Does anyone know 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 different foods and their relation with changes in flavor etc.

Also: do you know a reliable source to understand what is the purpose of all food additives used by the industry? Here I am not thinking about colorant/preservatives and the like, but more about the "strange supernumerary" ingredients we can see on industrial food's labels.


2 Answers 2


McGee on Food and Cooking: An Encyclopedia of Kitchen Science, History and Culture will answer most questions on what the chemistry is behind most cooking processes, without being too academic.

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    For a more academic look at the chemistry of the subject find Hervé This is one of the founders of the Molecular Gastronomy movement. Jul 22, 2010 at 14:51
  • +1 excellent book, in frequent use in my home. I daren't take it to work as I'm sure someone would borrow it!
    – daniel
    Jul 22, 2010 at 17:03
  • is there a particular book you would recommend to get started with molecular gastronomy? Sep 30, 2010 at 14:33
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    @FordBuchanan: That book doesn't appear to be available in the U.S. for some reason, although this one is. Do you know how they're related?
    – Flimzy
    Oct 20, 2011 at 20:50
  • Yes, that's the US edition. Nov 16, 2011 at 14:55

To update this 2010 question, McGee is still active and an excellent primary source. He has done more work in addition to the book in the accepted answer. You might also look into Arielle Johnson, formerly of MIT and currently Alton Brown's chief science officer. She has a ton of experience.

I believe both McGee and Johnson have new books coming out soon.

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