Boiling is one of the things about which cooks are most careless; theoretically they almost always know how meat should be slowly boiled, but their idea of “slow” is ruled by the fire; they never attempt to rule that. There is a good rule given by Gouffé as to what slow boiling actually is: The surface of the pot should only show signs of ebullition at one side, just an occasional bubble.
Simmering is still slower process, and in this the pot should have only a sizzling round one part of the edge. Fresh meat should be boil slowly; ham or corn beef should barely simmer. Yet they must not go off the boil at all, which would spoil fresh meat entirely; steeping on water gives a flat insipid taste.
All vegetables except potatoes, asparagus, peas and cauliflower should boil fast as possible; these four only moderately. Most vegetables are boiled far too long. Cabbage is as delicate as cauliflower in the summer and fall if boiled in plenty of water, to which a salt and spoonful of soda has been added, as fast as possible for twenty minutes or half an hour; than drained and dressed.
In winter it should be cut in 6/8 pieces, boiled fast in plenty of water, for half an hour, no longer. Always give it plenty of room, let the water boil rapidly when you put it in the pot, which set on the hottest punt of fire to come to that point again, and you will have no more strong, rank, yellow stuff on your table, no bad odor in your house. Peas require no more than 20 minutes boiling if young; asparagus the same; the latter should always be boiled in a sauce pan deep enough to let it stand up in the water when tied up in bunches, for this saves the heads. Potatoes should be poured off the minute they are done, and allowed to stand at the back of the stove with a clean cloth folded over them. They are the only vegetable that should be put into cold water. When new, boiling water is proper, when quite ripe they are more floury if but in cold water.