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85

The salt adds flavor, but it also helps reduce the gelation of the starch in the pasta. The starch in food is the form of microscopic grains. When these grains come into contact with water, they will trap some of it (think cornstarch in cold water), but when the water is hot they swell up like balloons and merge with each other, and you have starch ...


52

Fundamentally, the reason for this substitution is that applesauce contains pectin. In baking, the role of oil is to coat the flour, preventing it from combining with the water (or other wet ingredients) and developing gluten. Gluten is what causes dough to rise, and also gives elasticity to the final product - what most people think of as "chewiness." ...


42

You will never fully cook away alcohol, only reduce the amount. See Alcohol retention in food preparation, or for the quick table, see wikipedia. They covered this on an episode of America's Test Kitchen, and concluded that surface area matters -- a wider vessel would cook off more alcohol; it wasn't just a function of time.


36

Placing fruit in a bag will help hasten the ripening for only a few fruits. Most fruits will not ripen (ever) once they have been picked. The only fruits that ripen once they're picked are bananas, avocados, pears, mango, and kiwifruit. Ripeness in fruits is based on sugar content, not color, thus most tomatoes in grocery stores have no flavor because ...


35

Chicken juices contain a soupy mix of proteins including haemoglobin (which gives blood its red colour when mixed with oxygen), and some myoglobin (which gives red meat its red colour when mixed with oxygen). Up to about 140F, they are unchanged, but heat them to between 140F and 160F and they lose their ability to bind oxygen and so their colours change. So ...


33

Another physics digression. All cooked food gets hot, and everything in any given dish will have the same temperature {*}. The tomatoes don't get hotter than the other ingredients. But they do have a tendency to burn more than certain other substances, so the question is "Why?". You get burned when a portion of your flesh reaches a high enough ...


32

Essentially, the exterior crust and the interior evenness are both side effects of the distribution of water. The Maillard Reaction - the chemical reaction responsible for the brown crust - happens at about 150° C. Generally you're baking at a much higher temperature than this - say 200° C. The first question one might ask is, why is the crust only on the ...


27

The ripening itself is caused by ethylene gas released by the food, which is trapped by any kind of bag. As far as I know, there's nothing inherently special about a brown paper bag, other than the fact that it's porous and thus still allows some air to get in and out. Plastic ziplock bags have no ventilation, so they don't work nearly as well.


25

It is simply water content. Water has a much higher heat capacity than anything else we eat. You might think fats have a higher heat capacity, but that is an illusion - they can get much hotter because they don't boil at 100 C, but they hold considerably less heat than water in a given quantity. Tomatoes are almost all water, thus they can burn your mouth ...


24

reference: http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/conductive-heat-transfer-d_428.html Let's take a moment to look at the heat transfer equation. Looking at it, we can see the ways to get more efficient heat transfer q / A = k dT / s q / A = heat transfer per unit area (W/m2) k = thermal conductivity (W/mK) dT = temperature difference (oC) s = wall thickness ...


23

Take an egg from the carton and 'spin' it on the work counter. If it spins, it's cooked, if it does anything else, it's not.


21

One reason is to remove some of the indigestible complex sugars that cause gas. Another reason is that beans are dirty, so you're just cleaning them with the soaking. If the recipe wants the beans to be cooked in the water used for soaking, the washing needs to be done before the soaking. On top of that the soaking can reduce cooking time considerably, ...


19

A study conducted by the US Department of Agriculture’s Nutrient Data Laboratory calculated the percentage of alcohol remaining in a dish based on various cooking methods. The results are as follows: Preparation Method and Percent of Alcohol Retained alcohol added to boiling liquid & removed from heat: 85% alcohol flamed: 75% no heat, stored ...


19

Iron is simply an element, so it cannot be destroyed by cooking (or generally temperature changes), as vitamins and other organic structures potentially can. Cooked spinach inevitably has a much lower water content, thus the relative density of all other components must increase. So gram for gram, it makes sense that cooked spinach should have a higher ...


19

The main purpose of beating an egg is to "denature" the protein within the egg. Proteins are long chains of amino acids and they have lots of internal chemical bonds, which hold them together into tightly contained units. When a protein is denatured, those internal bonds break and the amino acid chains unravel and become elongated. At the same time, atoms ...


19

There has been thorough scientific research done on this question. The main problem with Alton Brown's recommendation is that his room temperature "rest" is not long enough, since the scientific literature recommends 24-72 hours at room temperature, depending on acid concentration. The most common acids used in mayonnaise recipes are acetic acid ...


18

Vinegar and salt both help the proteins (albumin) to denature (unwind) more quickly and link up to form a network of proteins, thus setting the egg. The quicker the proteins denature the less feathering there will be around the edges and the nicer looking the egg.


18

Cooking causes certain chemical reactions within the food being cooked, many of which produce (and consume) compounds which have various flavours. I don't know the real specifics, but I can outline why your two cases are different, and you can verify it visually. If you take a potato, cut it up and boil it, it stays pale. The texture changes to become much ...


18

You are doing precisely the opposite of 'normal' procedure, which is to put the lid on the pan until the water starts boiling, then remove the lid (either partially or completely) to prevent boiling over. A reduction in the hob temperature will also probably be necessary, and is in any case desirable - mercilessly boiling any vegetable is rarely a good ...


17

It does go bad. The shelf life of opened dark or bittersweet chocolate is one year. Milk chocolate lasts only about eight months, due to the presence of milk. The reason it has such a long shelf life, even opened, is due to the cocoa butter. Cocoa butter is a fat, but it is primarily a saturated fat, and thus is solid at room temperature. Saturated fats ...


17

The slime is called mucilage. It is around the seeds on the inside of the pod. It is made of protein and carbohydrates including fiber. The mucilage is (as you alluded in your question) used for thickening gumbos and similar stews. Besides this, I've only ever seen it referred to as an annoyance and avoided by leaving the pod whole or dry cooking like ...


17

Short answer: tomato sauce is a non-Newtonian fluid. Another interesting link can be found here. Tomato sauce in an interesting creature. Think about ketchup. You try you shake some out and nothing. So you tap the bottle a little bit, still nothing. Tap it a little harder, and a little harder, and suddenly boom: a flood of ketchup. The "jumpiness" of tomato ...


16

As far as I'm aware there are a few possible reasons for this to occur. Young garlic can turn green when the presence of an acid, in this case the butter. As a possible chemical reaction between the garlic and certain types of cooking utensil, such as cast iron or copper. It will sometimes change colour if it has prolonged exposure to bright sunlight. ...


16

For pastas at least, the noodles have a chance to absorb more flavor directly into the bland noodles. Same with potatoes in stews. If the dish cools and is then reheated, more water is lost into the air. This effectively reduces the dish and intensifies flavors.


16

The pigments that give onions the colour behave like a litmus test. They are red in the naturally acidic onion. They turn green/blue in an alkaline environment. It sounds like when you cooked the beans it created that alkaline environment to cause the colour change. See Here.


15

It means that the pasta is seasoned as it is cooked. To see if this matters to you, cook up some pasta in plain water and then some in salted water and see if you can taste the difference.


15

@Adam A is close -- it's not an issue of surface area on potency, it's an issue of damage to the garlic. The 'strong' taste of garlic comes from a reaction as chemicals are released so they can mix (alliin and alliinase) When you cook the garlic whole (as you would for roasted garlic), you will never get this reaction, as you'll break down the chemicals. ...


15

Anything that breaks down due to heat is going to break down no matter HOW you cook it. Boiling only "destroys" nutrients by leaching them away into the water, which is the same reason that other people say that steaming/microwaving is better. Thiamine, for example, is highly water soluble, so boiling is out. But it also breaks down at 100C, so you can't ...


15

@Michael touched on a big part of it -- tomatoes are mostly water, and the specific heat of water is rather high. (the specific heat of salt water is even higher). But in the case of pizza, there's another issue -- melted cheese is a good insulator. So, you bring up the temperature of the sauce to near boiling, but then the cheese keeps it from cooling ...


15

It's to prevent caking. See, for example, the second FAQ on Domino Sugar's website: It is not recommended to substitute confectioners sugar for granulated sugar. Since confectioners sugar has a much finer texture, and it contains a small percentage of cornstarch to prevent caking, substituting can give you unexpected results. Many shredded ...



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