Cooking is a science, baking even more so. Chemical reactions timed with the proper amount of heat or cold can turn something as simple as flour, water, and yeast into mouthwatering bread that engages all the senses. While the best way to learn or become better at cooking is experience, a tip or two from experts as well as understanding the science behind them is always helpful. So go, be brave, cook that thing you never thought you could, and if you mess it up, take notes on what went wrong and go at it again. To help you out, here are 25 Cool Science Hacks To Make Your Cooking Easier.
Cook Your Shellfish Alive
As soon as lobster and other shellfish such as crabs are dead, the bacteria naturally present in their flesh can rapidly multiply, and after this point, these bacteria aren’t always killed by cooking. Lobsters don’t possess pain receptors in the same way mammals or other animals do, so the general consensus is that they don’t feel pain, though some activists argue otherwise. To prevent food poisoning, cook shellfish alive or immediately after killing them.
Add Acid To Cheese Sauces And Soups
The acid – such as lemon juice or white wine – binds the calcium in the cheese together, instead of allowing it to bind with proteins and keeps it nice and smooth instead of clumpy. It also keeps the fat from separating out, saving you from that weird cheese-oil situation.
Create Steam In Your Oven For Crusty Bread
Place a pan in the bottom of your oven while it’s preheating, and when you place your bread inside the oven, add 1/2 c of water to create steam. The steam interacts with the starch on the surface of the bread and helps it harden. This happens anyway during baking; the steam just facilitates the process.
Fry Your Spices
Fry your whole spices in an oil with a high smoking point (like avocado) to infuse your oil and amp up the flavor of your spices. In two minutes or less, when you can smell the spices opening up, go ahead and add whatever you were going cook in the oil anyway: mirepoix, veggies, meat, it will work for any of these. The heat roasts the spices and causes new depths of flavor to be achieved.
The Maillard Reaction (or why we sear our food)
The Maillard Reaction is something that happens between amino acids and sugar, usually when heat is applied. This is why we sear meat (not to keep it moist; that’s not how it works). During this process, hundreds of new flavors are created, which in turn create other flavor compounds, and on it goes. Each food has it’s own unique set of flavor compounds created during the Maillard reaction.