MadSci Network: Chemistry

Re: On the chemical level what happens to food when it cooks?

Date: Mon Apr 13 11:26:43 1998
Posted By: Michael Weibel, Grad student Chemistry/Physics, University of Utah
Area of science: Chemistry
ID: 891562314.Ch

Hi Jeff.

Your question is a really involved one.  Cooking is the process of heating 
a collection of food items together to make something different.  Food 
items (spices, vegetables, meats, etc) are complicated systems, so when you 
combine several, you're talking a really complicated system.

In general, cooking is necessary to kill the germs.  The refrigerator helps 
by keeping the temperature low, where the rate of bacteria/germ 
reproduction is lower than at room temperature.

What also comes out of cooking is chemical reactions.  Imagine bread.  You 
add yeast to the flour water mixture and generate CO2 and trace alcohol.  
Imagine herbs.  As you heat them in a sauce, you extract out various 
chemical species.  

If you are looking for an example of any scientific behavior, you can 
usually find it in cooking.

PLease feel free to contact me if you have any further questions, need 
clarification, or just want to communicate on this question.

Best Regards,

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