The following article is a guest post from Felicia Baratz-Savage who is a writer and graphic artist living in Indianapolis, IN. As a contributor for Cooks & Travel Books, she specializes in travel, culture and education.
Leaders in the restaurant industry know that the strength of an entrée depends on the quality of its ingredients. A fresh piece of salmon, for example, is going to taste considerably better than frozen fish.
If you use top-notch ingredients, but the food coming out of your kitchen tastes “off,” the problem could be lie within one of the most basic ingredients: water. Read on to learn how water quality could be affecting the flavor of your food.
Hard water in the kitchen
Hard water, which contains high levels of magnesium and calcium, can cause problems in your kitchen. If you cook with dry beans, you may find that the beans don’t become tender when cooked in hard water. Hard water also interferes with fermentation, which means bread dough takes longer to rise.
Aside from affecting the quality of your food, hard water can cause buildup in coffeemakers and other appliances that use hot water, and it can leave streaks and spots on your dishes, which may make a poor first impression with patrons.
What’s in your water?
Tap water can contain different minerals or additives, along with traces of contaminants, depending on where you live. The city of Battle Creek, Mich., for instance, has relatively clean water with few contaminants, while Pensacola, Fla., has some of the worst drinking water in the country – in 2011, the results of five years of water quality testing revealed Pensacola water contained many contaminants, including cyanide and chloroform.
While some contaminants in water may not affect the taste of your food, you should at least test your tap water so you know what’s in it. You can buy a water quality test kit to find out what’s in your water, and if the results are worrisome, you can follow-up by getting a professional evaluation of your water quality.
Overcoming water problems
Even though you have little power over what minerals, additives or pollutants are in your local water supply, you can take steps to minimize the effects of undesirable water. Water softeners can reduce the presence of minerals and eliminate annoying problems like cloudy wine glasses, scaly coffeemakers and sauces that don’t taste quite right. And water filtration systems can reduce the presence of or eliminate chemicals and pollutants that can undermine food quality.
The success of your restaurant depends upon your most renowned dishes coming out of the kitchen right every time. Take time to check your water quality and find solutions to any problems you may have. Even the best ingredients available won’t make an odd-tasting dish served on a lackluster plate appealing.