How do Bacteria Survive in Boiling Water and Does making Soup kill all the Bacteria in the Stock?

how do bacteria survive in boiling water and does making soup kill all the bacteria in the stock

Not all bacteria are killed at 212°F (100°C ). Some of them can survive by protecting themselves within virtually invulnerable coatings. They’re then called spores. Most species of bacteria reproduce by binary fission, each organism splitting into two whole new organisms. That’s why they can grow at exponential rates. Once they get started, bacteria can … Read more

Why is it Better to make Stock with Cold Water first?

why is it better to make stock with cold water first

Just see how flavorful a stock you’d get by soaking the ingredients for hours in cold water, without ever simmering them. Or try making a cup of tea with cold water, in a respectable amount of time, that is. On second thought, don’t. You’ve heard of “natural,” “environmentally friendly” sun tea? It’s made by placing … Read more

Why does Food turn Brown when Cooked and Where does the Color come from?

why does food turn brown when cooked and where does the color come from

When we brown our steaks in a skillet or on the grill, why aren’t we “greening” or “redding” them? First, let’s remember that the color brown is simply an intense yellow. Thus, we’re actually “intensely yellowing” our foods, that is, using heat to create high concentrations of yellow chemical compounds. Okay, now why yellow? A … Read more

What is the Difference between Maillard Browning and Caramelization (Sugar Browning)?

what is the difference between maillard browning and caramelization sugar browning

Much confusion exists between Maillard browning and sugar browning or caramelization. Both a sugar molecule’s carbonyl group and a protein molecule’s amino group must be present if Maillard browning, also known as sugar-amine browning, is to take place. Heat accelerates the Maillard browning reactions, but they can take place at temperatures as low as 122°F … Read more

How do Nitrites Turn Cured Meat like Ham, Bologna, Sausages, Hot Dogs, and Bacon Pink?

how do nitrites turn cured meat like ham bologna sausages hot dogs and bacon pink

Nitrites accomplish their meat-curing magic by first being themselves transformed into (reduced to) nitric oxide (NO), a process that takes place only slowly by the action of natural antioxidants (also known as reducing agents) in the meat. The nitric oxide then bonds to myoglobin, the main pigment in red meat, to form nitric oxide myoglobin, … Read more

Why are Cured Meats like Ham, Bacon, and Hot Dogs Pink, and Why is Nitrite Unhealthy?

why are cured meats like ham bacon and hot dogs pink and why is nitrite unhealthy

Curing meat means treating it to keep it from spoiling, thereby preserving it for future use. Interesting that the “cure” prevents, rather than treats, the problem. Ancient methods of curing meat include smoking, drying, and salting. When refrigeration and mechanical packaging came along, these flavor-intensive methods became unnecessary and experimentation with chemical curing began. Meats … Read more

What is the Difference between Souse and Scrapple and Where do they Come from?

what is the difference between souse and scrapple and where do they come from scaled

Just because souse and scrapple have funny names and come in refrigerated rectangular blocks doesn’t mean they’re related, except for their porcine parentage. Scrapple, often called Philadelphia Scrapple, is a Pennsylvania Dutch concoction of cooked pork scraps and trimmings (no gruntz) called puddin’, mixed with cornmeal mush, a.k.a. polenta, and spices. Refrigerated, it forms a … Read more

Why is Ground Beef Red on the Outside but Brown on the Inside and What does it mean?

why is ground beef red on the outside but brown on the inside and what does it mean

The brown-meat syndrome has been a concern of consumers ever since the neighborhood butcher, who ground the meat before our very eyes, went the way of his sawdust-covered floors. In today’s supermarkets, the meat is ground somewhere “in the back,” or even at another location, and then packed into plastic trays and covered with plastic … Read more

What is Mechanically Separated Meat and How does it help Spread Mad Cow Disease?

what is mechanically separated meat and how does it help spread mad cow disease scaled

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the USDA won’t let anyone sell mechanically separated meat. It’s a reaction to “mad cow” disease. Mechanically separated meat is meat that has been separated from the bone by a machine, rather than by knife-brandishing humans. The first time I saw the words mechanically separated beef on … Read more

What is the Difference between Pink Shrimp and Gray Shrimp?

what is the difference between pink shrimp and gray shrimp

They’re just different species. Some shrimp are pinker and some are grayer, even when they’re still gamboling about on the ocean floor. But all of their shells turn bright pink when cooked. That color is in the shells all along, but it is masked by darker colors that break down when heated. At least in … Read more

How did Razor Clams get their name and Why do Clams have a Foot?

how did razor clams get their name and why do clams have a foot

Razor clams are quite good to eat, breaded and fried, or made into fritters. They’re harder to find here in the States than in many European countries. They didn’t get their name because their shells are sharp (which they are), but because the shells are shaped like an old-fashioned, curved-handled straight razor: two long, curved … Read more

What is the Difference between Wild Mussels and Farm Raised Mussels?

what is the difference between wild mussels and farm raised mussels scaled

“Wild” mussels have grit in them, which is probably sand, and the “strings” are remnants of their beards, which are routinely removed from the “domesticated” (tame?) ones before they reach the market. Mussels don’t burrow in the sand as clams do, cement their shells to each other as oysters do, or swim freely as scallops … Read more

How is Ceviche made and How does the Lime Juice in Ceviche Cook the Fish?

how is ceviche made and how does the lime juice in ceviche cook the fish

Virtually every mention of ceviche (seh-VEE-che; I’ll use the Spanish spelling) by a food writer is accompanied by a gratuitous statement to the effect that lime juice does to protein what heat does to protein, and therefore the fish is essentially “cooked” by the lime juice. Well, does “cooked” mean cooked, or doesn’t it? And … Read more

What is Bottarga and Where does Bottarga come from?

what is bottarga and where does bottarga come from

Bottarga is dried, salted roe from either the Mediterranean tuna (tonno in Italian) or the gray mullet (mugine). Bottarga di tonno (also known as uovo di tonno, or tuna eggs) and bottarga di mugine are local specialties of Sicily and Sardinia. Italy’s two large Mediterranean islands, and are valued as delicacies in the rest of … Read more

Why is Salmon Pink and Where does the Pink Color in Salmon meat come from?

why is salmon pink and where does the pink color in salmon meat come from

You’re not going to drag me into the battle among salmon farmers, wild-salmon fishermen, and environmentalists. However, to muddle a few metaphors, I will walk a tightrope through the minefield and drop what pearls I can. From decades-long experience, we consumers have expected our salmon to be a nice, orange-pink color. The muscle tissue of … Read more

What is Honey made of and Why is Honey Healthier than Sugar?

what is honey made of and why is honey healthier than sugar

Most of us think of white sugar from sugar cane and sugar beets as somehow less natural than honey. Perhaps because they are not produced by hairy insects? But chemically, there is quite a difference. Sugar cane and sugar beets are loaded with sucrose, whereas honey’s sugars are primarily fructose (39 percent), glucose, (31 percent), … Read more

Why do Processed Foods contain so much Sugar?

why do processed foods contain so much sugar scaled

The fact that everybody likes sugar certainly has a lot to do with its presence in so many processed foods. Some breakfast cereals, for example, will surprise you with their content of sugar, if you figure it out. To check your cereals (or other manufactured foods) for sugar content, look at the Nurtrition Facts table … Read more

Where does Calcium Carbonate come from and How is Lime made?

where does calcium carbonate come from and how is lime made

Limestone, seashells, coral, chalk, marble, eggshells, pearls, stalactites, and stalagmites all consist mainly of a remarkably versatile and plentiful chemical compound called calcium carbonate (CaCO3 ). It constitutes about 7 percent of our planet’s crust, the 20-mile-or-so-thick top layer. When heated to 1520 to 1650°F (825 to 900°C), calcium carbonate decomposes into carbon dioxide gas (CO2) … Read more

How are Mexican Tortillas Made and What does Masa Harina mean in Spanish?

how are mexican tortillas made and what does masa harina mean in spanish

Flour tortillas should be called wheat flour tortillas, because there are many other kinds of flour made from a wide variety of grains, including barley, rye, and rice. But you’ll rarely find flour tortillas south of the border. In Mexico tortillas are made from corn. Flour tortillas are a Tex-Mex invention. The word flour evolved … Read more

Where does Cornmeal come from and How many different types of Corn Flour are there?

where does cornmeal come from and how many different types of corn flour are there

Cornmeal, Cornstarch, Corn Flour, they’re all made from that incredibly versatile and internationally esteemed New World grain called corn in the United States and maize, from the Caribbean Taino Indian word rnahiz, almost everywhere else. A kernel of corn is a seed with essentially three parts. The tough, outer hull (the pericarp) is made mostly … Read more

Why does Dietary Fiber Contain Calories and Carbohydrates if it is Indigestible?

why does dietary fiber contain calories and carbohydrates if it is indigestible scaled

Dietary fiber is indeed completely or almost completely indigestible. That’s how it is defined: those parts of our foods that provide us with no vitamins, minerals, or even calories. Chemically, the fiber compounds in plants are complex carbohydrates. They are therefore included in the total amounts of carbohydrates listed on the labels. Sometimes the chart … Read more

How much Fiber do Smoothies have and Where does Dietary Fiber come from?

how much fiber do smoothies have and where does dietary fiber come from

No matter how thoroughly pureed fruit is, the fiber is still effective. In the dietary context, the word fiber is misleading because it conjures up images of eating coconut husks and mattress stuffing. But dietary fiber doesn’t refer to a physical texture. It’s a catchall term for the components of vegetable foods that humans don’t … Read more

Why are there different types of Pasta and How do you Match the Sauce to the Pasta Shape?

why are there different types of pasta and how do you match the sauce to the pasta shape

For one thing, the almost limitless variety of pasta shapes provides both fun for the eye and differing sensations in the mouth. But there are also real differences in their compatibility with different sauces. It’s not a matter of the pasta absorbing sauce through its surface; pasta isn’t that absorbent and sauces aren’t that liquid. … Read more

What is the Difference between Bleached Flour and Unbleached Flour?

what is the difference between bleached flour and unbleached flour scaled

Wheat flour is naturally slightly yellowish because it contains carotenoid pigments, natural yellow and orange compounds found in many fruits, vegetables, and grains. Carrots’ famous orange color, carotene, is the mother of them all. But most people are less color tolerant than you and don’t like their flour to be yellow. The major exception is … Read more

How do you Make Parboiled Rice and What does Converted Rice Mean?

how do you make parboiled rice and what does converted rice mean

Parboiling is boiling a food just enough to cook it partially but not completely. Quixotically, the word comes from the Latin per bullire, meaning to boil thoroughly, but in Middle English per became par and was confused with part or partial. Thus, “thorough boiling” came to mean its opposite, “partial boiling.” When you’re cooking a … Read more

Who invented Chocolate and where does Chocolate come from?

who invented chocolate and where does chocolate come from

Chocolate comes from the cacao tree which has been cultivated since 1100 BC in Mexico, Central and South America. We now know that the Aztecs made chocolate beverages called xocolātl, which means “bitter water” in Nahuatl. Chocolate was used in Maya and Aztec royal and religious rituals, and the oldest known cultivation of cacao was … Read more

Who Invented Cracker Jack and How Did Cracker Jack Get Its Name?

who invented cracker jack and how did cracker jack get its name

Neither the popcorn nor the peanut is the Jack in Cracker Jack. F. W. Rueckheim was a German immigrant who’d made a name for himself in Chicago as a popcorn vendor. His little shop on Federal Street dealt in popcorn, taffy, marshmallows, peanuts, caramels, and other treats. When he decided to mix various popular ingredients … Read more

How Did French Fries Get Their Name and What Are French Fries Called In France?

how did french fries get their name and what are french fries called in france

They have pommes frites (pronounced “pum fritt”) in France, which are basically what Americans call “French fries.” The American term French Fries reportedly came, it is believed, from Thomas Jefferson. He brought a recipe for fried potato sticks back to the colonies and referred to them as “Potatoes, fried in the French manner.” The phrase … Read more

What Would Kill You First, a Lack of Sleep Or a Lack of Food and Why?

what would kill you first a lack of sleep or a lack of food and why

Most people can last for nearly a month without food. However, 10 days without being allowed to sleep would kill most humans. Sleep deprivation adversely affects the brain and cognitive function, and may result in hallucinations and memory lapses or loss. Recent studies have suggested that sleep deprivation may be linked to heart disease and … Read more

How Many Different Animals Come In Circus Animal Cracker Boxes?

how many different animals come in circus animal cracker boxes

First introduced as Bamum’s Animals in 1902 by the National Biscuit Company, also known as Nabisco, animal cracker cookies have always come in a circus-wagon package. A century ago, the package was made of tin and designed to hang on a Christmas tree, and the animals were just cookie-cutter silhouettes instead of a more detailed … Read more

How Did the Donut Get Its Name and Where Did Doughnuts Come From?

how did the donut get its name and where did doughnuts come from

The donut wasn’t always called a nut, and when it was first called a nut, the name actually made sense. First of all, let’s dismiss one spurious but widespread legend reported by otherwise reputable sources: that the name was invented during World War I because the fighting “doughboys” went “nuts” over the doughnuts and coffee … Read more