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Molecular Gastronomy

The importance of this study and the tools rocketing us into the future of the culinary world.

Andreas Rounds

on 6 November 2012

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Transcript of Molecular Gastronomy

The tools and techniques that are propelling us into the future of culinary. Molecular Gastronomy What exactly does it mean? Molecular? Gastronomy? MOLECULES are microscopic electrically neutral groups, different from ions by their lack of electrical charge, containing two or more atoms held together by covalent chemical bonds. MOLECULAR is short for molecular science which is the study of molecules which is categorized into two groups, one being physics and the other chemistry. GASTRONOMY is both art and science where the focus is food, culture and the characteristic style of cooking practices and traditions used around the world. Categorized as a food science, molecular gastronomy is the study of the physical and chemical transformations that occur in ingredients while cooking. Molecular gastronomy is not a style
of cooking! It is the study of why ingredients do what they do when cooked. Molecular gastronomy also focuses on how to apply changes in ingredients in technical and artistic ways for the purpose of innovative food service. Today restaurants are frequented often based on ratings and awards alone. Molecular Gastronomy is known by many other names in the culinary circle, but the term molecular gastronomy was coined in 1992 by Nicholas Kurti and Hervé This. Due to the nature of molecular gastronomy there are now many tools normally found in laboratories being used today inside kitchens. This study and application of knowledge can help give the competitive edge needed for chefs and restaurant owners alike. >The most prestigious rating system is the Michelin Guide. The Michelin Guide is a road guide for travelers first published in France 1933 by André Michelin and his brother Édouard Michelin. Covering travel and tourism this guide also awards one to three stars to a small number of restaurants of outstanding quality. >One star indicates very good cuisine. >Two-star represents excellent cuisine >The rare three stars are awarded to restaurants offering exceptional cuisine, worth a journey to alone. Nicholas Kurti is best known for working on the Manhattan project during World War II. His passion was science, but his hobby was cooking and he enthusiastically tuned his scientific knowledge to solving various culinary problems. Hervé This lives and breathes molecular gastronomy and is responsible for the word as we know it today. He graduated attaining his Ph.D from the University Paris VI under the title Molecular and Physical Gastronomy in Physical Chemistry of Materials. He is famous for making difficult scientific concepts easy to understand by those with little knowledge of chemistry or physics. One such problem was reversing a Baked Alaska by making the inside hot while keeping the outside cool using a newly invented device at the time called the microwave oven. This adaptation of the Baked Alaska was called the Frozen Florida. Some of his culinary discoveries include the perfect temperature for poaching eggs. Adding cold water to egg whites in order to increase the foam when beating them. The Centrifuge is a machine which puts an object in rotation around a fixed axis, applying a force perpendicular to the axis. It is used to isolate and separate suspensions whereas the heavier objects move to the bottom and the lighter remains on the top. A kitchen centrifuge must be capable of 20,000 rotations per minute producing 48,000 gravitational forces to get the essence, or clarification, out of various low pH ingredients. Centrifuges are important for the study of molecular gastronomy because they can clarify juices and demulsify emulsions in order to take the fat out of them. One way of using demulsification with a centrifuge is creating butters out of vegetable purees. Thermal Immersion Circulators are electronically powered devices that circulate and heat warm fluid while keeping the fluid at a stable temperature. In the kitchen these devices are used for sous-vide which is French for under vacuum. It is used to process, environmental, microbiological and hazardous waste with other laboratory uses. This is a method of cooking food in a water bath in airtight plastic bags for long periods of time. The temperature of the water is kept at 131 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit with the low end being for meats and the high end for vegetables. First used in the kitchen by Georges Pralus in 1974 he discovered that foie gras cooked in this manner kept its original appearance and did not lose excess amounts of fat. Liquid nitrogen is the liquid form of nitrogen which is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and mostly inert diatomic gas. Liquid nitrogen freezes at −346 degrees Fahrenheit and because it boils on contact with a warmer object the nitrogen gas envelops the object insulating it from the surrounding liquid. This effect is most commonly seen in the kitchen when a chef tests their hot skillet with water. If the water skitters across the metal forming spheres and taking a while to completely evaporate then the skillet temperature is above the boiling point of water. Nitrogen is the fourth most abundant element after oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen and makes up 3 percent of the average human body weight. When nitrogen gas reaches extremely low temperatures it becomes a liquid and when this liquid reaches −321 degrees Fahrenheit it boils. This effect, known as the Leidenfrost effect is named after Johann Gottlob Leidenfrost, who discussed it in A Tract About Some Qualities of Common Water in 1756. Liquid nitrogen has many scientific uses, but for the culinary world it is primarily used in creating ultra-smooth ice creams due to the rapidity of chilling causing smaller ice crystal formations. The smaller the ice crystal the smoother the texture. It is also used to create smoky effects allowing for enhanced scents while dining. Liquid nitrogen has been used for culinary purposes as far back as the late 1800’s. Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms covalently bonded to a single carbon atom and is a gas at natural temperatures and pressures. When carbon dioxide is pressurized and refrigerated it becomes a liquid. Carbon dioxide has many scientific and industrial uses and has been a part of the culinary world for a long time. It is colorless and odorless in low concentration, but with higher concentrations it has a sour zesty odor and is slightly acidic. When the liquid form of the carbon dioxide has the pressure removed the carbon dioxide vaporizes lowering the temperature of the remaining liquid. What is left is a solid in a snow-like consistency. This snow is then compressed into blocks creating dry ice which has a temperature of −109.3 degrees Fahrenheit at normal pressures. Carbon dioxide is responsible for bread rising in the oven and for making drinks bubbly and fizzy. Labeled as a food additive it is even used to make the candy called Pop Rocks which is pressurized with carbon dioxide gas. When dissolved this hard candy releases the gas bubbles with a recognizable pop sound. Enzymes are large biological molecules responsible for the thousands of chemical interconversions that sustain life. Enzymes are responsible for digestion and the transport of substances into and between different cells. Most enzymes are proteins. The enzyme Amylases can be found in fungi, plants and human saliva and is used to process and break down food. Amylases has many uses! Using this enzyme we can gain sugars from starch like in making high-fructose corn syrup. In baking, amylases found in yeast will catalyze breakdown of starch in the flour to sugar causing fermentation. This fermentation of sugar produces the carbon dioxide that raises the dough. There are many different types of enzymes used for the production of dairy, fruit juice, brewing, meat tenderizers and even baby food. In the kitchen enzymes can be used to break down all types of substances. One such example would be using Peelzym, and enzyme that can dissolve the white part of citrus. This would allow one to create supremes without ever cutting the fruit. It would also allow the beautiful flavedo, the colored part of the peel, to remain fully intact Ultrasound is a cyclic sound pressure wave with a frequency greater than the upper limit of the human hearing range. Ultrasonication generates alternating low-pressure and high-pressure waves in liquids, leading to the formation and violent collapse of small vacuum bubbles. Ultrasound can be used for imaging, detection, measurement, and cleaning. At higher power levels ultrasonics are useful for changing the chemical properties of substances which in the culinary field is known as cooking. This phenomenon is termed cavitation and these burst of bubbles can reach temperatures in excess of 9000 degrees Fahrenheit and pressures in excess of 500 atmospheres are generated at the implosion and explosion sites of cavitation bubbles. Ultrasonics is ideal because these microscopic bubbles which form and implode enter every orifice of an ingredient penetrating all the way through introducing the liquid flavor deep into the ingredient. One such use for ultrasound was done by a group of research chefs in a culinary lab in Belle¬vue, Washington. This group took a combination of molecular gastronomy techniques and made ultrasonic french fries. They vacuum-sealed potato batons with 2 percent salt brine solution in bags to keep them intact during boiling. They then bombarded with intense sound waves causing the surface of each fry to crack and blister with myriad tiny bubbles and fissures. Next they vacuum-dried the pretreated potato sticks to adjust the water content of the exterior and then briefly blanched them in oil at 340 degrees Fahrenheit to tighten their network of interlaced starch molecules. After cooling completely a quick plunge into hot oil at 375 degrees Fahrenheit causes each minuscule bubble on the surface of the fries formed through sonification to expand in volume by a factor of more than 1,000% and forced the bubbles to puff up. In just a few minutes of deep frying, the french fries took on an almost furry appearance. A hugely satisfying crunch through the exterior yields to a center of incredibly smooth mashed-potato like consistency. Using ingestible inks printers can now directly print onto the food we eat. One of the newest examples of printing is Additive manufacturing or 3D printing. Inkjet printers are electrical devices capable of printing digital images by propelling droplets of ink onto paper. The concept of inkjet printing originated in the 19th century, but the technology was only first extensively developed in the early 1950s. This can help immensely in tracking food made by factories and small businesses. Another use by printing directly onto food is making it more attractive to eat. Printing onto a cake, candy or chocolate a picture of a favorite cartoon character may find high levels of appeal in target audiences. This is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital model. 3D printing is achieved using additive processes, where an object is created by laying down successive layers of material. Early examples of 3D printing occurred in the 1980s but the term "3D printing" was coined at MIT in 1995 when then graduate students Jim Bredt and Tim Anderson modified an inkjet printer to extrude a binding solution onto a bed of powder, rather than ink onto paper. 3D printing is going to change the culinary world in ways only speculated now. Because we could control the shape and density of an ingredient we may be able to finally fry it when that door was previously locked to us. Our plates would increase dramatically because we could control taste, texture, geometries and colors in ways unimaginable to us right now. The future is so very ripe thanks to the many discoveries we are finding in our kitchens today. Nicholas Kurti once said, “I think it is a sad reflection on our civilization that while we can and do measure the temperature in the atmosphere of Venus we do not know what goes on inside our soufflés”. Thanks to him and many others we now have a dedicated science focused on discovering the mysteries which occur in our kitchens.
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