Kettle-cooked
Posted: 19 May 2012 12:11 AM   [ Ignore ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3079
Joined  2007-02-26

I’ve seen labels on packs of potato chips saying they are kettle-cooked. Does this just mean cooked in batches, or is there something more to it? What kind of “kettle” is referred to here? (The only thing I’ve actually called a kettle in real life is a device for boiling water.)

Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 May 2012 12:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  650
Joined  2011-04-10

The only kettle here is likely to be the kettle in the mind of the mark.

Caveat: I am a cynic.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 May 2012 01:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  825
Joined  2007-03-01

Well, the basic meaning of kettle is ‘a vessel, usually of metal, for boiling water or other liquids over a fire’. Originally a kettle was essentially what we’d now probably describe as a ‘cauldron’, which is what its German cognate, Kessel, still means. (That’s why a ‘kettledrum’, a metal cauldron-shaped drum, is so called.)

There are all sorts of kettles: fish-kettles, camp-kettles, dye-kettles, et cetera. Originally the thing we boil water in for hot drinks was called a tea-kettle; but over time it became the only kind of kettle in most people’s kitchens and so the need to distinguish it from other kinds of kettle evaporated and the qualifier was dropped. I can’t have been the only person puzzled as a child to hear the phrase ‘a pretty kettle of fish’ and wonder: who would put fish in a tea-kettle?

I’ve no idea what the kind of kettle these people are frying their chips/crisps in looks like, but presumably they mean that they are making them in (relatively) small batches by putting the raw potato slices in a single vessel and scooping them out when done, rather than on a rolling production-line process. Whether that should make them nicer I don’t know: but it sounds reassuring, in the same way that it does when the makers of speciality brands of gin and whisky tell you that they make them in pot-stills.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 May 2012 03:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4720
Joined  2007-01-03

That’s exactly what it means. Kettle-cooked chips are made in batches, often quite large ones, instead of a continuous process line. It’s like calling a mass-produced food “home style.” It sounds nice, but doesn’t really make a difference.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 May 2012 09:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  710
Joined  2007-02-07

The mass produced “kettle cooked” chips you’re seeing are actually a copycat of real kettle cooked chips that were a big hit at swap meets and fairs a few years ago (at least in So Cal).

I’d call them artisanal chips, they’re usually cut thicker and trust me, true kettle cooked chips right out of the kettle are wonderful and are about as close to those things in bags as a Ferrari is to a Yugo.

Profile