July 10 2014

Anyone Can Be a Kitchen Scientist

“Anyone can cook!” declared Chef Auguste Gusteau in the classic animated film Ratatouille. We’ll go a step further: with a little cooking know-how and access to a kitchen anyone can do science. Each spring the students of the Science & Food undergraduate course prove us right as they research and experiment their way toward apple pie enlightenment.

But you don’t have to be a student in our course to be a savvy kitchen scientist. One of our younger readers, Vincent, recently won his local seventh grade science fair by carefully crafting and conducting his own kitchen experiment. By baking cookies with different temperatures of light (reduced fat) butter, Vincent determined that frozen butter creates a chewier cookie than melted butter. His scientifically proven chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe appears at the end of the article.

Vincent’s project is a great example of a successful kitchen experiment. For those of you who are avid kitchen experimenters or are thinking of dipping a toe into the world of kitchen science, we’ve summarized the key features of Vincent’s project that will help make any (kitchen) science experiment a success. Read more…

Photo credit: Pixar

Via Science & Food

May 21 2014

5 Things About Apples

Our third and final lecture, Harnessing Creativity (and the Science of Pie), is coming up fast! At the event, students from the Science & Food course will be serving up science and apple pies. To get ready, here are 5 fun facts related to apples…

Via Science & Food

March 25 2014

Sky-High Spuds

In the not-so-distant future, surfing the web at 35,000 feet will be just as reliable as going online at your favorite coffee shop. Who do we thank for this aeronautical innovation? Teams of engineers have been leading the charge to bring us quality in-flight internet, but there’s another WiFi hero you probably didn’t expect… potatoes! Read more…

Photo credit: Boeing

Via Science & Food

March 18 2014


DIY Kitchen Science: Tri-Color Potato Salad

Alex Weiser digs potatoes. Literally.

As a grower for Weiser Family Farms, Alex Weiser is known for his year-round supply of tasty (and colorful) potatoes. All Reds, Butterballs, Purple Peruvians, Red Thumbs, and Russian Banana Fingerlings adorn Weiser’s farmers’ market stalls across Southern California. So when Weiser stopped by the 2013 Science & Food course, he just had to bring a classic potato salad for everyone to try.

And what a potato salad it was! With yellow, purple, and red potatoes, Weiser’s tri-color potato salad was as visually appealing as it was delicious. Eating that potato salad got us thinking about the molecules responsible for the creamy yellows, bright reds, and deep purples of Weiser’s potatoes. Although many colorful molecules give potatoes their vibrant hues, all of these molecules represent just two large classes of chemical pigments known as carotenoids and anthocyanins. Read more…

Photo credit: A.J. Kandy (A.J. Kandy/Flickr)

Via Science & Food

November 19 2013


5 Things About Baking

At our 2013 Science of Pie event, Christina Tosi, Zoe Nathan, and the fantastic students from the Science & Food undergraduate course taught us all about pies, baking, creativity, and the scientific process. We just can’t get enough pie science, so here are 5 fun facts related to baking…

Via Science & Food

November 12 2013

The Science of Cookies

How would you describe your perfect chocolate chip cookie? Thin and chewy? Ultra-crispy? Thick and cakey? Whatever your preference, knowing how to manipulate the ingredients in a basic cookie recipe is the first step toward chocolate chip cookie bliss. At last week’s”Science of Cookies” student event, graduate student Kendra Nyberg showed us how to achieve two very different cookie textures by riffing off of the classic Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe. Read more…

Via Science & Food

October 29 2013

5 Things About Fruits & Veggies

At our 2013 public lecture Edible Education, Alice Waters, David Binkle, and Wendy Slusser discussed the challenges of eating healthfully in a “fast food” culture and how they are working to improve health and nutrition in schools and on college campuses. When it comes to healthful eating, what could be better than eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables? Here are 5 fun facts you might not know about fruits and veggies…

Via Science & Food

October 19 2013

6 Things About Eating Insects

Chef Alex Atala is famous for scouring the Amazon for interesting new ingredients. At his Science & Food lecture, Primitive X Modern, Chef Atala shared some of his innovative creations with everyone in the audience. One ingredient in particular really challenged our perception of what we consider to be edible: Amazonian ants!

While we don’t expect insects to show up in American grocery stores any time soon, it is estimated that at least 2 billion people worldwide already eats insects on a regular basis. Here are 6 things you might not know about eating insects…

Photo courtesy of Matthew Kang/Eater

Via Science & Food

September 24 2013

The Benefits of Well-Rested Produce

In 400 BCE, the Greek admiral Androsthenes wrote of a tree that

“opens together with the rising sun … and closes for the night. And the country-dwellers say that it goes to sleep.”

Over the next 2000 years, researchers discovered that the daily cycles first observed by Androsthenes fall into 24-hour periods similar to our own cycles of waking and sleeping. In plants, these circadian rhythms help control everything from the time a plant flowers to its ability to adapt to cold weather. Plants can even use their internal clocks to do arithmetic calculations to budget their energy supplies through the night.

But what happens when part of a plant is harvested for food? In a recent study, researchers at Rice University and UC Davis showed that cabbages can exhibit circadian rhythms as long as a week after harvest. Read more…

Photo courtesy of photobear/Flickr

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September 10 2013

DIY Kitchen Science: Super Antioxidant Fruit Smoothie

If you take a look at the Nutrition Facts panel on your favorite snack, you can learn a lot about the different molecules in your food. These molecules—fats, proteins, carbs, vitamins, and minerals—are essential for our health: they provide energy for our bodies and can be recycled to form the molecular building blocks of our cells. Many of these molecules even promote specific molecular processes: Vitamin C helps build the collagen in connective tissue, while iron allows oxygen to bind red blood cells and be transported through the body.

This fruit smoothie recipe from Dr. Dena Herman packs a big punch of antioxidants thanks to a generous serving of antioxidant-rich berries.
Read more…

Via Science & Food


Grad student by day, culinary enthusiast by night. What better way to combine my interests in science and cooking than to write about them here?

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