MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- More than 100 employees at the FedEx hub in Memphis were treated at the scene after a forklift punctured a barrel of concentrated chili pepper extract. Memphis fire officials say the five-gallon container was damaged outside the building early Thursday morning and 117 employees were being evaluated and decontaminated. Authorities identified the substance as liquid capsaicin, a chili pepper component that's also an active ingredient in pepper spray. Company spokesman Chris Stanley says this batch was destined for hot sauce. [More]
The chemicals that cause the burning sensation in pepper come from a family of compounds called the capsaicinoids. Capsaicin is soluble in fats and oils but not in water. Therefore milk, ice cream and peanut butter can relieve the pain that occurs after eating hot peppers. More on the chemistry of capsaicin here and here.
The typical supermarket tomato: ripe red, firm to the touch, free of blemishes—and of flavor. Since at least the 1970s, U.S. consumers have lamented the beautiful but bland fruits that farmers breed not for taste, but rather for high yield and durability during shipping. Recently, organic farmers and foodies have championed the superior flavors of heirloom tomatoes—older varieties that come in an assortment of shapes, sizes and colors. In a new study, researchers took a close look at the chemical composition of both standard tomatoes and hundreds of different heirloom varieties, which they also fed to 170 volunteers in a taste test. Their new findings confirm what scientists have learned in recent years: a tomato's flavor depends not only on the balance of sugars and acids within the fruit, but also on subtle aromatic compounds—many of which are lacking in the modern supermarket tomato. [MORE]
For more on good and bad taste perceptions some have of tomatoes and other culinary vegetables, read Taster’s Choice: Why I Hate Raw Tomatoes and You Don’t.
Opportunities are greater than ever before for cutting-edge science to improve food and agriculture. Chemistry, in particular, can help provide a safe, healthful, and sustainable food supply to meet a growing worldwide population.
In this International Year of Chemistry, the central science should be acknowledged for its necessity in growing, developing, improving, processing, and protecting our foods. Analytical chemistry, biotechnology, and food technology join forces to help feed both developing nations and more advanced economies. [MORE]
Learn more about food science at http://foodscience.psu.edu/futurestudents
From Cooking Issues - The French Culinary Institute's Tech'N Stuff Blog.
Transglutaminase (TG or TGase), better known to chefs as “Meat Glue,” has the amazing ability to bond protein-containing foods together. Raw meats bound with TG are often strong enough to be handled as if they were whole uncut muscles. TG is safe, natural, and easy to use. In the kitchen, TG is primarily used to:
• Make uniform portions that cook evenly, look good, and reduce waste
• Bind meat mixtures like sausages without casings
• Make novel meat combinations like lamb and scallops
• Produce special effects like meat noodles, meat and vegetable pastas (using gelatin as a binder), etc. Additionally, TG can thicken egg yolks, strengthen dough mixtures, thicken dairy systems, and increase yield in tofu production, among other useful applications.
More including some myths and truths about "meat glue" are presented.
University Park, Pa. -- Vitamins and medications may one day take rides on starch compounds creating stable vitamin-enriched ingredients and cheaper controlled-release drugs, according to Penn State food scientists.
The technique may offer drug and food companies a less expensive, more environmentally friendly alternative in creating, among other products, medications and food supplements.
In a series of experiments, researchers formed pockets with corn starch and a fatty acid ester to carry oil soluble vitamins, such as vitamin A and vitamin C, into the body, according to Gregory Ziegler, Penn State professor of food science. [MORE]
Ursula V. Lay Ma, John D. Floros, Gregory R. Ziegler.Effect of starch fractions on spherulite formation and microstructure. Carbohydrate Polymers, 2011; 83 (4): 1757 DOI: [ Download article]
Harvard University School of Engineering and Applied Science presents a public lecture series that discusses concepts from the physical sciences that underpin both everyday cooking and haute cuisine [errrr... now that would be food science!]. Each lecture features a world-class chef who visited and presented their remarkable culinary designs: Ferran Adria presented spherification; Jose Andres discussed both the basic components of food and gelation; Joan Roca demonstrated sous vide; Enric Rovira showed his chocolate delicacies; Wylie Dufresne presented inventions with transglutaminase. The lectures then use these culinary creations as inspiration to delve into understanding how and why cooking techniques and recipes work, focusing on the physical transformations of foods and material properties. Series accessible from YouTube and ITunes.
Late summer is chili harvest time, when the entire state of New Mexico savors the perfume of roasting chilies, and across the country the delightful, painful fruit of plants of the genus Capsicum are being turned into salsa, hot sauce and grizzly bear repellent. Is "benign masochism" the root of our obsession with hot peppers? [MORE]
But why are Chilli Peppers so hot?
The chemicals that cause the burning sensation in pepper come from a family of compounds called the capsaicinoids, this family all have the same functional groups, only varying by the length of the hydrocarbon chain. Of all the capsaicinoids, only two compounds are responsible for 80-90% content of pepper, these are capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin [MORE].
Many of the olive oils sold in California retail stores are not the top-grade “extra virgin” oils that their labels claim they are, according to a landmark study by researchers at the University of California, Davis, and in Australia.
The research team found that 69 percent of the imported oils sampled, compared with just 10 percent of the California-produced oils sampled, failed to meet internationally accepted standards for extra virgin olive oil.
The new study, the first of its kind by an American academic institution, examined olive oils labeled as extra virgin, and purchased in California supermarkets and “big box” retail outlets. A report detailing the study’s findings and the names of the brands evaluated is being released today by the UC Davis Olive Center and is available online at: http://olivecenter.ucdavis.edu/.