I’ve long held that the usual approach to cooking/baking (merely following a recipe) isn’t science. Unless you do some kind of systematic investigation of the result of different approaches. Like this:
The Science Behind Baking Your Ideal Chocolate Chip Cookie
“Even though I can describe what I like,” says Nyberg, “I didn’t know the role of each ingredient in the texture and shape of cookies.” So she looked into it — as only a scientist can.
Remember, Dr. Cookie is the scientist, and Dr. Cookie’s Monster is the creation.
Harvard students’ invention puts cake in a can
McCallum wondered if he could borrow the technology from the whipped cream can and create a similar delivery mechanism for cake batter, in which an accelerant releases air bubbles inside the batter, allowing the cake to rise without the need for baking soda and baking powder.
To his surprise, it worked.
Arbitrary serving size, too — if you want one cupcake, you make one cupcake. Microwave in 30 sec. With that ease, though, I’m not sure “portion control” is as much of a feature as they tout.
Lettuce See the Future: Japanese Farmer Builds High-Tech Indoor Veggie Factory
Shimamura turned a former Sony Corporation semiconductor factory into the world’s largest indoor farm illuminated by LEDs. The special LED fixtures were developed by GE and emit light at wavelengths optimal for plant growth.
By controlling temperature, humidity and irrigation, the farm can also cut its water usage to just 1 percent of the amount needed by outdoor fields.
How Atomic Particles Helped Solve A Wine Fraud Mystery
I’ve mentioned wine fraud sleuthing before, and this is another telling of one of those stories. If interested, it’s probably worth reading Jennifer Ouellette’s post and her included link to the New Yorker article, for full coverage of the details.
What if natural products came with a list of ingredients?
Processed foods are notorious for their jaw-droppingly long lists of chemical-laden ingredients, each one sounding worse than the last. But as these detailed infographics show, even the simplest of foods are anything but.
Engineer Designs Mug to Keep Coffee Temperature Just Right
A material (possibly paraffin) that melts/solidifies at the right temperature, so the liquid stays warm for an extended period of time. Reminiscent of Coffee Joulies. Which don’t seem to work as well as advertised, especially in an open ceramic mug. A test with lids in place shows better performance. This mug has a vacuum insulation layer and a lid, but caveat emptor. Though the physics behind the concept is sound.
The concept of a “phase-change” coffee mug to keep beverages warm was patented in the 1960s, but never made it to the marketplace due to manufacturing difficulties. But Maxwell happened to meet an engineer named Dean Verhoeven who had already solved the manufacturing problem. Dean and Maxwell teamed up and Joeveo was born
Their kickstarter closes on Jan 1, with delivery slated for next summer, so not a last-minute gift idea for this year, but perhaps an early shopping idea for next, even if delivery gets delayed a little.
The Scientific Secret of Fluffy Pancakes
This is great, and an example of cooking as science (which I’m on record as saying doesn’t always/usually qualify, such as when you are simply following a recipe). This does qualify, because there are three tests proposed! All from the same starting point, so you are only changing one variable — the mixing time — and then comparing the results. Rigor!
Play with your food: How to Make Sconic Sections
In what follows, we’ll show you how to bake cone-shaped scones, to slice them into plane geometric curves, and to highlight those curves by selective application of toppings. We’ll also discuss some of the methods that didn’t work so well, as we refined our methods for making these.
Macaroni being extruded and cut. Hypnotizing. Much better than Cats.
An awesome lesson of grilling that had not occurred to me before.
The secret to toasty buns is in the physics
Anytime you cook light-colored food with high heat, inattention is a recipe for disaster. But the physics here is pretty simple, and once you understand it you can use several methods to improve your odds of making that perfectly toasted bun, golden half-melted marshmallow or juicy grilled fillet.
At high temperatures — about 400 degrees and up — a substantial part of the heat that reaches the food arrives in the form of infrared light waves rather than via hot air or steam.
A lesson that one also sees in discussions about global warming: white-ish things, like the above-mentioned buns marshmallows or fish, reflect much more radiation than darker things. So as your food item begins to brown (or your Arctic ice melts), it absorbs the heat much faster, and correspondingly cooks faster. A potentially disastrous feedback effect.