background preloader

Food and Drink

Facebook Twitter

Chemistry of Moon Cakes. Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节) is a traditional Chinese festival celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month each year (a full moon night in September).

Chemistry of Moon Cakes

It started as an agricultural tradition (like harvest festival in western cultures) around 1000 BC in the Zhou Dynasty, and was formally acknowledged as a festival during the Northern Song Dynasty (between 960 and 1279 AD). Today, Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated with moon cakes, family reunions and three days off work. Moon cakes are circular to represent the full moon that always occurs on the Mid-Autumn Festival. Watch the video below to learn about the story behind the festival: Moon cakes consist of crust, filling and an egg wash. The crust also contains invert sugar syrup, which is chemically similar to both honey and golden syrup. Peanut oil (a blend of mostly monounsaturated triglycerides) is added to the crust for two reasons. Alkaline water (枧水) is a common ingredient in Guangdong-style cuisine. Like this: Like Loading... The Chemistry of a Hangover. Click to enlarge After yesterday’s new year celebrations, you might well be nursing a sore head this morning after a few drinks too many.

The Chemistry of a Hangover

The Chemistry of Rum. Click to enlarge For the latest in the alcohol chemistry series, we’re looking at a pirate’s favourite spirit: rum.

The Chemistry of Rum

It’s actually hard to describe what constitutes a rum, because there’s not really a fixed definition; different countries have different standards that rums have to meet. Still, despite the differences in types, there’s still a lot of chemistry in common. Rum originates from the process that gives us sugar. Sugar cane has to be processed to produce sugar, and this processing produces a syrupy fluid known as molasses. Pumpkin-Spice-Flavor. [+]Enlarge Like chemistry, pumpkin spice is everywhere.


Credit: Starbucks Coffee (Coffee); Mike Mozart/Flickr (other images) BBQ. Moon cake. Strawberry chemistry. The Chemistry of Plums & Prunes: Constipation & Chewing Gum. Click to enlarge Dried plums, more commonly referred to as prunes, have a reputation for being a good remedy for constipation.

The Chemistry of Plums & Prunes: Constipation & Chewing Gum

This is, in part, due to their high fibre content – but is there actually any proof for their efficacy? And if so, are there additional chemical reasons? This graphic takes a look at the facts, and also finds an unusual connection between prunes and chewing gum. The Chemistry of Cider. Click to enlarge Having looked at the chemistry behind beer previously, it seemed only fair to also take a look at cider for all the cider drinkers out there.

The Chemistry of Cider

On a hot summer’s day, the cool, refreshing taste of cider is hard to beat. But what are the chemicals behind this flavour? Before we look at the chemistry, let’s briefly discuss how cider is made. Obviously, it starts with the apples being picked from the tree. Once the apples have been picked, they’re left to mature for a time before then being scratted, or ground down, into a pulp. After fermentation is complete, the cider will often be left to mature for several months. Carbon dioxide can also be produced by one of the acids present in apples.

The Chemistry of Watermelons: Colour, Aroma, & Explosions. Click to enlarge Watermelons are a popular, refreshing summer fruit.

The Chemistry of Watermelons: Colour, Aroma, & Explosions

Compound Interest - The Chemistry of Mulled Wine. Click to Enlarge There are few things more warming than a mug of mulled wine in the depths of December.

Compound Interest - The Chemistry of Mulled Wine

Exact recipes may vary, but they all include a common core of ingredients, each of which contributes something to the final flavour. This graphic examines some of the key chemicals that each ingredient adds into the mix, with more detail on each provided below. Aspartame, The Artificial Sweetener. Last week, Pepsi announced they will be removing aspartame, the artificial sweetener, from Diet Pepsi (in the US), and replacing it with another artificial sweetener, sucralose.

Aspartame, The Artificial Sweetener

This reignited the discussion on aspartame, probably one of the most maligned substances in fizzy drinks – but what does the science say on its safety? This graphic looks at the evidence behind aspartame’s bad reputation, and whether it makes sense to remove it from drinks. There’s no shortage of material when it comes to aspartame research – the FDA has described it as one of the most studied food additives currently approved. We’re talking a huge number of studies, more than 500, so you’d justifiably think that this is an issue that the research can weigh in on pretty heavily, and with good authority. Even if we cast an overly suspicious eye, and exclude studies funded by soft drinks manufacturers and the like, there are still hundreds of studies that have been carried out on aspartame. Like this: The Chemistry of Gin (And Tonic!) Click to enlarge For the fifth in the ‘Alcohol Chemistry’ series, we turn to gin.

The Chemistry of Gin (And Tonic!)

As with other types of alcohol, there are a huge number of different chemical compounds present, but it’s possible to identify a range of significant chemical contributors to its aroma & flavour. Here, we take a look at those compounds and where they come from. Gin is a spirit that we’ve been making for centuries; although Franciscus Sylvius, a Dutch physician and scientist, is often credited with its discovery in the 17th century, references to gin (or genever as it was also known) exist as far back as the 13th century. Sylvius originally conceived it as an concoction for the treatment of kidney and bladder problems, but its popularity as a recreational drink later soared.

Its popularity in England was spurred by heavy government duties on imported spirits, as well as the fact that gin production was not required to be licensed. The Chemistry of Rhubarb – Poison Leaves & Laxative Effects. Click to enlarge Field-grown rhubarb will shortly be coming into season and appearing in supermarkets in the UK, so it seems like a good time to take a look at the chemistry behind this odd-looking vegetable. The Chemistry of Whisky. Click to enlarge Whisky is one of the world’s most popular spirits, and comes in many different classes and types. The character and flavour of these differing types vary widely; this, of course, comes down to their varying chemical composition.

Here, we take a look at where some of these different compounds come from, and what they contribute. Science of S'Mores. The Maillard Reaction. Click to enlarge There’s one chemical reaction that, whether you have an interest in chemistry or not, we all carry out on a regular, maybe even daily, basis. That reaction? The Maillard Reaction. The Chemistry of Brussels Sprouts: Bitterness & Genetics. There’s one vegetable at the Christmas dinner table that’s always bound to elicit strong and contrary opinions: brussels sprouts. Much like marmite, they seem to conjure up a ‘love it or hate it’ sentiment; however, if you fall into the latter camp, there may actually be a chemical and genetic reason why you can’t stand the taste.

Sulforaphane is the featured molecule today in the Chemistry Advent Calendar, but here we take a closer look at the some of the other chemicals found in brussels sprouts. Before discussing brussels sprouts specifically, we actually need to look at a chemical that isn’t even found in them, phenylthiocarbamide (PTC). This synthetic compound is an oddity in that it tastes bitter – but only to around 70% of people.

To the other 30%, it’s completely tasteless. Fox went on to carry a series of tasting tests with his friends and family, further confirming that it tasted bitter to some, but not all. The Chemistry of Ginger – Flavour, Pungency & Medicinal Potential. Ginger is a spice that can be commonly found in supermarkets and in the kitchen, either as the fresh root, or in dried, powdered form. It adds a strong, pungent flavour to dishes as a consequence of a number of chemical compounds it contains; additionally, these compounds are altered when the ginger is cooked or dried, producing alterations to its flavour.

Some of these compounds have also been investigated for potential health benefits, including potential anti-tumour activity. As with all spices, fresh ginger root contains a large range of chemical compounds. Science of Cooking: Crusty Science: Bread. Find out how yeast performs its biochemical transformation of a bit of flour and water into crusty, delicious bread. Chocolate: Facts, History, and Factory Tour. Science of Cooking: Sparkling Science: Champagne. Science of Bread: Bread Science 101. From Chinese baozi to Armenian lavash, bread comes in thousands of forms. What do they have in common? On the most basic level, they all involve cooking a mixture of milled grains and water.

Science of Cooking: Meat. Science of Coffee. The Chemistry of Tequila. Who says your diet is chemical free? · Blog. Posted by Lauren Tedaldi on 19 May 2014 Today we’re launching a new edition of ‘Making Sense of Chemical Stories', to stop people being misled by chemical myths. With chemicals ever-present in the media, the guide has been revised to help people make sense of chemical stories. The Chemistry of Pizza - Reactions. Why Does Bacon Smell So Good? - Reactions. Ice Cream Chemistry - Reactions. How sugar affects the brain - Nicole Avena. The science of spiciness - Rose Eveleth. Chemicals_Infographic_Apples_LoveHearts_web.png (PNG Image, 711 × 3221 pixels) - Scaled (31%) SAS_-_Dose_Makes_The_Poison_FINAL_1.png (PNG Image, 3508 × 2480 pixels) - Scaled (29%) The chemistry of cookies - Stephanie Warren. Why is ketchup so hard to pour? - George Zaidan. National Chemistry Week: The Chemistry of Candy.

It’s currently National Chemistry Week in the US (apparently, we only get National Chemistry Week once every two years here in the UK), and the theme for this year is ‘The Sweet Side of Chemistry’. This seemed like as good an opportunity as any to look at some confectionary chemistry! In this graphic, we look at the amazing versatility of sucrose, and how (combined with other ingredients) it can make candies as hard as lollipops, or as soft as fudge. Whilst there are a huge variety of candies available, we can actually divide them into just two main categories: crystalline and non-crystalline (or amorphous). What Makes Jam Set? – The Chemistry of Jam-Making. Click to enlarge. Why Doesn’t Honey Spoil? – The Chemistry of Honey. Click to enlarge. To Refrigerate, Or Not To Refrigerate? – The Chemistry of Tomatoes.

You may have previously come across the advice that tomatoes shouldn’t be refrigerated, but should be stored at room temperature, in order to maximise their flavour. Monosodium Glutamate – An Undeserved Reputation? Click to enlarge. Raspberries, Weight Loss, & The Galaxy – The Chemistry of Raspberries. Lethal Doses of Water, Caffeine and Alcohol. Click to Enlarge Today’s graphic is a whimsical look at lethal doses of chemicals we consume on a regular basis. Toxicity & Aphrodisia – The Chemistry of Chocolate. Why is Coffee Bitter? – The Chemistry of Coffee. Why Does Asparagus Make Urine Smell? – The Chemistry of Asparagus. Why Do Avocados Turn Brown? – The Chemistry of Avocados. What Gives Beer its Bitterness & Flavour? The Key Chemicals in Red Wine – Colour, Flavour, and Potential Health Benefits. What Compounds Cause Garlic Breath? – The Chemistry of Garlic. Why Chilli Peppers are Spicy: The Chemistry of a Chilli. The Chemistry of an Onion.

The Polymorphs of Chocolate. Guarding Against Toothache & Premature Ejaculation – The Chemistry of Cloves. The Hallucinogen in Your Kitchen – The Chemistry of Nutmeg. Chemical Compounds in Herbs & Spices. Why Can Beetroot Turn Urine Red? – The Chemistry of Beetroot. Sourness & Scurvy – The Chemistry of a Lemon. Polyphenols & Antioxidants – The Chemistry of Tea. Why Can Coriander Taste Soapy? – The Chemistry of Coriander. Why Does Bacon Smell So Good? – The Aroma of Bacon. Artificial vs Natural Peach. Artificial vs Natural Watermelon & Sweetcorn. Ingredients of an All-Natural Banana. Ingredients of All-Natural Blueberries. Ingredients of An All-Natural Peach.