Scientists love candy, chocolate, and sweets just like anybody else. Check out these sweet sweet scientific studies.
Courtesy Delphine Ménard
Just because everyone knows it's true, doesn't make it so. For centuries, candy makers have wrung their hands over the vagaries of sugar. See, sugar doesn't always melt at the same temperature. Turns out, that's because it's not really melting. It's decomposing.
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"We saw different results depending on how quickly we heated the sucrose. That led us to believe that molecules were beginning to break down as part of a kinetic process," said Shelly J. Schmidt, a University of Illinois professor of food chemistry.
Schmidt said a true or thermodynamic melting material, which melts at a consistent, repeatable temperature, retains its chemical identity when transitioning from the solid to the liquid state. She and Lee used high-performance liquid chromatography to see if sucrose was sucrose both before and after "melting." It wasn't.
"As soon as we detected melting, decomposition components of sucrose started showing up," she said.
To distinguish "melting" caused by decomposition from thermodynamic melting, the researchers have coined a new name—"apparent melting." Schmidt and her colleagues have shown that glucose and fructose are also apparent melting materials."
Let me start by stating this as clearly as I can:
ETHYLENE GLYCOL, THE ANTIFREEZE COMMONLY USED IN CARS, IS POISON!! DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, DRINK ANTIFREEZE!
There, are we all clear on that? Good.
A scientist in Wisconsin has developed an edible antifreeze that will prevent ice crystals from forming in that block of old ice cream you forgot about in the back of your freezer.
DO NOT PUT ANTIFREEZE IN YOUR ICE CREAM!
The edible antifreeze is made from a fruit enzyme that cuts proteins into smaller pieces and keeps them from freezing. It might also be used to protect meats from “freezer burn.”
DO NOT SOAK YOUR MEAT IN ANTIFREEZE!
We hope you have enjoyed our little discourse on the wonders of food processing.
Courtesy brainloc on sxc.huThe cookie is no longer No. 1. Fruit is now the most common snack food consumed by kids ages six and under, according to a new study. NPD Group discovered that youngsters today have much healthier snacking habits than kids did 20-some years ago.
Back in the day, cookies were the most consumed snackible by the younger set with fruit second. But education efforts have flipped those positions, the new study found. It also discovered some other significant diet changes among kids. They are:
• Less likely to have carbonated beverages, ice cream, candy, cake and fruit juice than what kids consumed 20 years ago.
• More likely to be chomping on fruit rolls, gummy snacks, yogurt, cracker, granola bars and bottled water.
Is this a big deal? Nutritionists think so as snack foods make up about one quarter of the calories taken in by youngsters.
And one nutritionist has this new way of thinking of snack foods. Just serve regular food. For instance, a snack might be half a sandwich and a carton of 100% orange juice; bean dip and baby carrots; peanut butter on whole-grain crackers and a small glass of milk; or half a piece of pizza and small glass of milk.
For the record, here are a couple lists showing the biggest movers on the snack food rankings.
The five foods/beverages that have increased the most in the snack diet of young children today compared with young children 20 years ago:
1. Fruit rolls/bars/pieces
5. Bottled water
The five foods/beverages that have decreased the most in the snack diet of young children today compared with young children 20 years ago:
1. Carbonated soft drinks
2. Ice cream
5. Fruit juice
Researchers in Honduras have uncovered evidence of the earliest known use of chocolate. Residues in pottery indicate that some American Indians were fermenting chocolate fruit into an alcoholic drink as much as 2,400 years ago.
Evidence of the most recent use of chocolate can be found in my garbage can pretty much any day of the week.
(If scientists don’t blow it up first.)
Farmers in Brazil have traditionally cut down large swaths of rain forest to plant cacao trees – the source of chocolate. But these high-yield plantations ravaged the rain forest, depleted the land, and suffered numerous outbreaks of disease. A new method of planting, called cabruca, plants cacao trees right inside the rain forest itself. Only a few rain forest tress are cut down – the forest itself remains intact. The forest nourishes the cacao trees and protects them from plantation diseases. And while the amount of chocolate grown in this manner is smaller than can be grown on a plantation, the farmers can make up the difference by charging a higher price for “environmentally friendly chocolate.”
The scientific name for the cacao tree is Theobroma cacao—"food of the gods." Research now verifies that we have been enjoying this treat for more than 3000 years. Although cacao is a blend of more than 500 chemical compounds, the signature chemical is a compound called theobromine. The chocolate residue (theobromine) was found in several jars from the site of Puerto Escondido in Honduras.
Scientists used "high performance liquid chromatography coupled to atmospheric-pressure chemical ionization mass spectrometry"
Dated from around 1100 B.C., this is the earliest evidence to date of the use of cacao.
"Ancient beer makers used the cacao's seedpods to make their drinks. The pods—which were a little smaller than a modern American football—were fermented, and then the pod pulp was used to make the beer." NationalGeographic.com.
"It was beer with a high kick," said study author Rosemary Joyce, an anthropologist at University of California, Berkeley.
"But it would not have tasted anything like the chocolate we have today."
Previous research on "chocolate teapots" dated chocolate drinks to about 2600 years ago.
Click this to read more about the history of chocolate.
The University of Minnesota is taking suggestions for a more proper name for one of its research apples. It’s currently known as MN-447. And who really wants to go by MN-447, right?
The apple has actually been around for some time, although it hasn’t been put out on the commercial market. It’s a breeding apple that’s been used to create new varieties of apples, including the U’s world-famous Honeycrisp.
According to apple researchers at the U, while it has some great genetic characteristics to pass along to other apples, it isn’t exactly the “apple of the eye” to consumers. It is a smaller apple that often cracks around the top and has a strange flavor that’s been compared to Hawaiian Punch, molasses and sugarcane on steroids.
In taste tests, usually five or ten percent of samplers give it high marks. But it’s exactly that small group, a niche market, that the university wants to provide an apple to. And it wants to market it with a better name than MN-447.
Hmmmmm? What would be some good names for this particular apple? It’s small, very sweet and sometimes a bit cracked. How about “Harpo” after Harpo Marx. Or maybe something more contemporary like “Howie” after Howie Mandel from Deal or No Deal.
You can submit your own name suggestion for MN-447 by clicking in the "What's New" section at www.arboretum.umn.edu through Oct. 31. Here are some of the names that have already been suggested: Tropical Blizzard, Tropical Punch, Arctic Blast, Arctic Oasis, Polar Picnic, Northern Nugget, Hardy Tropical Punch, Tundra Crunch, Nordic Delight, Sugar Cane, Cold Snap, Iceberg.
Chocolate doesn't sell where cocoa grows--it's too hot, and the candy melts. But food scientists in Nigeria have just developed a chocolate with a higher melting temperature that looks, tastes, smells, and feels pretty close to milk chocolate.