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

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18
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5answers
8k views

How long is garlic butter safe, and why is it not a botulism risk like garlic in oil?

I've been making garlic butter for years, storing it for months at a time. When I read that garlic-in-oil can grow dangerous amounts of botulinum toxins after similar lengths of time, I wondered how ...
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 ...
13
votes
3answers
6k views

Coconut Water from White vs Brown Coconuts

The warning label on each coconut describes how to treat the water within each. The water on the brown coconut is to be discarded; the water on the white coconut is safe for consumption. In what ...
11
votes
1answer
4k views

Why do people recommend cream of tartar when whipping egg whites to the exclusion of all other acids?

Virtually every single egg white recipe will say add some cream of tartar to egg whites to help them whip better because the cream of tartar will lower the pH and make it more stable. But if all it's ...
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, ...
10
votes
1answer
2k views

What determines the 'saltiness' of salt?

I've bought two brands of salt that are completely different in terms of 'salt' concentration(not sure if this is the correct terminology). I realized this because I needed three or four times more ...
8
votes
4answers
14k 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), ...
8
votes
1answer
388 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 ...
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
3answers
11k views

What is the purpose of oil or butter in bread?

Specifically in wheat and potato breads, what is the purpose of adding oil or butter to the dough? I have always assumed it was just for flavor, but I suspect there is some background chemical ...
8
votes
1answer
2k views

Cooked meat diaper: toxic?

I accidentally left the meat diaper underneath my roast in a slow cooker. After 8 hours, the diaper is mostly disintegrated. I am able to fish out fragments, but big chunks seem to be missing. (For ...
8
votes
2answers
2k 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
1answer
3k views

What turned my garlic purple?

I commonly use a technique when caramelizing onions, in which I add the sliced onions to a pan with salt, oil, and water. The water softens the onions and helps cook them evenly such that by the time ...
8
votes
1answer
309 views

Does the speed of opening of a bottle of wine influence its flavour?

While having a (good) bootle of wine at a friends place I've been told the following: The bottle should be uncorked slowly and silently, not to spoil its bouquet. This statement came as ...
8
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 ...
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
2answers
8k views

Why do uncooked frostings that contain milk not need to be refrigerated?

I have seen (and used) recipes for icing and glaze that use uncooked milk in them, yet they do not need to be refrigerated. (For example, one with powdered sugar, milk, vanilla and butter or ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

How do I calculate the final acidity of homemade vinegar?

I am making vinegar by mixing vinegar (containing the mother) and wine, and then allowing fermentation to occur. I am wondering how to calculate the final % acidity. Assume: I know the initial ...
6
votes
1answer
613 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
3answers
6k 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 ...
6
votes
0answers
105 views

Inulin reduction in Jerusalem Artichokes [duplicate]

Last year we first planted Jerusalem Artichokes (Topinambour) in our vegetable garden. The plants did very well and we had quite a huge harvest. We found however that eating the tubers causes ...
5
votes
1answer
585 views

Difference between fermentation and leavening?

What is the technical difference between fermentation and leavening? Both cause bread to rise. Does fermentation only refer to the chemical process of one substance converting to another, which ...
5
votes
2answers
567 views

What is the maximum internal temperature of baked goods?

Obviously this will vary depending on the size/shape and ingredients used. But how hot does it get inside, say, a loaf of bread? A cake? How wide is the variation? What ingredients (or factors other ...
5
votes
1answer
295 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

What are the grey-black specks that appear when whipping cream in stainless steel bowl?

When we whip cream by hand in a stainless steel bowl, with a metal whisk, small grey specks, ~0.5-1mm in size, appear in the cream. The specks are squishy and can easily be smeared out. See attached ...
4
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
119 views

Why would parsnips make a beef stock not freeze?

I made a beef stock the way I always do, except that I added parnsips. Then I put the stock in the freezer and when I took it out, the stock was not frozen. It was freezing cold, but instead of having ...
4
votes
1answer
218 views

Why don't other grain proteins behave like gluten?

There are many excellent explanations here (and elsewhere) of what gluten "does." What I haven't seen anywhere is an explanation of what makes gluten so special. Where do its marvelous elastic ...
4
votes
1answer
142 views

When you try to “catch” yeast from the air: is it normal for the flour and water to split

I'm trying to "catch" wild yeast for the first time. 36 hours ago I mixed a cup of flour and a cup of water and left it out on a shelf with a paper towel over the top. It's been between 45 and 70 ...
4
votes
2answers
290 views

Food-safe rotary evaporator grease

For those of you who have rotary evaporators or other chemistry glassware in the kitchen, what do you use to grease the ground glass taper/ ball joints so that the lubricant does not either absorb or ...
4
votes
2answers
632 views

By what reactions do moisture and light steal away my coffee's freshness?

Typically, the standard advice for prolonging your coffee is to store it in an air-tight, light-tight, dry container. At a chemical level, what happens when coffee is left in humid or sunny conditions ...
4
votes
1answer
90 views

Adding cold water during cooking of beans and cooking time

After soaking dry beans, I place beans on heat, so they boil for couple of hours, and they cook pretty well. But if I add just one cup of cold water (at room temperature) during boiling, temperature ...
4
votes
4answers
6k views

Why does salt prevent soy milk from curdling in hot coffee?

As many people have experienced, soy milk will often curdle in hot coffee. I've experienced this myself with both instant and fresh coffee, and with my homemade soy milk (not my favorite soy milk ...
4
votes
2answers
677 views

Estimating the fat content of homemade chicken foot gelatin

I recently simmered a pot of chicken feet (including skin) for the first time and made an astonishingly gelatinous gelatin. It's clearly suffused with chicken fat, but I have no idea how much -- I ...
3
votes
3answers
802 views

Create hot “sauce” from capsaicin extract

There are a lot of hot sauces like "Blairs Mega Death" with more than 500.000 scoville heat units. However, they do have some odd taste, which I don't really like. So I'm thinking of creating a sauce ...
3
votes
1answer
885 views

How come mere water buffalo milk and lemon juice mixture turn into yogurt?

Yogurt is produced by the fermentation of lactose in milk by the bacteria of yogurt-ferment. Without those bacteria it is not possible to make yogurt. But surprisingly, water buffalo milk and lemon ...
3
votes
2answers
75 views

What is the difference between a thickener and an emulsifier?

I ask this because I have used a minuscule amount of Xanthan Gum to slightly thicken a chilli sauce I have made. However upon looking at the ingredients of many popular chilli sauces they all tend to ...
3
votes
4answers
3k views

Why does strata have to come to room temperature before baking?

I've made strata a few times before, usually for brunches where I have a number of guests coming over and don't want to spend all my time in the kitchen. I always follow instructions in the recipe; I ...
3
votes
2answers
268 views

All else held equal, does a pot of tea have more total caffeine than a mug?

Let's say you have one tea bag and can either brew it in a mug of boiling water, or a larger tea kettle of boiling water. The temperature, steeping time, type of tea bag, etc. are held constant. ...
3
votes
1answer
115 views

Vinegar in stock

One day I finished cooking a beef stock. When I poured the stock into a glass bowl and added some vinegar, a cloudy precipitate formed and remained suspended in the stock, leaving it somewhat cloudy. ...
3
votes
1answer
621 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

Differences between gel and gelatine

Are they physically different? If so, what is the difference, between a gel and gelatine, or it's proccesses gelation and gelling (gelatinization. gelatinisation)?
3
votes
1answer
114 views

How can I avoid getting swindled? How can I detect polyphosphates in fish fillets?

Fish fillets are treated with polyphosphates for several reasons, but mainly to increase their weight (and hence the profit). According to this FAO paper: The first and universal effect of all ...
3
votes
3answers
3k views

Dissolving Egg Shell

I know that an egg shell is made up of approximately 92% Calcium Carbonate. The remaining percentage of the mass is a protein matrix. I know that vinegar (5% acetic acid) dissolves the Calcium ...
3
votes
1answer
377 views

Why brewed coffee in a pot needs a lid?

Coffee in an electric drip brewer (a model like this) goes all murky brown and opaque very fast, when the pot is left without a lid. With lid, it stays translucent and bright dark brown for quite a ...
2
votes
2answers
237 views

Aiding the Maillard reaction: Baking Powder or Baking Soda?

I will attempt to cook a Thai Green Chicken Curry. I'll be using cubed boneless chicken thigh which I would like to brown really well. I remember reading somewhere that Baking Powder or Baking Soda ...
2
votes
2answers
35 views

Is there a comprehensive overview of food colors?

I found a small list of food additives compiled by the FDA, but it looks rather incomplete and somewhat unspecific. For example, some colors like gold (probably the real thing) or silver (no idea) ...
2
votes
2answers
3k views

PH and sour / acid taste

I had always thought low pH foods had a noticeable sour (acid) taste, and vice-versa. But when reading The Bread Builders by Daniel Wing & Allan Scott, on page 54, it says: The sour taste of ...
2
votes
1answer
136 views

Preserving Nerds / Pop Rocks so they activate in the mouth and not in the food

I want to be able to use Nerds and/or Pop rocks in cooking. However, unless the food is ultra dry, the food itself activates / dissolves it; I want it activated in the mouth. a) Is there a way to do ...
2
votes
1answer
268 views

Flavor and Chemical Composition of Thyme

What is the flavor of Thyme? What chemicals give it this flavor?