Questions tagged [chemistry]

Questions about the chemical composition or properties of ingredients and dishes.

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53
votes
2answers
14k views

Why drain soaked rice?

When cooking black rice, I’ve been told I need to soak it for a few hours, then drain and finally cook with 1:3 parts regular rice (i.e., topped up with fresh water). Black rice is a type of ...
33
votes
7answers
13k views

Can one bake a cake with a cooked egg instead of a raw one?

This recent question about a person who wanted to bake a cake but only had a cooked egg left suggested me an even stupider one: is it possible to bake a cake with a cooked egg instead of a raw one? ...
30
votes
2answers
4k views

Why do shrimp / lobster / crab turn pink or red when cooking?

Cooking is a form of chemistry - so there must be a scientific reason behind this. Why do all crustaceans turn pink or red when cooked?
27
votes
7answers
34k views

How long is garlic butter safe, and why is it not a botulism risk like garlic in oil?

I've been making garlic butter for years, storing it for months at a time. When I read that garlic-in-oil can grow dangerous amounts of botulinum toxins after similar lengths of time, I wondered how ...
23
votes
3answers
7k views

How deeply will the flavors in a brine penetrate chicken?

I'm not asking about salt or "juiciness". I think there is enough evidence here and elsewhere to answer that question with "pretty deep, or all the way to the bone". My question concerns spices and ...
17
votes
3answers
66k views

Coconut Water from White vs Brown Coconuts

The warning label on each coconut describes how to treat the water within each. The water on the brown coconut is to be discarded; the water on the white coconut is safe for consumption. In what ...
16
votes
1answer
3k views

Why does my banana bread have a moist top?

My mother always made banana bread when I was growing up, and my favorite part was the the fact that the top of the loaf was sweet and moist, to the point that it would leave residue if you touched it!...
14
votes
3answers
20k views

Does chlorine evaporate from water when cooking?

Most municipal water supplies in the U.S. include noticeable levels of chlorine or chloramine added to kill microbes, and often adds an objectionable chemical smell. Does chlorine evaporate when ...
14
votes
3answers
60k views

What is the purpose of oil or butter in bread?

Specifically in wheat and potato breads, what is the purpose of adding oil or butter to the dough? I have always assumed it was just for flavor, but I suspect there is some background chemical ...
13
votes
1answer
1k views

Does sputtering butter mean that water is present?

When I place a pat of butter in a hot pan, the butter melts and begins to sputter and steam. Then steam bubbles pop which sends tiny grease drops flying out of the pan. This happens consistently ...
13
votes
4answers
27k views

homemade mint extract

I've got some mint in the yard (I think it's apple mint, as the leaves are very fuzzy and rounded) from which I'd like to make mint extract. No specific use in mind (except perhaps insect repellent), ...
12
votes
1answer
8k views

What determines the 'saltiness' of salt?

I've bought two brands of salt that are completely different in terms of 'salt' concentration(not sure if this is the correct terminology). I realized this because I needed three or four times more ...
12
votes
2answers
6k views

Why do people recommend cream of tartar when whipping egg whites to the exclusion of all other acids?

Virtually every single egg white recipe will say add some cream of tartar to egg whites to help them whip better because the cream of tartar will lower the pH and make it more stable. But if all it's ...
12
votes
2answers
4k 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, ...
11
votes
2answers
11k views

How does hydration of a sourdough affect baking features?

Looking at different recipes for sourdough starters, there's everything from a mix as dry as cookie dough to as wet as gruel. In this (danish) recipe from the acclaimed chef Claus Meyer of a pretty ...
11
votes
1answer
4k views

What happens with bread at >= 94˚C/201˚F? Or: Is temperature a reliable indicator of doneness?

So I baked a rye bread last night (in a bread pan). It was a new recipe for me and I had to adjust some things in it due to missing ingredients, so I could not fully rely on the time and temperature ...
10
votes
3answers
2k views

Does mayo “break”/decompose if you stop whisking then whisk the other way?

Is is true or an urban legend that if you whisk the opposite way while making mayonnaise (after you've whisked in one direction for a while), the mixture will be "undone" into its components?
10
votes
2answers
2k views

How does sunlight degrade cooking oil?

Why exactly is it recommended to store cooking oil away from sunlight? How does sunlight accelerate spoilage?
10
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
27k 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

What factors affect collagen to gelatin conversion?

I have a bunch of oxtails I've been braising for hours in an adobo sauce and they remain awfully tough. What I'd love to see happen is for that abundant connective tissue to melt away and coat each ...
9
votes
2answers
10k views

What is the film on top of tea?

The quiet surface of a cup of tea always seems to be covered by a thin, immovable film, even when convection currents are still moving things around inside the liquid at some speed. The surface ...
9
votes
1answer
2k views

Does the speed of opening of a bottle of wine influence its flavour?

While having a (good) bootle of wine at a friends place I've been told the following: The bottle should be uncorked slowly and silently, not to spoil its bouquet. This statement came as something ...
8
votes
3answers
12k views

What are the grey-black specks that appear when whipping cream in stainless steel bowl?

When we whip cream by hand in a stainless steel bowl, with a metal whisk, small grey specks, ~0.5-1mm in size, appear in the cream. The specks are squishy and can easily be smeared out. See attached ...
8
votes
1answer
17k views

Cooked meat diaper: toxic?

I accidentally left the meat diaper underneath my roast in a slow cooker. After 8 hours, the diaper is mostly disintegrated. I am able to fish out fragments, but big chunks seem to be missing. (For ...
8
votes
2answers
10k views

Do breadcrumbs really act as a binder in meat preparations?

I routinely hear that breadcrumbs are added to burgers and meatballs to bind them. For example, see the answers to this question: how to stop meatballs falling apart. On the other hand, I have heard ...
8
votes
1answer
6k views

What turned my garlic purple?

I commonly use a technique when caramelizing onions, in which I add the sliced onions to a pan with salt, oil, and water. The water softens the onions and helps cook them evenly such that by the time ...
8
votes
2answers
3k views

How do I calculate the final acidity of homemade vinegar?

I am making vinegar by mixing vinegar (containing the mother) and wine, and then allowing fermentation to occur. I am wondering how to calculate the final % acidity. Assume: I know the initial ...
8
votes
1answer
3k views

How can I tell which fruits etc. contain proteases?

After my second attempt at making a ginger mousse with gelatin and finding that it fails, I've discovered that fresh ginger contains a protease. I knew that pineapple does, and that it complicates ...
7
votes
2answers
29k views

Why do uncooked frostings that contain milk not need to be refrigerated?

I have seen (and used) recipes for icing and glaze that use uncooked milk in them, yet they do not need to be refrigerated. (For example, one with powdered sugar, milk, vanilla and butter or ...
7
votes
1answer
3k views

Cooking Chemistry: lemon juice/soymilk buttermilk substitute turning bitter and 'rising'

I made a soup recipe the other night (mainly potato, spinach, and veggie broth) that called for buttermilk. I substituted soymilk and lemon juice, reading online that that was a good substitution for ...
7
votes
2answers
179 views

“For optimal flavor, open the package 30 minutes before eating” - only temperature or also chemistry?

Packages of ham or smoked fish sometimes have a hint like the one I quoted in the title. They are usually stored in the fridge, so one part of the reason to take it out of the fridge and open it ...
6
votes
6answers
19k views

What can I do to prevent the gaseous side effect of sunchokes?

I'd love to eat sunchokes (aka Jerusalem artichokes or topinambour) more frequently, but the side effects (gas, abdominal discomfort) are a bummer. In a home kitchen, how can I prepare the sunchokes ...
6
votes
1answer
7k views

Difference between fermentation and leavening?

What is the technical difference between fermentation and leavening? Both cause bread to rise. Does fermentation only refer to the chemical process of one substance converting to another, which ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

How to calculate the pH of a lye solution?

I'm trying to figure out if I can substitute the catholyte from a salt water electrolysis system for a lye solution in pretzel making. In order to figure this out, I need to know the pH of my lye ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

How to sweeten bread without sugar

I know that sugar molecules are large and too many of them can prevent a proper gluten network from forming when making bread. What other things can be used to sweeten bread instead of sugar? I'm ...
6
votes
4answers
9k views

Why does salt prevent soy milk from curdling in hot coffee?

As many people have experienced, soy milk will often curdle in hot coffee. I've experienced this myself with both instant and fresh coffee, and with my homemade soy milk (not my favorite soy milk ...
6
votes
0answers
129 views

Inulin reduction in Jerusalem Artichokes [duplicate]

Last year we first planted Jerusalem Artichokes (Topinambour) in our vegetable garden. The plants did very well and we had quite a huge harvest. We found however that eating the tubers causes ...
5
votes
1answer
935 views

Does cumin contain curcumin? If not, where does the name come from?

According to Wikipedia, curcumin was originally isolated from tumeric. However, I haven't been able to find why it was named curcumin or whether or not it cumin is currently known to contain it.
5
votes
2answers
13k views

What is the maximum internal temperature of baked goods?

Obviously this will vary depending on the size/shape and ingredients used. But how hot does it get inside, say, a loaf of bread? A cake? How wide is the variation? What ingredients (or factors other ...
5
votes
1answer
487 views

The name or chemical compound responsible for a specific quality of some spices (numbness)

I'm putting together the results of a kitchen experiment and I'd like to be able to identify a phenomenon that I've noticed when using certain spices. I've felt it in some of what are often called "...
5
votes
3answers
4k views

How does the meat in Weisswurst get so white?

I have looked for the answer online, but no luck so far. Does the ice "burn" the meat and it gets white? How does it work?
5
votes
4answers
560 views

Why did my green tea muffins turn black?

I made green tea muffins following the recipe here. I like my muffins moist and fluffy, so I added banana as suggested by the recipe and replaced half of the baking powder with baking soda. I also ...
5
votes
2answers
3k views

How can I extract menthol powder from fresh mint/peppermint?

I have peppermint/mint growing in my garden backyard. I want to make Ice Cream for children and they are asking for some flavour paan ice cream in Hindi (mint ice cream) and for that I want Menthol ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

By what reactions do moisture and light steal away my coffee's freshness?

Typically, the standard advice for prolonging your coffee is to store it in an air-tight, light-tight, dry container. At a chemical level, what happens when coffee is left in humid or sunny conditions ...
5
votes
1answer
106 views

Preventing discoloration when making fresh mint liqueur

Twice I have tried to make a fresh mint liqueur (flavored vodka), and both times it has turned a very unpleasant brown/black color. I'd like to figure out how to do this while keeping the nice bright ...
5
votes
1answer
157 views

Chemistry of maple butter

I've recently tried to make maple butter with the following recipe: Heat maple syrup to about 110 - 115°C Cool to about 20°C (by putting the pot in an ice/water bath) Stir manually for 20-30mins I ...
4
votes
4answers
12k views

PH and sour / acid taste

I had always thought low pH foods had a noticeable sour (acid) taste, and vice-versa. But when reading The Bread Builders by Daniel Wing & Allan Scott, on page 54, it says: The sour taste of ...
4
votes
2answers
1k 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 and ...
4
votes
2answers
4k views

What is the difference between a thickener and an emulsifier?

I ask this because I have used a minuscule amount of Xanthan Gum to slightly thicken a chilli sauce I have made. However upon looking at the ingredients of many popular chilli sauces they all tend to ...