How to Cooking Up a Sweat


Take a peak at many of Our Deer’s recipes – or recipes in any gourmet cookbook or website – and you may run across directions asking you to sweat.

No, this doesn’t mean the chef needs to work up a sweat. “Sweating” is actually a cooking technique.


What is Sweating?

In cooking, sweating means gently heating coarsely chopped food – often aromatic vegetables like garlic, onion, carrots, and celery, but also sometimes meat, poultry, or seafood – in some butter or oil.

Because moisture tends to bead on the top of the food during this cooking, the technique earned the name “sweating.”

The end result is tender food that’s sometimes transparent in appearance. Often, other ingredients are added to the pan after sweating. For example, you might sweat onions before adding meat for sauteing.

What is Sweating?

Speaking of sauteing, while sweating might seem similar to sauteing, it is different. Sweating uses much lower heat, little or no browning of food occurs, and sometimes salt is added to remove moisture from the food.

In addition, sweating uniquely releases the flavorful and aromatic qualities of food.


How to Sweat Food

How to Sweat Food

  • Chop or dice the food. Make the pieces about the same size so they cook evenly.
  • Turn a burner to medium low heat and warm a pan on it.
  • Add a small amount of oil or butter. Use no more than 2 tablespoons, tops. Swirl the oil or butter around the pan so the surface is well coated.
  • Heat the oil or butter for a few seconds.
  • Add the chopped or diced food.
  • Add a pinch of salt. (Optional, but traditional.)
  • The food should sizzle gently. If it pops or sizzles loudly, turn down the heat.
  • Frequently stir the food. This helps prevent it from browning and overcooking.
  • In 5 to 10 minutes, the food should be soft. Many vegetables, including onions and celery, will be translucent. The sweating is complete.


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