Questions tagged [food-science]

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

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
76
votes
7answers
260k 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?
167
votes
11answers
141k views

Why add salt to the water when cooking pasta?

What is the effect of adding salt to the water when cooking pasta?
56
votes
2answers
132k views

Why can applesauce be used in place of oil?

In many recipes, mostly desserts, it is suggested that you can substitute oil with applesauce to reduce the fat content. But why applesauce? Is there something special about applesauce or are there ...
45
votes
7answers
9k views

Why do some foods taste better the next day?

Many people think that certain foods, like lasagna, many stews and hearty soups, tomato sauce and so forth taste better the next day. My question is, is that really true, and if so, why? The ...
41
votes
6answers
109k 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?
35
votes
3answers
12k views

Resources that explain the science of cooking?

I have been cooking for a while now, but its mostly what I picked up watching others cook. Now, I am an engineer by profession, and it seems there ought to be a reason for cooking food the way it is ...
55
votes
18answers
197k 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 ...
23
votes
5answers
10k views

Flavour combinations - structural analysis

Without neccesarily going into molecular cooking (although we could): does any literature / website / theory provide information on flavor / flavour combinations that go well together? (ignoring ...
18
votes
1answer
21k views

Room temperature “rest” for fresh mayo?

On the mayonnaise episode of Good Eats, Alton Brown recommends letting homemade mayo sit at room temperature for 4-8 hours before refrigerating. The idea is to let the acid in the mayo kill any ...
33
votes
6answers
39k views

Is “until juices run clear” a valid test for poultry doneness? Why or why not?

I've come across this particular recommendation many times in various recipes and cookbooks and probably even given it out myself once or twice. Poultry is sufficiently cooked when the juices run ...
25
votes
4answers
3k views

How does the way that I cut my garlic affect the taste of my food?

I've seen recipes that called for coarsely chopped garlic and recipes that called for finely chopped or minced garlic. What affect does that cut have on the final taste of my dish? What about crushed ...
10
votes
2answers
2k views

How does salmonella get into eggs?

Since a few hundred million eggs have been recalled, I'm wondering how salmonella gets into eggs in the first place. Is it getting on the shells from the environment (or the hen)? Is it inside the egg?...
6
votes
2answers
11k 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

Controlling variables in homemade yogurt

Making yogurt at home is a fairly straight-forward process. Heat milk to 180F (82C), cool that milk to at least 110F (43C), add live cultures, usually in the form of yogurt with said cultures, ...
7
votes
2answers
6k 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
7k 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 ...
30
votes
2answers
151k 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 question: ...
28
votes
11answers
178k 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
63k views

What are the functions of vinegar in cooking?

I have used vinegar for flavor as a substitute for salt and noticed that it is used in salads, not sure why perhaps as preserver/flavour. But I have never realized that it could be used in much more ...
8
votes
6answers
11k views

Do eggshells let flavours pass through during boiling?

If i had 2 eggs. 1 i boil in plain water. The other i boil in say a curry sauce. After boiling and peeling, would they taste different to one another? Do the shells let any flavour through?
21
votes
9answers
12k 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 ...
12
votes
6answers
190k views

Beef: Red on the outside, brown on the inside

Take bright-red ground beef and put it in a freezer for a few days. After taking it out and letting it thaw, it looks fairly red on the outside, but brown on the inside. Why is that? From the ...
24
votes
5answers
27k views

Does microwaving destroy nutrients in food?

After answering this article, I did some research on microwaving killing vitamins and nutrients in food. I very quickly learned that this is a touchy subject, even among nutritionists, and nobody (at ...
16
votes
3answers
9k views

What is the science behind Magic Cake?

Magic Cake has a seemingly simple batter, that is mixed and baked as a single entity. (See link for the full recipe and method). When it is baked, it separates into three distinct layers: A dense ...
40
votes
6answers
5k views

What does “natural” actually mean?

More and more I see "natural" or "all natural" labels on the slightly-cheaper alternatives next to "organic" products, and I find it somewhat confusing. I know that (for example) tofu does not occur ...
27
votes
3answers
92k views

How does a splash of vinegar help when poaching eggs?

What does splashing in a shot of white vinegar to the simmering water do when poaching an egg? Is it for taste or is it supposed to react in some way with the albumen?
18
votes
2answers
10k 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
7k views

Why blanche vegetables before freezing?

I have a bumper crop of french beans, runners, and (earlier in the summer) peas. I know that we're supposed to blanche vegetables prior to freezing and my general purpose cookbooks tell me how long to ...
21
votes
4answers
32k 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", ...
15
votes
5answers
24k views

What are the optimal conditions in making wild yeast starter?

I recently learned that I don't need to buy packets of yeast to make bread. I can create a sour dough starter by utilizing the wild yeast floating around in the air. Take a look at this article for ...
14
votes
2answers
71k views

Is it scientifically verified that bananas will ripen faster when kept in a bowl with other fruit?

I've heard you shouldn't keep bananas in a bowl with other fruit. But they all look so happy together. What I'd like to see is hard science here. Or at least documented and repeatable observation. ...
13
votes
4answers
26k views

Is MSG necessary or what to replace it with?

I have always heard that you should stay away MSG. For example when buying bouillon crystals we should always make sure that it doesn't contain MSG. Yet I came across this recipe for spinach soup that ...
10
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the food chemistry of aquafaba?

Aquafaba is the water that chickpeas are cooked in. It can be made from dried chickpeas or obtained by draining a can of cooked chickpeas. Aquafaba is widely recommended as a substitute for eggs in ...
7
votes
4answers
33k views

Why do my egg whites separate after whipping?

Every time I try to whip egg whites, I seem to end up with the same problem. After a good bit of strenuous beating with the whisk, the egg whites finally reach the "firm peak" stage. I then go grab ...
6
votes
3answers
7k 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. ...
16
votes
2answers
9k views

Why do bananas turn black in the refrigerator?

I've noticed that a banana in the refrigerator will turn pitch black in just a few hours. Why is this?
13
votes
5answers
39k 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
7k views

“Cooking” with acid (ceviche)

At a tappas bar, I had shrimp ceviche. In this dish, the shrimp is "cooked" not by high temperature but by the citric acid of its marinade. This would be really fun to make at home. For such dishes, ...
10
votes
4answers
19k views

Why would cooked spinach contain more iron than raw?

I've been researching the nutrient content of various foods and I've found that cooked spinach appears to have more iron than raw spinach (3.57 mg / 100g vs 2.71 mg /100g). Intuitively, I would have ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

All else held equal, does a pot of tea have more total caffeine than a mug?

Let's say you have one tea bag and can either brew it in a mug of boiling water, or a larger tea kettle of boiling water. The temperature, steeping time, type of tea bag, etc. are held constant. ...
4
votes
1answer
2k views

Does adding oil to pasta water reduce the tendency to boil over?

I know that adding oil to pasta water doesn't keep the noodles from sticking--much better to do that after cooking. I also know that there's no need to cook pasta at a rolling boil. My question is ...
0
votes
3answers
808 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 ...
37
votes
5answers
28k views

Should pasta be started in cold or boiling water?

There are two main methods, either putting the strands into water already at boiling point, or putting them in cold water and then putting on the heat. Which method is the best to cook pasta? Does ...
27
votes
8answers
291k 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, ...
18
votes
4answers
16k views

Why is a copper bowl recommended for whipping cream and egg whites?

They say you can get the whipped cream or egg whites "higher" or "stiffer" if you use a copper bowl. Why is that?
17
votes
2answers
33k views

What does beating eggs actually do (chemically speaking)?

When I look at a lot of recipes, any eggs usually have to be beaten before they're added. If it's all going to be mixed anyway (and well, in dough for example) is it really necessary?
12
votes
5answers
8k views

Why do things smell good while cooking but have little flavour when finished

While cooking, particularly things that cook slowly on the hob, it smells really good while cooking but when finished it never seems to have as much flavour as I hoped. Am I doing something wrong or ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the rule of thumb for mixing doughs?

Without delving too deeply into specialty doughs, but addressing more than just cakes and bread, what concerns can I evaluate when calculating the technique for approaching a dough? For instance, ...
31
votes
4answers
35k views

How can I tell if this is baking soda or powder?

Sure it'd be easier and cheap to just buy new soda and powder but I'm curious. I had a jar of either baking soda or powder. The marker with which I'd labeled it rubbed off during a house move and I ...
15
votes
2answers
25k 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 "...