Questions about the chemical composition or properties of ingredients and dishes.

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16
votes
2answers
2k views

How deeply will the flavors in a brine penetrate chicken? (experiment results)

I'm not asking about salt or "juiciness". I think there is enough evidence here and elsewhere to answer that question with "pretty deep, or all the way to the bone". My question concerns spices and ...
6
votes
1answer
539 views

How can I tell which fruits etc. contain proteases?

After my second attempt at making a ginger mousse with gelatin and finding that it fails, I've discovered that fresh ginger contains a protease. I knew that pineapple does, and that it complicates ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

What factors affect collagen to gelatin conversion?

I have a bunch of oxtails I've been braising for hours in an adobo sauce and they remain awfully tough. What I'd love to see happen is for that abundant connective tissue to melt away and coat each ...
5
votes
1answer
261 views

The name or chemical compound responsible for a specific quality of some spices (numbness)

I'm putting together the results of a kitchen experiment and I'd like to be able to identify a phenomenon that I've noticed when using certain spices. I've felt it in some of what are often called ...
4
votes
4answers
2k views

What can I do to prevent the gaseous side effect of sunchokes?

I'd love to eat sunchokes (aka Jerusalem artichokes or topinambour) more frequently, but the side effects (gas, abdominal discomfort) are a bummer. In a home kitchen, how can I prepare the sunchokes ...
8
votes
1answer
330 views

What happens with bread at >= 94˚C/201˚F? Or: Is temperature a reliable indicator of doneness?

So I baked a rye bread last night (in a bread pan). It was a new recipe for me and I had to adjust some things in it due to missing ingredients, so I could not fully rely on the time and temperature ...
11
votes
2answers
2k views

Coffee foam vs. Tea foam

One sign of really good fresh well-roasted coffee beans is foam. When you pour hot water into the French press, it foams, often forming a head up to 2" high. And when you use an espresso machine, ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

How does hydration of a sourdough affect baking features?

Looking at different recipes for sourdough starters, there's everything from a mix as dry as cookie dough to as wet as gruel. In this (danish) recipe from the acclaimed chef Claus Meyer of a pretty ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

Do breadcrumbs really act as a binder in meat preparations?

I routinely hear that breadcrumbs are added to burgers and meatballs to bind them. For example, see the answers to this question: how to stop meatballs falling apart. On the other hand, I have heard ...
8
votes
4answers
12k views

homemade mint extract

I've got some mint in the yard (I think it's apple mint, as the leaves are very fuzzy and rounded) from which I'd like to make mint extract. No specific use in mind (except perhaps insect repellent), ...
7
votes
1answer
2k views

Cooking Chemistry: lemon juice/soymilk buttermilk substitute turning bitter and 'rising'

I made a soup recipe the other night (mainly potato, spinach, and veggie broth) that called for buttermilk. I substituted soymilk and lemon juice, reading online that that was a good substitution for ...
6
votes
3answers
5k views

what makes red tomato sauce turn orange in colour?

I have noticed that tomato sauce (having started with deep red tomatoes) can turn orange. The colour change isn't from mixing in an ingredient of different colour such as cream. It seems to occur in ...
3
votes
1answer
487 views

Why use citric acid and sodium hexametaphosphate in cheese sauce?

I was watching a YouTube video from ChefSteps on how to make cheese sauce. They used sodium citrate and sodium hexametaphosphate. What are the reasons for including these in the recipe? What are the ...
1
vote
1answer
229 views

Why does spinach lose its texture when cooked?

I know that cooking spinach until it loses its texture is called wilting, but what is the chemical process that is going on. It it losing moisture? If so why does it look so moist? Thanks!