Cooking Is Chemistry.

That science is the key to understanding what goes right and wrong in the kitchen? Cooking is chemistry. This kind of chemistry happens when you put chopped red cabbage into a hot pan: Heat breaks down the red anthocyanine pigment, changing it from an acid to alkaline (and also causing the red cabbage turn blue). Add some vinegar to increase the acidity, and the cabbage is red again. Baking soda will change it back to blue.

Cooking vegetables like asparagus causes a different kind of reaction when tiny air cells on the surface hit boiling water. If you plunge them into boiling water, the cells pop & they suddenly become a much brighter green. Longer cooking is not so good. It causes the plant’s cell walls to shrink & release acid. So as it starts gushing out of the cells and with acid in the water, it turns cooked green vegetables into a yucky army drab. Literally, overnight you can go from a nice green banana to an overripe banana. The culprit is ethylene gas given off by the bananas themselves. If you put an apple in a paper bag with an unripe avocado, ethylene gas will work for you overnight.

Why does food spoil? Processing and improper storage practices can expose food items to heat or oxygen, which cause deterioration. In ancient times, salt was used to cure meats and fish to preserve them longer, while sugar was added to fruits to prevent spoilage. Certain herbs, spices and vinegar can also be used as preservatives, along with anti-oxidants, most notably Vitamins C & E. In processed foods, certain FDA-approved chemical additives also help extend shelf life.

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