Chemistry in Kitchen

17-Mar-2009 by


Chemistry, a science subject, is often thought to be the area for science students. But do we know that people from even other streams are also using chemistry in their day-to-day life? The best example of using chemistry in our daily life is cooking. Do we really know how the raw ingredients turn into finished meals or how the liquid turns into solid? We think that it’s because of our common sense and thick recipe cookbooks. But, it’s chemistry which is responsible for the culinary transformation. Lets stop for a moment to look at some of these transformations that we witness around us everyday:


Tomatoes in the Refrigerator:

We are accustomed to store the tomatoes in the refrigerator, but do we know that the cold damages its cellular membranes and also causes the funky texture as well as flavor loss. Tomatoes have a property to ripen and mature even after picking. So, the best place to store them is anywhere at room temperature.


Oil in Pasta:

Pasta is one of the simplest things to cook. It is believed that adding oil will prevent the pasta from sticking, but in reality oil rests on the top of the water and much of it is poured down the drain. Oil can also prevent the sauce from sticking to the noodles.

But if we add salt to the water, it raises the boiling point of water. Salt also bestows flavor to the pasta.

Sealing of flavor and juice in the browned meat:

Browning of meat is simply searing the meat to a deep rich brown color at a very high temperature at around 300-500 degrees Fahrenheit. The reaction which changes the color and creates the flavor in the meat is known as Browning or Maillard Reaction.

Maillard reaction occurs between amino acids (found in proteins) and sugar molecules - when these are heated together, they form complex compounds and produce a whole range of highly flavored molecules that are responsible for the brown color and distinctive taste of cooked meat.

The Maillard reaction occurs when the proteins on the surface of the meat combine with sugars in the butter or oil. The hot temperature of the fat triggers the reaction to occur so fast that the meat browns quickly without releasing its juices.

So, now you that you have peeped into some of the magic do send me emails with other examples and I promise to publish the good ones in my next blog.