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

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3
votes
1answer
90 views

Why my meatballs sweated all of their fat?

I have made simple meatballs with red onions, some eggs, drizzle of olive oil and chopped scallions. Put them into the oven at 220c (440f) and this is what came out: They sweated all of their fat ...
4
votes
3answers
875 views

When making fried rice, how does the amount of heat affect the taste of the food?

This answer talks about the amount of heat required for cooking fried rice which tastes similar to restaurants. I want to understand the science behind it. Please explain.
125
votes
11answers
72k 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
2answers
4k 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. ...
5
votes
5answers
6k views

Does placing a metal spoon in an open bottle of sparkling wine (etc.. .) help keep its fizz?

Does placing a metal spoon in an open bottles of bubbles, sparkling wine & Champagne help keep its fizz ? If so why is this ?
9
votes
2answers
7k views

What determines how well cheese melts

I have had my fair share of eating cheese and experimenting with them. Sometimes they come out heavenly while other times, it turn out to be a huge flop. Usually when it flops, it's because I am ...
5
votes
0answers
92 views

Making pork pernil, and had a slight “lasagna battery” issue - is it safe to eat?

I am in the process of making the cook's illustrated recipe for pork pernil. For the first hour, you heat marinated pork at 450, covered tightly in a roasting pan with aluminum foil. Lo, pulling it ...
14
votes
2answers
7k 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?
7
votes
1answer
5k views
0
votes
3answers
372 views

How to cook the food such that no acrylamide is formed?

How to cook the food such that Maillard reaction doesn't form acrylamide? http://sciencefare.org/2011/06/01/maillard-reaction/ When food is cooked quickly at a high temperature, the Maillard ...
13
votes
4answers
17k 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 ...
57
votes
8answers
114k 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?
1
vote
2answers
299 views

Can the duration of the whistle determine if food inside a pressure cooker is cooked

Building upon this question, I was wondering if the duration of the whistle can be used to determine if the food inside a pressure cooker is cooked. As suggested by a couple of answers in the ...
1
vote
1answer
47 views

Cure #1 in Brine for Brisket

I'm trying for the first time to cure a second cut brisket (1.8 lbs.) to make pastrami (after curing the meat I will smoke it and then steam it). I followed a recipe from the Stanley Marianski book ...
3
votes
1answer
172 views

Does soaking dry beans before cooking prevent flatulence?

There are all kinds of opinions on whether or not soaking beans helps decrease flatulence. Some say adding things like baking soda, lemon juice, salt, or other things to the bath helps the effect. ...
7
votes
8answers
10k views

Steel Cut Oats: cooking in milk vs. water

Most of the recipes I've seen (including Good Eats) recommend simmering the oats in 4 cups of liquid for 1 cup of oats. Alton Brown recommends 3 cups of water for ~25 mins and then (1/2 cup of milk + ...
3
votes
2answers
506 views

How do I thicken Advocaat without evaporating any alcohol?

To resurrect an 1-2 year old English Christmas dark fruitcake, I removed the icing and marzipan, infused it liberally with whiskey liqueur - then cut it into cubes. I then served it with cocktail ...
1
vote
1answer
121 views

Bubbles on the Noodle surface

I observe lots of bubbles on the noodle surface after frying. What causes this and how can I control it?
23
votes
8answers
31k views

Will spoiled food always make you sick?

Kind of a strange question, but say something has spoiled, i.e. smells bad, tastes bad, etc. Will it actually always make you sick? Like for instance spoiled dressing, let's say it tastes sour, ...
4
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
4k 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?
6
votes
3answers
5k views

Is there any advantage to adding salt to onion while frying?

Is there any advantage to adding salt to onion while frying itself rather than adding it the last? My friends say it removes moisture from onion. Is it true? Why is removing moisture from onion ...
4
votes
2answers
5k views

How do food producers determine expiration dates on products and ingredients?

It is well known that food expiration dates are somewhat arbitrary. For some foods, they are much more important than others -- for example, you can pretty easily tell on your own if milk has gone bad ...
2
votes
1answer
6k views

Why do my stored cashews smell like fish?

I have a 30 Oz plastic jar of Roasted, Unsalted Archer Farms Cashew Nuts. I've noticed that after having it 'open' for a week or two (i.e. the lid is tightly screwed onto the jar, but the initial ...
41
votes
13answers
25k views

Why should I soak beans before cooking?

Every recipe says I should soak beans in water overnight before cooking. Why? I did some experiments. I have tried soaked and unsoaked beans from the same batch. There was no difference in cooking ...
7
votes
9answers
39k 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 ...
14
votes
10answers
28k 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 ...
0
votes
0answers
43 views

Adjusting protien pH before cooking

Cooks Illustrated has a recipe for Sichuan pork where pork tenderloin is marinated for 15 mins in a baking soda solution (1t NaHCO3/ 8T H2O) and then rinsed before cooking. The goal being to raise ...
0
votes
2answers
567 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
92 views

What made my pancakes taste fizzy?

I made pancakes a couple times recently, and they had a strange reaction to some frozen raspberries we had. When we put the raspberries onto the pancakes, they had a strange fizzy and sour taste. We ...
7
votes
5answers
12k 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
12k views

Why is there cornstarch in powdered sugar?

I was looking up how to make my own powdered/confectioner/icing sugar. Some 'recipes' say that you should add a bit of cornstarch while others just leave this out. So what is the role of cornstarch? ...
10
votes
2answers
365 views

Why do we dimple a focaccia?

When I was making a focaccia earlier today, I realised that I've never been told why we dimple them before baking. A quick Googling didn't reveal anything, so I'm asking here: why do we make dimples ...
17
votes
3answers
10k 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 ...
15
votes
4answers
3k views

Why do chocolate chips stay softer after being baked?

I could be wrong, but I have the feeling that after baking chocolate chip cookies, the chocolate chips are still melted; or at least a lot softer than before you bake the cookies. It's logical that ...
2
votes
1answer
65 views

How do you make the wishbone break easier?

Real simple. Kids love breaking the wishbone from a turkey or chicken. What do I need to do so that the wishbone has a nice crack (more brittle) when they are pulling it.
1
vote
1answer
101 views

Why does fish stick to a pan which is not very hot?

As we have seen there are several threads about preventing the fish from sticking to the pan by making the pan very hot. I want to understand why does the fish stick to a pan which is not very hot. ...
2
votes
1answer
52 views

Why are Parathas smeared with fat/oil within layers?

The difference between plain roti and plain parathas is that parathas have oil in between their layers, and roti's don't. Even after we put oil in the layers we still smear the front and back sides ...
16
votes
1answer
1k views

What's the science behind making German potato dumplings (Knödel) fluffy but not fall apart?

First off, I'm German, so you would think I know, but it seems traditional cuisine has not been passed down my family tree. This question really consists of two parts: What makes potatos dough (or ...
5
votes
2answers
160 views

Effect of carbonated water on the rising of the dough?

Some recipes suggest to add carbonated water instead of milk or water. Does this practice accelerate the rising of the dough and why?
2
votes
1answer
104 views

Optimal stirring technique: I read that stirring liquids in a straight line is better than in a circle, but I can't find any references

I remember reading that some scientific researchers in Japan (I think) discovered that when it came to stirring liquids, moving a spoon back and forth was more efficient at mixing the liquids than if ...
35
votes
5answers
53k 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
353 views

Why do dumplings float when they are ready?

Most dumpling recipes—including those discussed on this site—claim that the dumplings will be ready when they float to the surface. I have two interrelated questions: Does this rule ever fail? For ...
2
votes
2answers
3k views

How are commercial protein bars made so dense?

I am trying to make protein bars at home from protein powder and natural sweeteners. I have basically all the ingredients mentioned on the pack, but mine come out much softer, whether or not I cook ...
6
votes
2answers
149 views

Should I rest pancake batter?

I read somewhere that pancake batter should rest. This confuses me. On the one hand, mixing the wet ingredients with flour creates gluten. Resting lets the gluten relax, so that I don't get chewy ...
2
votes
1answer
98 views

What physically/chemically happens to a vegetable when it is cooked?

I've discovered that if I eat raw vegetables, I can't digest them well if at all. If I steam, boil, nuke, bake, grill, or otherwise cook the vegetables, I feel fine. What are the physical/chemical ...
5
votes
1answer
91 views

What is the purpose of baking a cooked pot pie filling?

I will be making chicken pot pie for about 350 people at a conference, but I'm making the filling separate from the biscuit topping. The plan is to serve the pot pie in a disposable container, ...
3
votes
1answer
117 views

How much citric acid should I use to preserve mayonnaise on a cups/ml ratio?

I was thinking of making mayo for sandwiches to get me through the winter and was wondering if I could make fairly large batches that would keep for a long period of time with the aid food grade ...
7
votes
2answers
2k views

Which foods are certain to never cause food poisoning?

After a nasty bout of food poisoning lasting nearly 5 days (rare I know) my trust levels and appetite for certain foods have dropped considerably however my inquisitiveness kicked in... ...from a ...
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vote
3answers
1k views

Garlic Overflow — Why won't my olive oil stay in its jug?

I'm the kind of chef who chops up whatever the local bazaar has that week, adds a random amount of seasonings until the color suits my fancy and then cooks it. Somehow. Most days I don't go hungry. ...