mixed.

 

Blend - similar to mixing but usually implying, perhaps, a bit more gentleness than mixing but not as much as a fold. Usually, the idea being to simply incorporate the ingredients just until they come together.

 

Stir - again, very relative. Stir for how long? Stir gently, rigorously? Depends on the food items.

 

Whip - the idea here is to incorporate air. Thus, when making something that has to have a light, airy result, that's when whipping comes into play. But...whip with what? Well, probably a whisk, which leads us to our next thought.

 

Whisk - For incorporating air into a food item, but also to combine certain foods that might not combine as well or as easily if not using a whisk. Pancake batter, for instance, usually gets its best mxing from the use of a whisk, but you're not trying to get air into the batter. On the other hand, a fork (or two forks) is much better and scrambling eggs in a shallow bowl—whisks just don't grab the eggs like a fork does.

 

And finally...

 

Folding - the idea here is to avoid as much as possible the deflation of a food item that has a lot of air in it, or to not destroy the individuality of each food item. Thus, you fold in whipped cream into a batter to keep from deflating the batter, but you may also fold in a item into, say, a cake batter with the idea of leaving streaks in both food items for design.

 

Hope that helps,

 

Starkman


Edited by Starkman (log)

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I think there is a difference between "mix" and "stir" but I wouldn't say it has to do with the motion of the spoon. I think of "stir" as an action with a spoon (or paddle) that's not dependent on what's being stirred. That is, you can stir a single ingredient like cream (to keep it from scorching, for instance) or a homogeneous mixture like soup or stew whose ingredients are already mixed together. "Mix," on the other hand, is only used to describe situations where you have two or more unlike ingredients that you want to get together. You can do that with a spoon or paddle or fork, but you can also do it with your hands (like meatloaf). Sometimes you can use the terms interchangeably, as in "stir the cream into the coffee" or "mix the cream into the coffee," but often you can't.

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