Top 5 Ways To Remove Burnt Taste From Foods

Be Quick

We’ve all done it. We’re making our favourite stove-top dish and the phone rings, the doorbell rings or a herd of gazelle runs through the backyard and distracts us for just a minute, but it’s too late. You forgot about what you were cooking long enough to cause problems. It’s started to burn. While it’s frustrating, don’t take time to beat yourself up yet, if you move quickly, you may be able to still save the day!

Start by getting the pot off the heat right away to avoid making the problem worse as you figure out what to do next. Once you have a moment to think go through the list of options below and decide on your best course of action.

Top Five

#1 – The Switcheroo – Many things can be salvaged by scooping out the contents of one pot, and placing them into a clean one. It is critical that when you do this you DO NOT SCRAPE the burnt pot. You will likely lose a bit off the bottom for your final product but that’s OK. Once you have a new clean pot filled with your food, you can taste it and add or alter things as necessary. I have used this technique many times with great success, often without any negative impact to the dish I am cooking.

#2 – Ingredient  Experiment – If changing your pot has left you with a light burnt taste or smell this can often be remedied by playing with the ingredients a bit. Some things that I have used successfully include adding your favourite sweetener or any of a variety of vinegars including: red/white wine, cider or balsamic. In addition adding extra spices can mask the flavours considerably.  The key here is to pick ingredients that fits with the dish you are preparing but have a particular and neutralizing effect on the offending taste or smell. Doing this when coupled with #1 on our list of best ways to remove burnt taste from foods can have impressive results.

#3 – The Almighty Spud – In addition to being a favourite of many in its own right, the potato can actually be used as a tool in the case of some burnt recipes. It goes without saying that if your dish already has potatoes in it, this may be the kiss of death for salvaging your recipe. Potatoes may have absorbed much of the burnt flavour and smell and unless you can remove them and add fresh potatoes it might be too late. That said if you have some time and patience, add a couple of raw peeled potatoes cut in half to your pot and simmer for another 30-45 minutes on low heat, then remove. The potatoes will absorb much if not all of the problem. After taking this step you can always tweak the recipe with ingredients as outlined in #2 above.

#4 – Just A Trim – In cases where you are cooking solo items or dishes that do not have much liquid associated with them there is an oft overlooked but obvious way of dealing with the problem. Many things can just be trimmed of their scarred exterior. If you plan on giving this method a try, I highly recommend you grab a sharp chef knife and a good set of tongs. Hold the food with the tongs and trim off and burnt parts. Do this for each item that needs attention. Once this is done, consider a few moments in a pan or toaster oven to bring back a nice coloured look to the food. Personally, I like a tiny bit of oil in a clean pan to get a nice texture on the outside of the item or a toaster oven to lightly brown it. Obviously, you want to make sure you pay extra close attention to it while it is browning so you don’t end up with a big mess all over again.

#5 – Change Your Tune – I once had to run an errand while cooking and left relatively inexperienced cook in charge of watching and stirring a batch of simmering homemade chilli while I was gone. At some point the bottom of the chilli began to burn and the instinct of my friend was to give it a really good stir to stop the burning. It was a perfect time for #1 on our list of best ways to remove burnt taste from foods. When I returned the damage was done and we didn’t have time to remedy the situation before dinner so we made other arrangements. Another friend of mine took it home and stated that she just thought of it as “smoky” flavoured chilli and ate that chilli all week. While it is not a good idea to eat the actual items that are burnt, once they are removed perhaps the remaining smells and light flavours can just be overcome with a slight change in perspective. “Smoky Chili,” who knew?

**Bonus Item – I am throwing this item onto the list as a bonus because while I haven’t tried it myself, some people swear by it though, and that is peanut butter. Wisdom From Grandma swears that peanut butter will save the day when dealing with soups and stews and who am I to argue. When push comes to shove someday, I am definitely keeping this in my back pocket, just in case.

Do you have your own technique that is not mentioned here? Share it with us! Tried one from the list above? Tell us how it went!

Happy cooking.

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Posted on October 19, 2011, in Beginners, Cooking Tips, Kitchen How To, Top 5 and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Bacon… if the smoky taste isn’t too strong, adding bacon makes the smoky taste “right” in the context of the food…this works better for spaghetti sauce or chili, not so good for lemon meringue pie

  2. I tried Step 1 switching pots, step 2 adding additional ingredients and spices, then peanut butter didn’t help and finally added the cut potatoes for later removal and it worked like a charm.

  3. Peanut Butter works like a bomb with burnt stews :)

  4. Peanut butter works. I made some chili in my pressure cooker and I invariably scorched it. After carefully dipping the good out, I mixed in a couple tablespoons of creamy peanut butter and my picky daughter could not taste that it had been scorched.

  5. I think it depends on what you have burned. Peanut butter works for some. And so does vinegar and sugar in some. Found this in a 1970. Cookbook – barbecue sauce! Works great if you have a tomatoe based soup!

  6. The peanut butter really works!!!
    I tried it on a curry I made today… Now all I need to do is get rid of the saltieness

  7. I found that 1/2 tsp of cinnamon and a small can of tomato paste salvaged my burnt moose meat soup. The original ingredients were: 4 chopped potatoes, 2 lbs chopped moose meat, 2 cups of rice, 1 can of stewed tomatoes, 1 package of beefy onion soup starter, 3 diced celery stalks, 3 diced carrots, 1 can of corn, and 1 can of green beans. Of course I left the soup on too long taking care of my son, and most of the potatoes burnt at the bottom, so I ladled the top half of the soup into a different pot immediately after I fenced the pot from heat, then I added the cinnamon and tomato paste. A bit more thick of a soup, more like a stew, but it saved the day!

  8. The peanut butter works!!!

  9. I just scorched a huge pot of chili I was cooking for a neighborhood gathering. I was horrified. I took it off the heat and changed pots. It still tasted smokey so I added 2 tbs. peanut butter and let it set uncovered for a couple of hours. It tastes pretty good. Just warn people if you try this because of allergies.

  10. Take the pot and put it in very cold wwater, big searing sounds result, but if you do this before anything else, you don’t get the burned taste and as a bonus, the burned stuff comes up much easier when washed and scrubbed.. Don’t ask me how or why this works– It’s magic

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