Posts Tagged ‘kitchen chemistry’

TGIF: Food related “Periodic videos”

Friday, August 20th, 2010

I believe most chemists are familiar with the “periodic videos” from the University of Nottingham, covering all the known chemical elements. The series features professor Martyn Poliakoff who’s grey hair is really worthy of a professor! They have now covered the complete periodic table of elements, and have even started to update some of their previously posted videos. There are also thematic videos as well as videos covering specific molecules appearing now. As a chemist I think the videos are great fun to watch since they show a number of exotic experiments I’ve never seen before combined with plenty of nice-to-know facts. I certainly recommend all these videos (for an overview, check out their website), but the reason I chose to blog about this is that I was delighted to find a number of more or less food related videos! These are definitely not going to make you a better cook. But some of them are quite amusing to watch, and you may even learn some chemistry as you go. But most of the food related videos are really just for fun :)

Cheeseburger in hydrochloric acid


Kitchen chemistry is changing the world

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008


A recent cover feature of Time magazine was “10 Ideas That Are Changing The World”. According to journalist Joel Stein ” ideas are the secret power that this planet runs on”, and guess what? Idea #5 is Kitchen Chemistry. Some are fed up with foams (why does everyone think molecular gastronomy is only about foams anyway?), but my guess is that scientific approaches in the kitchen will become more and more common in the years to come and I certainly welcome this focus on kitchen chemistry.

This paradigm shift won’t be such a big deal in practice. Your oven is pretty much an advanced science gadget already, you use meat thermometers, and that measuring cup looks an awful lot like a beaker. You’re just going to have to step it up a little: replace that liquid-measuring cup with a more accurate dry-weight scale; get a vacuum sealer like that FoodSaver gadget and a Crock-Pot that stays at a precise temperature so you can sous vide meat (which involves cooking it in a bag for a long time in a low-temperature water bath); learn how to use simple chemicals like agar-agar and xanthan gum (just better versions of gelatin and cornstarch, really); review a little high school chemistry. No big deal.