Kitchen Chemistry

Kitchen Chemistry

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All food is, of course, made of chemicals, and cooking can be thought of as a series of chemical reactions in which changes occur to some of these chemicals. The aims of cooking are several:

to kill microorganisms and denature enzymes that might bring about undesirable changes in food
to maintain or enhance the nutritional value of the food
to improve the texture of the food to improve the appearance of the food
to improve the flavour of the food
to improve the aroma of the food.

The material presented here looks at various aspects of the chemistry of food and the cooking process. It consists of activities of a variety of types class practical, demonstration experiments, reading comprehension and paper-based activities at a variety of levels. The index table will allow users to select an activity of an appropriate topic, type and level. Each activity deals with an aspect of the chemistry of food and/or cooking. Although the chemistry of food and cooking is not directly part of most curricula, it can often be used to show familiar chemistry in a context that may be stimulating for many students. The material also allows teachers to reinforce the idea that everything is made of chemicals and that there is no difference between man-made and natural chemicals. In particular there are a number of activities on which experimental investigations can be based. Some of the paper-based or comprehension activities could be used as revision lessons or in the case of teacher absence.

The material is presented as teachers notes and student worksheets. The worksheets are available on the CDROM accompanying this book or may be downloaded free from the website for this book as colour or black and white pdf files, or as Microsoft® Office Word documents (which can be edited by the teacher if required). Also included on the CDROM and website are video clips related to some of the material. These may be played to start off a lesson or stimulate discussion. However, all the lessons can be tackled without the use of the video clips for those who prefer not to use them. In every case, material is given that the teacher can use to start the lesson by discussion.

The video clips are taken from the Discovery Channel TV series, Kitchen Chemistry, featuring Heston Blumenthal. Heston is a chef and proprietor of The Fat Duck, a Michelin three-star restaurant in Bray, Berkshire, UK. He is noted for his scientific approach to food and cooking and for the fact that he will not take for granted the accepted wisdom without scientifically investigating it for himself. He also makes use of scientific equipment in the kitchens of the Fat Duck temperature probes, desiccators and reflux apparatus, for example.
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