High Altitude Cooking Tips

I am so grateful for all the nice comments we receive here at The Cookbook People.com in reference to my easy-to-use Matilda’s Fantastic Cookbook Software. I recently received a wonderful email from Randi Levin of The Muffin Lady Inc. in Colorado who has a wealth of knowledge and experience in the special art of high altitude cooking.

Randi was kind enough to send us some suggestions for improving our high altitude cooking tips. By popular demand, she has written a cookbook about high altitude cooking so that others may find palatable success high above the ocean.

Meanwhile, here are some excerpts from her email:

Dear Erin and All at Cookbook People:

Please allow me to communicate a few differences between your high altitude cooking tips and mine. I mean absolutely no disrespect at all. MY goal is to help others find palatable success at high altitudes. Most of your tips are worthy and based on scientific information, but MINE are based on decades of experience high above the ocean.

I have been baking and adjusting recipes in the mountains of Colorado for 32 years to date in elevations between 5,000 and 8,000 feet. Many of my cookbook recipes originated from family members at sea level, and were adjusted for higher elevations accordingly. Several are actually more than 100 years old, and “to DIE FOR.” (Bless Great Grandmothers!).

I hope these adjustments help your readers.
Enjoy,

Randi L. Levin
The Muffin Lady
Author, Publisher & High Altitude Food Specialist

Dear Randi: I am delighted that you gave us permission to include your additional thoughts and comments here on our website! The table below shows our high altitude tips placed side-by-side with Randi’s suggested comments, which we will be including in our upcoming software update.

From Matilda’s Fantastic Cookbook Software:

Randi’s High Altitude Tips/Comments:

Water boils at a lower temperature (each 500-ft increase in altitude causes a drop of about 1° in the boiling point). For example, at 7,500 feet the boiling point will be 198°. Since it will not be as hot as it is at lower altitudes, you will have to boil it longer to achieve the same effect.

P

Baked goods that include yeast or baking powder will rise faster which may sound good, but it’s not. They will dry out.

P

Boil things longer if you are at an elevation of 5,000 feet or more.

Boil things longer if you are at an elevation of 3,500 feet or more.

Oven temperatures are affected by altitude, so it is sometimes necessary to adjust the suggested oven temperature. For batters and dough, you should increase the temperature by 25° Fahrenheit if you are at an elevation of 3,500 feet or more.

I have lived at 5,000 feet, 6,900 feet and currently at 8,000 feet above the ocean and have never raised the temperature. Actually, for some items, (roasts, biscuits, etc.), I suggest lowering the temperature by 5-25°F. For example, if biscuits call for baking at 425°F to 450°F, I lower the temperature 25 degrees: 400°F to 425°F.

Why: When raising the temperature in dry environments such as the Rockies, Sierras or Alps, all you are doing is increasing the dry heat. Sure the product will work, but it will also dry out much more rapidly. Additionally, the only reason to increase the liquid by 1/4 cup (4T) is so that the excess dry heat may absorb and then evaporate it. The product will still dry out faster when the temperature is raised!

Adjust ingredients that cause your baked goods to rise. Smaller pans work better at high altitudes.

P

Use more liquids (including that used in rice, soups and vegetables) slightly to allow for longer cooking times.

KUDOS, as this is an absolute.

Reduce baking powder

For each teaspoon, decrease by:

3,000 feet 1/8 teaspoon

5,000 feet 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon

7,000 feet 1/4 teaspoon

Reduce baking powder (and baking soda) a smidgen. It is easier and more effective to simply decrease these leavening agents by slightly indenting your finger into the powder when leveling the measuring spoon. You will want to decrease each by 1/4 teaspoon at 9,500-10,000 feet and above!

Reduce sugar

For each cup, decrease:

3,000 feet 0 – 1 tablespoon

5,000 feet 0 – 2 tablespoon

7,000 feet 1 – 3 tablespoon

3,000 feet has minimal adjustments, if any, according to folks I have spoken to. Elevations of 3,500 feet seem to be where the adjustments actually begin. I am at 8,000+ feet, so why would I want to decrease one of my moisturizing agents so drastically? Whenever I measure sugar, I simply measure it to just below the cup line, not by 3 or more Tablespoons. or else I would have a drier product than desired.

Increase liquid

For each cup, add:

3,000 feet 1 – 2 tablespoon

5,000 feet 2 – 4 tablespoon

7,000 feet 3 – 4 tablespoon

Adding 1-2 Tablespoons more liquid per elevation is sufficient. You will not want to add any more until above 10,000 feet.

Additionally there is NO mention about increasing FLOUR by 1-2 Tablespoons per cup. This is one of the most important adjustments, especially when trying to avoid sunken cakes and flat cookies.

Erin

About Erin Miller

PS: As a thank you for visiting, why not grab a few free recipe card printables? No signup forms, no obligation.

Posted in Cookbook Software, Odds and Ends, Our Products, Recipes & Cooking Advice.

One Comment

Leave a Reply