All about the scientific theories behind food. Cooking myths debunked here.

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4
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1answer
3k views

Will potatoes turn brown / gray in oil?

When I was a fry cook we made fresh fries and kept them in a bucket of water to keep them from turning brown (not sure if that's oxidation or what), will oil inhibit the same chemical reaction? I ...
6
votes
2answers
969 views

Using seltzer to help a marinade

I saw the host on a cooking show claim that using seltzer in a marinade will help the flavors better penetrate meat via the carbonation. Is there any truth to this, and how would it actually work? ...
10
votes
3answers
25k views

Is it scientifically verified that bananas will ripen faster when kept in a bowl with other fruit?

I've heard you shouldn't keep bananas in a bowl with other fruit. But they all look so happy together. What I'd like to see is hard science here. Or at least documented and repeatable observation. ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

How can I reduce nitrate concentration in vegetables before or during cooking?

Can someone tell me how to minimize nitrate concentration in raw vegetables before cooking them? I need this advice very much because I'm cooking vegetables for my infant son, and I've heard that high ...
3
votes
4answers
6k views

What are best practices for using Yoghurt as a Marinade?

I'm cooking for 30, Lamb Chops are on the menu and I want to do them in a Yogurt Marinade. I've done Yogurt Marinades with mixed results and I wonder if there are some best practices? specifically: ...
26
votes
5answers
20k views

Is “until juices run clear” a valid test for poultry doneness? Why or why not?

I've come across this particular recommendation many times in various recipes and cookbooks and probably even given it out myself once or twice. Poultry is sufficiently cooked when the juices run ...
5
votes
2answers
3k views

Commercial Sponge Cake Improver?

Many years ago (35+) my grandmother received a container of a 'sponge cake improver' from a family member whom was a commercial baker. She describes it as looking like a thick amber liquid or paste. ...
13
votes
2answers
10k views

What does beating eggs actually do (chemically speaking)?

When I look at a lot of recipes, any eggs usually have to be beaten before they're added. If it's all going to be mixed anyway (and well, in dough for example) is it really necessary?
11
votes
4answers
1k views

Does preparation of food change the nutritional content with respect to fat type?

I apologize in advance for my lack of knowledge in how a fat comes to be saturated, and perhaps therein lies the answer to this question. However, due to my wife's gall stones I need to remove hard to ...
5
votes
1answer
177 views

Why does horseradish paste “curdle” when cooked?

I once made a tuna marinade that included some imitation wasabi paste. Usually when I cook like this, once the fish is done I cook down the marinade into a thicker sauce. In this case, the sauce ...
8
votes
5answers
51k views

Beef: Red on the outside, brown on the inside

Take bright-red ground beef and put it in a freezer for a few days. After taking it out and letting it thaw, it looks fairly red on the outside, but brown on the inside. Why is that? From the ...
6
votes
6answers
1k views

What's causing the metallic aftertaste in my Nutraloaf?

Thanks to all of the wonderful help thus far, I've finally been able to make my Überfood. It's called "Nutraloaf", and is kind of like a meatloaf with a bunch of other stuff in it. It has no real ...
6
votes
4answers
926 views

How can I make an Überfood?

Each day, you're supposed to get a certain number of servings of grains, vegetables, fats, etc. You know, the food pyramid. However, instead of going to all the trouble to prepare three meals with ...
10
votes
3answers
2k views

What are the advantages of using a stove instead of an oven?

Are there any advantages to using a stove instead of oven? As a woman of science, this is a question that has been lingering in my noggin for a very long time. The main points I'd like to see ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

When creating a recipe, what determines whether 2 ingredients will go well together?

Over the weekends when I have more time to play in the kitchen, I often experiment by putting things together just to see how they taste/interact with each other. I've been doing this pretty randomly ...
24
votes
16answers
5k views

Books that explain the science of cooking?

I have been cooking for a while now, but its mostly what I picked up watching others cook. I usually experiment with ingredients, try out a few things, and learn from there. In short, there is nothing ...
14
votes
2answers
22k views

Why do red onions turn blue or green when cooking sometimes?

I cooked a pot of beans with some red onions last night. Today for lunch when I got them out of the fridge, all of the onions had turned a blue/green colour! They still taste ok, but sure looks ...
12
votes
1answer
6k views

Why do microwave ovens make bread rubbery?

Why does heating bread (cinnamon buns) in a microwave give it a rubbery texture, when a regular oven doesn't? What are the chemical or structural changes?
5
votes
1answer
423 views

TVP - textured vegetable protein

Can anyone tell me how TVP is produced?
14
votes
2answers
2k views

The science of confit

In recent weeks I have made both duck leg and pork belly confit with rich tasting and great texture results. I want to experiment with this technique further but to do so, and avoid wasting meat and ...
12
votes
1answer
2k views

Why does roasting vegetables before pureeing into soup affect the flavour?

Last night I made a butternut squash soup. The recipe said to roast some squash and onion for 45 mins before boiling with stock for 15 and then pureeing. Is anyone able to explain (in moderate depth) ...
11
votes
1answer
3k views

What happens to the flavour of meat when you cook it Star Anise with Onions?

What exactly is the chemical reaction that occurs when you cook Star Anise with Onions? According to Heston Blumenthal doing this intensifies the flavour of meat. Ultimately what I want to know is ...
19
votes
2answers
6k views

What is that gooey stuff from okra?

When cooking okra in a bit of water, the water becomes gooey. What does the okra release that makes the water slimy? Would the goo have other culinary uses (as an additive to thicken sauces or ...
7
votes
3answers
13k views

Why would cooked spinach contain more iron than raw?

I've been researching the nutrient content of various foods and I've found that cooked spinach appears to have more iron than raw spinach (3.57 mg / 100g vs 2.71 mg /100g). Intuitively, I would have ...
13
votes
7answers
21k views

Why doesn't chocolate go bad?

After all it has oil and sugar in it. Why doesn't bacteria love it? Thanks!
8
votes
2answers
280 views

Does chopping steak negate the benefit of using better meat?

A sub shop I liked to go to in college offered two kinds of cheesesteak: the "'regular' cheese steak sub" and the "Filet Mignon steak sub." The only difference between the two was the cut of meat ...
12
votes
2answers
5k views

“Cooking” with acid (ceviche)

At a tappas bar, I had shrimp ceviche. In this dish, the shrimp is "cooked" not by high temperature but by the citric acid of its marinade. This would be really fun to make at home. For such dishes, ...
4
votes
2answers
3k views

Does marinating break down proteins the way brining does?

Brining makes meat tender because the salt (and some sugar) breaks down proteins. Shouldn't a salty/sugary marinade do the same thing?
13
votes
10answers
19k views

What causes the difference between Maine and Canadian lobsters?

In a first-season episode of the US TV show Kitchen Nightmares, the well-known chef Gordon Ramsay states that there's a "big difference [in] taste and flavor" between Maine lobsters and Canadian ...
43
votes
2answers
52k views

Why can applesauce be used in place of oil?

In many recipes, mostly desserts, it is suggested that you can substitute oil with applesauce to reduce the fat content. But why applesauce? Is there something special about applesauce or are there ...
36
votes
3answers
6k views

Why do tomatoes get so hot?

Ever noticed how certain foods seem to get a lot hotter than others? I almost never burn my tongue or mouth... except on tomatoes; Pizza sauce, tomatoes in panini sandwiches or spaghetti sauce. ...
10
votes
3answers
4k views

Is MSG necessary or what to replace it with?

I have always heard that you should stay away MSG. For example when buying bouillon crystals we should always make sure that it doesn't contain MSG. Yet I came across this recipe for spinach soup that ...
11
votes
2answers
780 views

How does salmonella get into eggs?

Since a few hundred million eggs have been recalled, I'm wondering how salmonella gets into eggs in the first place. Is it getting on the shells from the environment (or the hen)? Is it inside the ...
5
votes
2answers
337 views

Why did my coppa get spicier after being microwaved?

I wanted to put some spicy, crispy, crumbled coppa over a pasta dish. I put it in the microwave and it crisped up very well. It was however much spicier after cooking than before. Why did it get ...
13
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1answer
2k views

Why do bananas turn black in the refrigerator?

I've noticed that a banana in the refrigerator will turn pitch black in just a few hours. Why is this?
7
votes
1answer
832 views

Naturally occuring mono- and diglycerides?

If you read ingredients on processed foods, you will see mono- and diglycerides listed frequently. Fats are triglycerides - there are three chains of fatty acids trailing off the glycerol head of the ...
22
votes
5answers
21k views

Does microwaving destroy nutrients in food?

After answering this article, I did some research on microwaving killing vitamins and nutrients in food. I very quickly learned that this is a touchy subject, even among nutritionists, and nobody (at ...
11
votes
2answers
2k views

Light vs Dark Brown Sugar

Is there a practical difference between light and dark brown sugar? I ask b/c I've seen many recipes specify one or the other. Do they really behave differently in some way?
8
votes
3answers
2k views

What's the Effect of Browning Butter

From a taste perspective, I love the nutty flavor of browned butter. From a culinary perspective, I'm curious what the process does to the butter. I used browned and cooled butter in cookies ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

Why blanche vegetables before freezing?

I have a bumper crop of french beans, runners, and (earlier in the summer) peas. I know that we're supposed to blanche vegetables prior to freezing and my general purpose cookbooks tell me how long to ...
22
votes
2answers
881 views

What is the chemical process behind the way you cook a risotto?

Cooking risotto seems to differ from regular rice in two important ways: you stir the risotto regularly you only introduce liquid a little bit at a time What is the effect of these two steps ...
8
votes
3answers
294 views

Difference between natural and organic

For products such as bread, state they are either natural or organic, what is the difference?
0
votes
0answers
241 views

Substitute for Salt [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What are some good substitutes for salt for those on low sodium diets? What is the very best substitute for salt, and still tastes great?
8
votes
9answers
2k views

What food additives or chemicals do you use in your cooking at home?

Beyond the obvious: baking powder/baking soda/gelatin/yeast: What food additives or chemical products do you use in your home cooking? Agar agar? Lecithin? Xanthan gum? What would a relatively ...
39
votes
7answers
5k views

Why do some foods taste better the next day?

Many people think that certain foods, like lasagna, many stews and hearty soups, tomato sauce and so forth taste better the next day. My question is, is that really true, and if so, why? The ...
5
votes
1answer
775 views

Is time a factor in Caramelization?

A lot of cooking involves caramelization, and I want to get a better understanding it. Does caramelization happen instantly when each sugar molecule reaches the correct temperature, or does the sugar ...
17
votes
3answers
7k views

What job is the fat doing when I prepare bread dough, and what to expect if I use the wrong amount?

I've been baking bread for years and no longer really measure the ingredients. But I'm no expert on the science of what I'm doing. I add fat (lard) because I've always added fat. What job does the ...
16
votes
3answers
6k views

Why is a copper bowl recommended for whipping cream and egg whites?

They say you can get the whipped cream or egg whites "higher" or "stiffer" if you use a copper bowl. Why is that?
5
votes
1answer
1k views

Why does adding extra flour help with high altitude baking?

When baking at high altitude it seems that most recipes advise to include a little more flour to the mix. Is it related to boiling point?
4
votes
1answer
500 views

What are good resources to learn food chemistry?

Did anyone knows of some good resources to start learning about food chemistry? I am thinking specifically about a description of the chemical processes involved e.g. in cooking/preparing the ...