Packaged Food Science

Why Canned Foods May Be More Nutritious Than The Fresh Stuff

When it comes to comparing fresh food versus canned food, one of the starkest differences between the two has to be shelf life, or how long a product can last. Most produce and meats won’t stay fresh more than a couple of days, even in the fridge or after being cooked. They’ll begin to lose flavors, change texture, and eventually spoil. Canned food, on the other hand, won’t change at all over the course of months, or in some cases, even years.

Of course, this leaves the question of how canned goods can keep for as long as they do without going bad. This has led to a number of misconceptions about the entire industry, including that they use a plethora of preservatives (not really) and are less healthy than their fresh counterparts (in some cases, canned food may actually be healthier).

Once you understand how canning works, though, it may open your eyes as to how the shelf-stable food is not only good to eat months after its made, but also why it may be, in some cases, a more nutritious option than consuming fresh food.

The History and Science of Canning

The process of canning was first invented in the early 1800s by French chef and candymaker Nicolas Appert. He developed canning as a way to preserve food using heat that won a prize from Napoleon Bonaparte, who was looking for a novel way to feed his troops. Appert first started by sealing foods in glass jars with wax. This was later shifted to tin cans, the basis of modern canning operations today.

Appert’s process was a form of sterilization, only instead of using chemicals (which is what many people recognize it as today), he was using heat to kill bacteria. This was similar to what Louis Pasteur did in 1864 when he invented the pasteurization process used in milk and juices, but Pasteur was looking to just kill pathogens, or disease-causing microbes. Other bacteria, including those that didn’t need oxygen (called anaerobes), could still grow and multiply over time.

Where Appert’s process differed was in that he used an airtight environment, as well as a greater amount of heat. This combination meant that bacteria and other spoilage microbes inside would be killed and unable to regrow. One of the biggest threats came from anaerobic bacteria that produce heat-resistant spores. The type of sterilization in canning uses enough heat to prevent these spores from ever having the chance to grow and multiply.

All of this happened without the need for preservatives that go into products like packaged cereals and other shelf-stable foods. While some canned products contain salt, sugar, or acidic products like vinegar, these are meant more for flavor, color, and texture than they are for the preservation properties they often have in foods.

Sterilization does also cook the food inside, meaning that textures will change as a result.

How Canning Changes Food

Today, canning has evolved to utilize more sturdy packaging and scientifically-controlled heat. Food processors use enough heat at an appropriate time needed to kill the requisite bacteria or spoilage organism in question. Scientists target specific microbes for each food based on its acidity, moisture content, the heat resistance of the target microbe, and other factors.

More than just keeping bacteria from spoiling food over months, though, canning has other benefits. One of the biggest is that food preserved by canning is often sterilized straight from being harvested. Over time, the nutritional and sensory qualities of food decrease over time when exposed to a normal environment. This means that technically, a peach that’s been on the shelf for a couple weeks has less available nutrients, flavor, and color than one picked fresh from the tree. Compounds naturally break down over time, so this is natural.

In canning, however, food is preserved much closer to the harvest point, and are subject conditions (including that airtight seal) that prevent degradation from occurring as fast. Thus, nutrients may be more available from a canned food compared to the fresh version in grocery stores. That’s not true for all nutrients, however. Some water-soluble nutrients like Vitamin C and some B vitamins, leach into water surrounding the food or are destroyed by heat while the food is sterilized. You’ll see a decline in these nutrients overall when cooking, regardless of process.

The next time you’re looking at purchasing canned food and judge it for being “lower quality,” as its often perceived, you might want to keep the above in mind. More often than not, canned food is just as nutritious as the fresh variety and can last a lot longer without the need for preservatives.

Information used in this article was obtained from: 

Fellows, P. J. (2009). Food Processing Technology: Principles and Practices, 3rd Edition. Cambridge: Woodhead.

Science Twitch Video

Debunking 9 Of The Internet’s Most Viral Egg Experiments

Some of the most viral videos on the internet come from fun food “science experiments,” most of which are fun ways to transform or think about the things we eat. Eggs tend to be an especially popular category, especially with the myriad of seemingly mystical alterations they can go through.

However, as is always the case with the internet, things may not always be what they seem, especially when put through the lens of a jump-cut video. To prove whether some of the most viral egg experiments were actually true or not, we decided to test them out ourselves. The entire process took over 24 hours, all of which we conducted live on our Twitch channel so that folks could see how it all played out.

Below are the results of the nine experiments we attempted to prove as true or false. You can also view the shortened YouTube version of how we conducted these tests above.

Vinegar Egg Experiment

We took a few different eggs, added them to a beaker of distilled white vinegar, and let them sit for about 30 hours at room temperature. Marinating raw eggs like this for over a day is supposed to eat away at the egg shell and solidify the egg white, leaving you with a bouncy egg.

While our shells didn’t completely eat away, the eggs were slightly bouncy, but couldn’t survive a fall of more than a foot. Since it didn’t work as the internet led us to believe on both parts, we marked this test as failed.

Neon Vinegar Egg Experiment

By adding highlighter to the above vinegar solution, you can effectively dye the dissolved egg, leaving it a neon-like hue. Apparently, this may also glow under black lights, but we didn’t have one available to test it out. As for the dying, though, this one succeeded.

Dissolving Eggshell Experiment

If you take just the egg shell and remove all of the insides, you can also dissolve it in vinegar. What you should be left with is a thin membrane enclosed, almost like a small bouncy ball. After 30 hours, almost all of the egg shell had dissolved, but not quite. Had we given it an extra 12, this would have worked the way we wanted, so we said this experiment was a success.

Silver Egg Experiment

This experiment relies more on optical illusions, it seems, but by charring an egg shell completely then setting it in water, you’re left with a silver hue on the outside. This one was tough, but managed to work out for us, making it a success.

Blooming Egg Salad Experiment

Although it’s more of a hack than an experiment, we were curious to see how pressure played a role in this test. By pushing an egg through something thin yet tough, like a mesh, you can effectively dice it into thin pieces. While this was a success for us, you do have a little bit of a mess at the end from any bits that get smushed against the mesh.

Egg Shaping Experiment

When eggs are cooling after being hard boiled, the shape of the white can apparently be changed by adding the right amount of pressure. We were able to use this to make eggs in the shape of diamonds and cylinders, so this egg “science” was a resounding success.

Egg Bottleneck Experiment

Apparently, cooling hard-boiled egg whites can act like a more viscous solid that allows it to move and transform its shape. In this case, we were able to use steam from boiling hot water to create a vacuum, pulling the egg through a hole smaller than itself and trapping it inside a carafe. It did take a few minutes (a lot longer than what some videos would have you believe), but it was a success nonetheless.

Blow Peeling Experiment

In some viral experiments, we saw people “peel” hard boiled eggs by breaking off the top and bottom pieces of shell, then blowing through one end to force it out. Yes, this was ridiculous as it sounded, and even the strongest of gusts we could muster couldn’t get the egg to budge. For us, this was a fail.

Golden Egg Experiment

Shaking an egg long and hard enough can, some claim, mix together the yolk and the white so that when you boil it, the resulting egg is yellow all the way through. After several minutes of vigorous movement, the yolk simply would not mix, no matter what we did. This was a disappointing fail.

Overall, 6 of the 9 experiments we tried did end up succeeding, proving that while most of what’s out there does work, as always, take what you see on the internet with a grain of salt.

Fast Food

McDonald’s Is Turning Their Coffee Waste Into Car Parts For Ford

Fast food sustainability is the next frontier to be tackled and McDonald’s seems to be ending the year on an ambitious note with their latest venture. The Golden Arches announced that they’re turning coffee bean waste into car parts.

In collaboration with Ford Motor Company, the burger chain is taking coffee chaff — the dried skin on the bean that falls off during the roast — and converting it into a durable product that’s used to strengthen vehicle parts.

Under low oxygen and high temperatures, the coffee chaff is heated and mixed with plastic and a few other additives and made into pellets that can be molded into different kinds of shapes. Ford Motor says that coffee chaff actually much better heat properties than the materials that they currently use.

McDonald’s goes through millions of pounds of coffee chaff every year and typically it’s used for things like garden mulch or charcoal. Through this collaboration, a new alternative use for the wasted material presents itself for the fast food chain. This effort will divert waste from landfills, use significantly less petroleum, and lower CO2 emissions through the production of bioplastic car parts. McDonald’s expects to source 100 percent of its consumer packaging from recycled or renewable sources by 2025.

Wonder how many car parts I’ve contributed to with all the McDonald’s coffee I’ve had over the years?

Recipes Science

Science Has Found The Perfect Way To Make French Fries

Perfect French fries might be The Dream. The culinary dream, that is, and though it’s a simple dish to make, there are plenty of ways where you could go wrong. Luckily, science has help for us. 

Of course, one should consume them responsibly, since science has already told us that they’re really not the healthiest food you can have. Not even close. But since we know we all indulge in them sometimes, we might as well make those special occasions one where we actually have perfect French fries. Right? First, let’s define what we’re talking about when we think of great, amazing stupendous fries. They should be crispy on the outside and soft and flavorful on the inside.

When you make French fries, it’s sometimes too easy to come out with something that’s either overcooked and dry or something that’s soggy and a waste of good potatoes.

Celebrity chef Jet Tila and food scientist Dr. Arielle Johnson teamed up to give you the formula of perfect French fries. What’s the secret then? There are quite a few.

The formula for perfect French fries

You can leave the potato skin on or off, depending on your preference. Lately, I’ve been partial to leaving the skins on, because they get good and crispy. If you leave the skins on, wash them thoroughly, please. For extra-easy cutting, coat a knife with cooking spray so that it doesn’t stick to the potato. Once you’ve cut the potato into sticks, add these to a bowl filled with cold water. This will help them release plenty of starch. My mom isn’t a scientist, but this is how she always does it, so I am a proud daughter.

Then rinse the potatoes and add them to some paper towels to remove the excess water.

Now, the secret lies in the deep-frying. Your fries have to undergo a pre-cooking phase in the deep-frier. Add them in small batches and cook for about 5 minutes. Then drain the oil and let them cool down. And once you’re ready to eat, deep fry them again. Don’t forget to drain them before eating and also have the dip on hand!

Related Links:

Article by Ruxandra Grecu from So Delicious. View the original article here.

Sustainability Technology

Eating Lab Grown Dairy May Be Closer Than You Think

Photo: SoDelicious

Lab-grown meat is all the rage these days, with multiple companies working on developing a type of meat that is sustainable, ethical and better for the planet. But what about lab-grown dairy, since it seems to be lagging behind? There’s good news on that front. 

And yes, that means all dairy products, from lab-made milk to processed items like yogurt and cheese. The good news is coming from Perfect Day Inc., a startup based in California which has managed to recreate the proteins found in good old cow’s milk, without using any animals to do so. What they did was develop a form of genetically modified microflora. It produces whey and casein through fermentation.

Lab-grown dairy – how similar is it? 

According to the company, the product bears a striking resemblance to the protein found in cow milk. In cold hard numbers: classic milk is 3.3 percent protein – 82 percent casein and 18 percent whey. The rest of milk is made of water, fat, and carbs. The company says that the dairy protein in the product is vegan and lactose-free. The latter element might be a relief for my lactose-intolerant friends who cannot have all the ice cream they desire.

The problem with lab-grown dairy (so far) comes with the difficulty in making full-fat milk that has a similar texture and taste to cow’s milk. The fat content of milk is the biggest challenge on this front. But at the rate technology is developing and pushing boundaries, this challenge may be conquered in the near future.

Making watery milk is one thing, but then using this for all types of cheese and yogurt – now that’s something that complicates things. Not to mention that the mouthfeel of butter will be extremely hard to replicate.

How soon is lab-grown dairy coming?

Perfect Day is moving towards full-scale production, just with its milk products. Because they are still working on all of the dairy products that we’ve grown to love. And the products could end up in our local grocery stores in the next few years.

And as the kicker, Perfect Day’s CEO Ryan Pandya says that the company plans to tackle malnutrition in developing countries. “We began to look into how we can use our protein to prevent stunted growth and malnutrition in the developing world.”

Related Links:

Article by Ruxandra Grecu from So Delicious. View the original article here.

Health Science

Study Suggests That Eating Garlic Could Improve Your Memory

Photo: So Delicious

New research says that if you want to maintain a supple memory throughout the years, then you’d better be eating garlic. Not to mention that it has a hand in preventing Alzheimer’s and dementia.

As someone whose greatest fear is perhaps losing my memory, and someone who is forever in love with garlic, this new research is certainly double good news. I personally would not kiss somebody who minded that I’ve just had garlic, but that’s me! A fan of eating garlic through and through.

There are plenty of health benefits for garlic, like antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, the boosting of your immune system, and helping with lowering cholesterol levels and your blood pressure. A new study from the University of Louisville takes the known health benefits even further than this: the results say that eating garlic might change the gut bacteria that have been associated with age-related memory problems.

Mice eating garlic had better memory

So how did this study work? The researchers gave participants oral allyl sulfide, a compound found in garlic, to 2-year old mice – so same biological age as people between 56 and 69 years old. Then they compared these mice to much younger ones, just 4 months old, and mice that were the same age but not taking the supplements.

The mice who did receive the supplement ended up having better memory and healthier gut bacteria than their age peers. The latter showed impaired spatial memory, some intestinal inflammation, but also lower levels of a particular gene that helps with both long-term and short-term memory.

“Our findings suggest that dietary administration of garlic containing allyl sulfide could help maintain healthy gut microorganisms and improve cognitive health in the elderly,” said Jyotirmaya Behera, Ph.D., author of the study.

Of course, this research has to be replicated on a larger scale and on humans but eating garlic in the meantime can most definitely help with flavor and with health. I know I will be taking advantage of that

Related Links:

Article by Raluca Cristian from So Delicious. View the original article here.

News Restaurants Science What's New

Yard House Is Now Serving Up ‘Magic’ Color Changing Margaritas

Everyday life can be dreary and dull and most of us look forward to the weekend for that pick-me-up at our favorite bar. But honestly, even that turns into a routine as we fall into the habit of nursing the same cocktail that’s cared for us before. 

I think it’s time for us all to pursue a little extra magic in our life and Yard House is ready to deliver.

Yard House has just unveiled their new Magic Margarita in 75 locations across the U.S. Margaritas are a blessing on their own, but this one comes with a little something special.

Don Julio Blanco tequila is infused with butterfly pea flower and bitters overnight to concoct the perfect flavor. The butterfly pea flowers turn the tequila sapphire blue, but it doesn’t stop there. When ready to serve, the margarita will come with a sidecar of citrus agave. Once poured in, it catalyzes an acidic reaction, magically changing the color of the infusion right before your eyes.

With Valentine’s Day coming up, this may be the perfect last minute date idea for your special someone. A new special menu has rolled out along with this cocktail featuring Braised Short Rib Ravioli and a Filet & White Cheddar Melt.

Cravings Video

Watch This Guy Cook A Steak Using Sunlight And Butter

Enjoying a steak and basking in the sunlight sounds like a perfect day. Part of the journey every meat lover should experience at least once, is how that steak gets made.

Here’s one for the books.

YouTube’s The King of Random channel posed a hypothesis of whether or not it was possible to cook a steak with sunlight.

Harnessing Apollo’s embrace, Nate from the King of Random team set a raw cut of steak on a cast iron skillet and placed the meat under a solar scorcher.

A solar scorcher is a device that amplifies the sun’s rays and concentrates it immensely in a controlled perimeter. Similar to a giant magnifying glass, the device creates a constant stream of heat that quickly begins to warm both the skillet and the beef — becoming more concentrated the lower it gets to the ground.

Check out the fascinating process in how the scorcher cooks the steak in the video above. We probably don’t have the patience to build a solar scorcher the next time we want a steak, but we will pull up a lawn chair and eat it outside in the sun.