Tips & Tricks of Food Science

Food Science is this awesome little mix of biology, chemistry and physics. I enjoy learning the reasons why the things we make react the way they do. Putting a name to what you’re seeing is so satisfying. Here’s some of my favorite examples:

*Putting sugar on berries pulls the water out of the fruit, because sugar is hydrophilic. This means it loves water so much it’ll take some from the berries!

*Denaturing proteins can change a food entirely. I always think of eggs, because once you’ve cooked them (denatured their proteins) you can never return them to their natural state. Denaturing means you’re changing the structure of the protein at a molecular level. Adding rennet to milk to make cheese is another way of denaturing proteins.

*Fats are confusing. Some saturated fats are bad, some are good, but we do know that trans fats are bad for us. So what IS a trans fat? It comes down to the actual molecule and the direction that the hydrogen atoms are facing. When the two hydrogen atoms are on the same side of the double bond it’s called a cis, and when they’re on the opposite sides it’s called a trans. This affects the shapes of the molecules, and thus affects the stability of the fat. Trans fatty acids can last forever, which is why they were used in so many snack foods (like Twinkies) before we realized that our bodies do not like them.

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