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Ask Dr. Gourmet

What does "shiver" mean?

What do you mean when you use the term "shiver"?...You have used it in some of your recipes such as letting the water come to a "shiver." Does this mean boil?

Dr. Gourmet Says...

a copper saucepan

Julia Child, in her book From Julia Child's Kitchen, defines seven stages of heating water. Other authors have given other definitions, but most are similar to these.

1. Tepid: 85F to 105F.

2. Warm: 115F to 120F.

3. Hot: 130F to 135F.

4. Poach: 180F to 190F. This is the point at which the water starts to move. Julia Child calls this stage a "shiver," while James Beard referred to it as "feeble ebullition." This is the stage to blanch at.

5. Simmer: 190F to 200F. Bubbles start to show in the water. This is the point at which most stews are cooked and at which braising is done.

6. Slow boil: 205F. There are slow rising bubbles forming.

7. The real boil, full boil or rolling boil: To heat a liquid to its boiling point (in the case of plain water, this is 212° F) until bubbles break the surface. "Boil" also means to cook food in a boiling liquid.

I prefer James Beard's term because it is so elegant, but it's not as easy in a recipe to say "heat the water until it is feebly ebullating."

Thanks for writing,

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS
Dr. Gourmet