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What should mountain campers know about High-Altitude Cooking?

The higher you are, the lower the pull of gravity. Because air is held to the Earth by gravity, you will find that, when you visit a mountain, the air is significantly thinner than it is at sea level. Interestingly enough, the thin air not only affects your body, it also changes what happens when you boil water.

To boil water, you need to use enough heat to make the water molecules jump into the air. When the atmosphere is thin, it takes less heat to make this happen. As a result, the boiling point of water is lower on a mountain than at sea level.

For example, at sea level, water boils at 212 F (100 C). At an elevation of 7,500 feet (2,300 meters), water boils at 189 F (92 C). This means that, if you are camping on a mountain, boiling water will have less heat than you expect, and foods that require boiling will take longer to cook.

Indeed, at a high enough altitude, some foods cannot even be cooked at all by boiling. For example, if you are on a mountain and you try to boil dried beans, you may find that the beans will simply not cook, because the water boils off at such a low temperature.

Thus, if you are planning a camping trip to the mountains, make sure that you take foods that are easy to cook at a high altitude. In addition, if you plan to use recipes, remember that you will have to increase the cooking time whenever your recipe calls for boiling water.

Hint: If you are captured by cannibals who are threatening to boil you alive, try to talk them into doing it on top of a mountain. You'll live longer.