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

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6
votes
2answers
557 views

Why does microwave popcorn burn?

I've been experimenting some with do it yourself microwave popcorn, and some trouble getting the 'burn time' right has led me to a question that I can't find a good, definitive answer to. What is the ...
5
votes
3answers
248 views

Why or why not beat an egg before adding?

When adding an entire raw egg at the same point in a recipe (not separating the yolk and white), what determines whether it should first be beaten, or dropped in whole? I've seen some recipes call for ...
40
votes
8answers
73k views

Cooking away alcohol

When you cook with wine or spirits, when does the alcohol cook away? Obviously high temperatures will do it, but how low of temperatures will work? Also, does it vary by the type of alcohol?
0
votes
2answers
82 views

Does whole milk or soy milk spoil faster? Why?

I'm doing a science fair project and I need some help. My question is does whole milk or soy milk spoil faster? Does anyone know which one spoils faster or if they spoil at the same rate? Please ...
10
votes
3answers
4k views

Why do marshmallows poof up so huge when put in the microwave?

As anyone who's put marshmallows in the microwave knows, they expand a ton! Sometimes they puff up to literally more than twice their original size (YouTube video for those who haven't seen it). So, ...
22
votes
2answers
10k views

How does a Miracle Thaw work?

Miracle Thaws are utensils for rapidly thawing foods. Put an ice cube on one and it melts before your eyes, yet the whole thing stays cool to the touch. How do they work? (Inspired by this ...
18
votes
2answers
6k views

Garlic turning green?

When I try to make garlic bread or, in general, something where the garlic is not in a liquid, it sometimes turns green while cooking! It's worth noting that the taste doesn't seem to really be "off", ...
4
votes
7answers
21k views

What happens if I brine my turkey for 2 days?

I have a logistical problem that leaves me with no fridge room for 2 days before Thanksgiving... I always brine my turkey, so I don't have any questions about that, but typically it's only an 8 - 10 ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

What limitations are there to sauteeing with water?

I was recently helping with some recipes and was instructed to use water for "sauteing" onions, celery, garlic, etc. in place of oil (scare quotes on "saute" since it involves frying in oil or other ...
3
votes
2answers
558 views

Should I boil canned food in water?

Do I have to boil canned food, specially tuna can, in water for twenty minutes? I think it's necessary to prevent food poisoning by botulism. However, currently that I am in Europe, I have not seen a ...
17
votes
7answers
3k views

Can food be boiled “extra fast/hard” in water?

Once water is boiling you can either leave the heat on quite high, or turn it down a bit so that it just keeps boiling. Apart from extra water vaporating, does this have any effect on the taste of ...
3
votes
3answers
4k views

Why does broccoli turn brown when steaming?

I steam my broccoli until it's 'al dente' and some buds turn brown. I've done a small search, but haven't found anything. I'm thinking maybe the steam is too hot or I'm steaming too long. What do ...
33
votes
5answers
36k views

Why does a brown paper bag speed ripening?

I often see this technique suggested as a way to speed ripening. Why does it? Also, is there any data available on how fast it ripens comparatively?
11
votes
2answers
6k views

How does soaking liver in milk work?

Soaking liver in milk is said to be a common technique that supposedly helps to remove impurities, softens flavour, and tenderises the liver. I tried it, and the liver turned out alright, but it got ...
11
votes
2answers
161 views

Do pan “pores” exist, what are they, and what are their effects?

There are a number of common cooking lore techniques which revolve around the idea of "pores" in the surface of a pan. Two of the ones I've heard most often: (1) When heating a pan where sticking is ...
4
votes
1answer
104 views

Baking soda accident in pretzel dough - Can it be salvaged?

I made a mistake and put the baking soda in the pretzel dough! Instead of using it for its intended purpose ( Boiling the pretzel dough in it before baking.) It was a box mix: Pretzel Creations ...
7
votes
6answers
3k views

How do I stop my pans boiling over?

Yesterday the wife and I decided to boil some potatoes in a normal non-stick pan. We added salt, potatoes and boiling water. We put this on an electric hob, with no lid at maximum heat (marked at ...
9
votes
2answers
503 views

Science of fast (high heat) vs. slow (low heat) scrambled eggs and omelets

There seems to be a lot of disagreement about cooking "light" (as in texture) scrambled eggs, which would seem to be one of the simplest of foods. (To be clear, I'm specifically asking about the ...
2
votes
3answers
66 views

how can I get guar gum to smoothly blend in juice?

I watched a demo clip of a guy who simply tossed a tbsp of guar gum powder into a cup of cold water and 5 minutes later, it looked and acted like a glass of slightly opaque jello. Yet, when I've tried ...
2
votes
0answers
54 views

my black garlic cooking in a rice cooker went brown and hard before black any ideas?

I have my garlic in the skins in a rice cooker on the warming setting after 7 days the garlic was brown dried out and hard, is it over cooked and not slowly caramelized? what is the purpose of ...
3
votes
3answers
484 views

Why did my soy (Silk) milk suddenly become as viscous as rubber cement?

I used about half of a quart of Silk Milk and returned it to my refrigerator. Two days later the remaining liquid had been replaced with a colloidal mass with a gooey consistency not unlike rubber ...
14
votes
2answers
21k 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
374 views

Why is it easier to separate a cold egg?

A lot of recipes that call for separating an egg, suggest that the egg be separated when cold rather than at room temperature even if it has to be brought to room temperature afterwards. I was just ...
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 ...
13
votes
10answers
18k 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
152 views

How does pudding make cake moister?

I've got a recipe that calls for adding a box of instant pudding mix to a box of cake mix (along with eggs, water, and oil) to make a cake moister. And there are lots of cake mixes that proclaim ...
13
votes
7answers
20k views

Why doesn't chocolate go bad?

After all it has oil and sugar in it. Why doesn't bacteria love it? Thanks!
7
votes
4answers
5k views

How do I cook with bay leaves?

I am an amateur hobbyist cook. So a lot of the time I will toss in a dash of something, taste the dish, and add a bit more. Experimenting sometimes with disastrous results... but I learn :) One spice ...
106
votes
9answers
50k views

Why add salt to the water when cooking pasta?

What is the effect of adding salt to the water when cooking pasta?
5
votes
1answer
378 views

How does “BHT added to packaging material” actually work?

This is not a question about the merits of BHA or BHT (butylated hydroxyanisole or butylated hydroxytoluene). It is a question about how BHA/BHT work when "added to packaging material". The BHA is ...
7
votes
1answer
3k views
4
votes
4answers
650 views

Why would pumpkin pie form a clear custard layer?

My PA Dutch grandma's pumpkin pie always had a thin layer of custard on the bottom. We have her recipe but none of us has been able to get the filling to separate... Anyone have any idea what might ...
0
votes
2answers
513 views

cake baking problem (white lumps of flour)

I have a cake recipe called oil cake that has been in my family for a long time. It calls for flour and sugar and to make a well and add egg, buttermilk, cocoa, pinch of salt, cinnamon, and oil. Then ...
1
vote
1answer
94 views

Binder, thickener, emulsifier for parmesan?

I want to make a paste for coating out of parmesan. With softer cheeses that's not so hard, but how do I blend a hard cheese like parmesan into a paste or colloid-like form? Any suggestions most ...
1
vote
1answer
43 views

Can we replace wheat flour totally with gluten and other grain flour like bhajra, oats etc?

Can we replace wheat flour totally with gluten and other grain flour like bhajra, oats etc? What is the amount of gluten added ?
2
votes
2answers
985 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
125 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
319 views

What makes lye food grade?

I've been looking around for lye to make pretzels and found few solutions for food grade lye. I want to continue using lye in my baking and would like to make my own lye going forward. The process ...
2
votes
2answers
198 views

Why commercial gummies do not melt?

I've noticed that commercial gummies do not melt, even when they are left in the sun, while home made gummies melt even at room temperatures sometimes. What is the secret ingredient? Sugar?
6
votes
3answers
4k 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
130 views

When do you hear the Ping sound of the lid sealing?

I am new to canning. I made applesauce this morning and I pulled them out of the water bath and put them on a towel on my counter to seal, but I never heard the "ping" sound of them sealing shut. When ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Is it incorrect when someones says you can lower acidity with sweetness?

It is commonly known that if your food is too acidic, you lower the acidity of the food by adding something sweet. Is this correct? Acidity can me measured by pH. Does the sweet actually raise the ...
4
votes
1answer
238 views

What is bearnaise sauce thickened by?

As from the title, what is Bearnaise sauce thickened by? There are a few different ingredients in bearnaise sauce that helps in thickening such as egg yolks, but how is it thickened and what other ...
3
votes
1answer
121 views

How does irradiated beef spoil?

So I usually buy irradiated beef. From what I understand, the beef is packaged, sealed, and the absolutely blasted with radiation. I'm a nuclear engineer for a living, so I know that most things ...
4
votes
1answer
40k views

What causes curdling and how can you prevent it?

Some sauces are more at risk to curdle than others. What exactly (ingredients, techniques, temperature...) causes this curdling? What can you do to have the curdling risk at minimum? I'm not asking ...
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, ...
6
votes
1answer
96 views

Does the freshness of the ingredient impact the longevity of the cooked dish?

Using ingredients that aren't fresh will generally negatively impact the flavor of the dish, but does it impact how long the cooked dish will last before it goes bad? For example, if I make two pots ...
1
vote
1answer
161 views

steam oven vs conventional oven

I am in a debate as to whether diced, marinated pork shoulder cooked in a vacuum bag in a regular conventional oven gives the same result as the same pork, cooked in a steam oven. The bagged pork had ...
2
votes
2answers
208 views

What is the purpose of heating agar powder

Is agar powder heated so that it will form a gel when it is cooled? if not then what is the purpose of boiling it?
1
vote
4answers
5k views

What alternative gelling agents can I use for jam and marmalade?

Rather than using natural pectin from the fruit being used or added pectin I am looking for an alternative setting/gelling agent that will enable me to get more jam from my two principle ingredients ...