7 Ways to Spruce Up Your Cooking with Science

7 Ways to Spruce Up Your Cooking with Science

This episode of SciShow is sponsored by Wix. Go to wix.com/go/scishow to learn more. [ ♪ Intro ] It shouldn’t be a secret that your kitchen
is a science lab in disguise. I mean, there’s flames and acids and metal
tools. Just look at a turkey baster, It’s basically
an overgrown pipette. And the similarities go even deeper. You’re using physics every time you boil
water, chemistry when you scramble an egg, and behavioral science when choosing whether
to eat that last slice of pizza. So today, we’ve got 7 science-based cooking
tricks to make tastier, healthier, and if nothing else, awesomer meals. Nothing from the supermarket quite compares
to the smell of freshly baked bread right out of the oven. To get started at home, you’ll need flour,
water, sugar, and one familiar microbe that literally
does the heavy lifting. A microorganism called Saccharomyces cerevisiae,
better known as Baker’s yeast, raises that lump of dough into a fluffy cloud of carbs. But if you don’t have a yeast packet handy, you might have something just as useful
in your fridge: a beer. That’s because beer and bread share the
same key step: fermentation. During fermentation, yeast consumes sugar,
releasing carbon dioxide gas and alcohol as waste products. It’s those bubbles of CO2 that give sliced
bread all those divots and ciabatta its shape. Then, when it’s in the oven, the alcohol
is burned off, a step that is definitely skipped for beer. How much yeast remains in beer varies from
brew to brew. Most large scale producers filter out as much
as possible. A Belgian or craft beer with visible yeast
on the bottom is best for breadmaking, but even then, the beer method provides less yeast,
which makes for a denser bread. Fortunately, there are other ways to boost
your dough’s fluff factor. For example you can swap the regular flour
for self-rising flour, which contains baking powder
and salt. The sodium bicarbonate in those added ingredients
reacts with acids in the dough to create additional bubbles of carbon dioxide, so you end up with light, fluffy bread. Next up: Tacos! And I know what you’re thinking. “How could tacos get any better?” But, some clever cooks and food scientists
have found a way to make the dish healthier and extra tasty: minced mushrooms. Now, we’re not talking about getting rid
of beef entirely, you want to add just enough mushrooms that you don’t notice a huge difference. A study published in 2017 found that formulas
that included up to 45% mushroom by volume hit the sweet spot in terms of texture. Anything more than that and the mixture became
too “mushroomy”. They tested different kinds of mushrooms,
too. Unblanched, white button mushrooms cut into
1 to 5 millimeters pieces seemed to blend the most seamlessly in the mix, and allowed them to cut back on the salt content. Plus, taste testers actually preferred the
taste of the mushroomy taco mix. The researchers suggested that might be because
mushrooms are full of savory umami flavor. You see, decades of research has shown that
umami brings out a food’s salty flavors and increases overall enjoyment. Other work has backed up the flavor-enhancing
superpowers of mushrooms as well. In 2014, research in the Journal of Food Science
showed that substituting up to 80% mushroom into a taco meat blend enhanced the overall
taste and some specific flavors like garlic and umami. So not only does the science support this
as a healthy hack, it’s measurably delicious too! Now, this next hack seems like it has “clickbait”
written all over it, but it’s true: by adding coconut oil to your rice and throwing it in
the fridge, you can reduce its caloric impact. But, as usual, reality is a bit more complicated
than a clever headline. This idea was first popularized back in 2015
when Sri Lankan researchers published findings from a rice-preparation experiment. The team added 1 teaspoon of coconut oil to
a pot of boiling water, threw in half a cup of rice and cooked it for 40 minutes. Then they refrigerated it for 12 hours before
serving. And they reported a useful caloric reduction
of about 10% for that specific type of rice, or around 25 fewer calories per cup. But here’s the thing, the calories don’t
just disappear. You see, most of the calories in rice come
from strings of sugars called starches. But the oil-and-chill protocol promotes the
rearrangement of some of those strings into what are known as resistant starches, ones
that are resistant to digestion. And that probably happens two different ways. The first is that the fats in the oil associate with one of the main caloric starches in the rice: amylose. These amylose-lipid complexes do occur to
some extent on their own, but heating the rice with the oil promotes their production. The fats help shield the complexes from the
digestive enzymes in your guts, so they pass through your small intestine without being
broken down. Even if you didn’t add the oil, though,
the rice would end up with fewer calories if you cooled it for awhile before eating
it. You see, going from hotter to cooler temperatures promotes the organization of loose strings of amylose and other starches, like amylopectin,
in a process called retrogradation. And as these starches become more ordered,
they form hydrogen bonds between the strands. These tightly-packed starch strings are not
broken down in the small intestine like regular starch because those hydrogen bonds prevent
digestive enzymes from getting access. And that means that the sugars they contain aren’t metabolized and absorbed into the bloodstream right away, more of them make
it to your large intestine. And from there, only some of the calories
are absorbed. So more resistant starch ultimately meant
fewer usable calories, but it’s still far from calorie-free magic. Now, you’ve probably heard that eating cookie
dough isn’t good for you, since there’s a chance that the raw eggs inside might contain harmful bacteria like Salmonella. But food scientists do a few things to try
and keep those nasty microorganisms out of our eggs, like vaccinating hens, keeping the
protective cuticle layer intact, or storing eggs in the refrigerator
to slow microbial growth. And while the cases of Salmonella in humans
are decreasing, there’s a cooking hack that might give you extra peace of mind, at home pasteurization. Pasteurization kills bacteria in foods like
milk by gently heating it. But if you heat up an egg too much, you get,
just a cooked egg, which probably isn’t what
your cookie recipe calls for! The trick with at-home pasteurization is finding
a sweet spot of temperature and time, hot enough to kill the bad bacteria, but not so
toasty that you end up with a hard boiled egg. Researchers contaminated eggs with Salmonella
and tried to find that Goldilocks Zone in 1997. They found one option is to heat the eggs
to 58 degrees Celsius for 50 to 57 and a half minutes, while another is 57 degrees for 65
to 75 minutes. The proteins in eggs don’t start to cook
until about 60 degrees Celsius, so as long as you don’t overshoot your temperature, you should be good. Now those temperatures are easy for your stove
to attain, the trick is keeping the water at a steady temperature for an hour. But if you don’t have the patience for that, research in 2002 demonstrated what’s called flash pasteurization. To try it, drop your egg in 95-degree water
for just 10 seconds. Or, you know, you could just bake it into
cookies before you eat it. It’s a struggle as old as food: sugar is
delicious, but vegetables are good for you. Fortunately, there is one veggie that can
give you the best of both worlds. Artichokes contain certain compounds that
modify the tongue to create the perception of sweetness without actual sugar. Experiments have shown that drinking water
after tasting two substances found in artichoke, chlorogenic acid and cynarin, can leave a
sweet aftertaste in your mouth. Scientists call this the sweet water phenomenon. Which is weird! We’re not adding a sweetener, we’re removing
a flavor from the tongue and then tasting sweetness. It’s a lot like those optical illusions
where you stare intensely at a colored pattern and then see its inverse when you look at
a blank wall. It’s a pretty cool trick. And scientists have been studying the sweet water
effect for decades. A 1972 paper in the journal Science tested
chlorogenic acid and cynarin on their own and as part of artichoke extract. While all of them elicited the sweet water
response, it was the artichoke extract that
created the strongest effect. Other aftertastes have been shown to work
for different chemicals, too. One research group noticed that, after reaching
a certain concentration, the sweetener saccharin actually starts to taste bitter. But when subjects rinse their mouths after that happens, they experience the same sweet aftertaste. Scientists still don’t totally know why
this happens, but one team proposed that the compounds in artichokes and the excessive amount of saccharin actually inhibit the sweet receptors on your tongue. Then, when they’re washed away with water, your brain perceives the lack of inhibition as sweetness. So if you’re looking for something sweet,
biting a little artichoke might do the trick. But it turns out you can alter the flavor
of your food without any kind of additive, all you have to do is cool it or heat it up. That’s because a food’s temperature affects
how we taste it, bringing out certain flavors and hiding others. For example, the perception of sweetness increases
if food is served a little warmer, like a freshly baked brownie instead of a room temperature Oreo. Although, if the food is super sweet, the
influence of temperature doesn’t matter as much, a cold ice cream sundae always tastes
sweeter than steamed carrots. Scientists can detect these trends in a couple
of ways. They could create identical meals at different
temperatures, bring in some taste-testers and ask them questions, but human food behaviors
are complicated. So instead, scientists hook up electrodes
in rodents and measure signaling that way. In particular, they use the chorda tympani
and glossopharyngeal nerves that relay messages from the tongue to the brain as the rodents taste each substance. And that gives us insight into how temperature
and flavor interact. In addition to sweetening with warmth, you
can remove certain bitter flavors by cooling. Like if you cool down coffee the intensity
of caffeine’s bitter taste is reduced. And cooler temperatures make it harder to
detect quinine, another bitter flavor found in coffee, which is why iced coffee is so
consistently tasty. And coldness can increase saltiness, too. Salt has two types of receptors, one of which
is thought to be activated by cold alone. So literally just cooling down your tongue
can leave a salty taste. And the sweet spot for sensitivity to salt,
at least in rodents, is around 30 degrees celsius, with anything above 35 degrees tasting
much less salty. And while that exact temperature might be
different for humans, the main lesson is the same: you won’t, or you really can’t taste
the full amount of salt while your dish is hot, so let it cool down before deciding how
much you’re going to add. There’s no shortage of recipes online for
like, THE BEST EVER chocolate chip cookies, and most of them call for butter, which makes
sense. Slightly melted butter helps spread the cookie
out in the oven, leading to a crispier, crunchier texture. But to get the fluffiest, softest cookies,
you might try replacing that butter with shortening, a solid fat made from vegetables. The key is taming a protein you’ve almost
certainly heard of: gluten. Wheat flour in particular starts out with
a bunch of proteins, including glutenin and gliadin, that form gluten when they encounter
water. And it’s gluten that gives crunchy bread
its hardness; softer cakes and baked goods typically have less gluten. Butter is usually about 80% fat, 15% water,
and some milk proteins. And that little bit of water helps activate
gluten in the flour. Shortening, on the other hand, is 100% fat
and has a higher melting point, so it forms less gluten and makes for a fluffier cookie. In what must be the world’s single greatest job, researchers have done studies on fat usage and cookie quality, with multiple studies confirming that shortening makes for less dense dough than butter. And dough density is one of the biggest predictors
of the final result from the oven. Lower density dough makes for less spread
and “superior texture”, because dough that spreads during baking usually makes for one tough cookie. While these cooking hacks might not be the
flashiest, most groundbreaking science, they’re useful. And there’s just something satisfying about
your science experiment turning out both successful and delicious. Today we talked about neat cooking tricks
that you probably won’t find on your favorite food blog. But if you want to start your own science-based
food blog, we wouldn’t complain. And Wix can help. You see, with Wix, you get the whole package,
including a website builder, reliable web hosting, top security,
and the best SEO for your website. If you want to build your own site, they have
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to do head to wix.com/go/scishow to get started! [ ♪ Outro ]

100 thoughts on “7 Ways to Spruce Up Your Cooking with Science”

  1. Or just buy pasteurized eggs? Because if you don't own a sous vide device you're not keeping that temperature, and there's very little wiggle room. There's a reason it took the egg pasteurization process so long to figure out and industrialize: it's really hard to do.

  2. Hey, science people! You can help me alot if you go to my last post and leave a Like or a Comment 💓 It's for an university's contest. Thanks! https://www.instagram.com/p/BxaJzlXADmP/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=1xjdt46w8el3v

  3. I don't want cakey cookies! They're supposed to be a little chewy.
    Also, if you want to eat cookie dough instead of cookies, just use a recipe for edible cookie dough – no eggs.

  4. wait you're telling me umami isn't just some buzzword made up by the food network? mind blown

  5. "If you cool down coffee, the intensity of caffeine's bitter taste is reduced." The first time I had cold-brewed coffee was a revelation — it's the only kind I enjoy black, because you can taste it without all the bitterness of caffeine.

  6. They are only partially correct on the raw cookie dough. The main cause of illess from raw cookie dough is the bacterial toxin in the flour, not the eggs. You will need pastuized eggs AND FLOUR before consuming!


  7. 4:52 – Raw eggs aren't the only concern in raw cookie dough. Raw flour can also be dangerous: https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/raw-doughs-raw-deal-and-could-make-you-sick

  8. with the raw cookie dough- you also want to make sure there aren't any harmful germs in the flour so you may want to briefly roast it.

  9. Clarified butter is butter fat minus the water and milk solids. Try clarified butter in recipes that call for butter. Great video!

  10. Baking powder gets its acid from itself, not from the dough. That's what makes it different from baking soda (which is one of the ingredients in baking powder).

  11. Lucky charms leprechaun: they're measurably delicious

    Edit for #7: don't use shortening, stuff is not healthy. Shame on scishow. If the problem is water, then throw your butter in a pot, clarify it, and use that instead. Tastes better than shortening too

  12. From what googles shortening can contain quite a bit of trans fat, that probably should have been noted. I'd say stick with butter.

  13. Number 7 reminds me of a children's song I heard back in the day:

    Mama's little baby love shortenin, shortenin, mama's little baby love's shortenin bread!

  14. The problem with raw cookie dough isn't raw egg, it's raw flour: https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/raw-doughs-raw-deal-and-could-make-you-sick

  15. Found out the mushroom one by chance recently with a spaghetti bolognese, way more flavour and by using butter nut squash spaghetti it was pretty healthy too.

  16. Actually, the water content I butter is a real asset in cookies, if you make them properly. Let the dough rest overnight in the fridge (I know, torture), that will give the flour time to soak up the water content from the other ingredients (butter, eggs) and make for a softer cookie.
    Also, gluten makes baked goods chewer while less gluten makes them shorter, so it's whatever you're going for. If you want a good shortbread, try adding some potato or corn starch instead of the wheat flour.

  17. Canned/bottled beer is pausterized which kills bacteria but also almost all yeast. It is why draft beer tastes different than bottled. So apart from the CO2 content that beer wouldn't be much better than fizzy water

  18. I'm a retired chef and I have one bone to pick with this video: Foods that are meant to be served cold (gazpacho, vichyssoise, potato salad, etc.) always need MORE salt when served out-of-the-fridge-cold. ALWAYS. I've always had my cooks taste the cold dishes before they are sent out so that they don't send out seriously under-seasoned dishes. My potato salad is legendary. I've had friends who were planning their wedding ask tell me outright that the only thing they would accept from me as a wedding gift is a 10 pound bowl of potato salad. They got it, and everyone had a great time at the 4th of July, Independence Day wedding and barbecue. It was the most fun wedding (that turned into a three day party) I ever attended!

  19. For the mushroom one, it works with Bolognese as well. I've always made Spaghetti Bolognese using beef mince and white button mushrooms. Tastes great!

  20. Your point about egg storage really only applies to America/countries where hens aren't vaccinated against Salmonella.

  21. My grandma always used shortening in her biscuits! They were the best! So fluffy!! Break a warm one open and spread a little butter and honey on them!!! Soooo yummy.

  22. I don't cook much, but when I do I make Tuna Helper. For a long time, the taste was always inconsistent, sometimes really good but other times pretty bland; I tasted the heat more than the pasta.

    I saw a video about how heat affects food (I think it was a sci show video actually) where the best way to reheat steamed broccoli was to microwave it because the broccoli retained more of it's vitamins than the other methods that reheated them for longer or hotter.

    So I tried cooking my Tuna Helper at a lower temperature; I heat to boiling on 6 instead of 8 on my stove, and I turn the dial all the way down when simmering, instead of having it on 2 or 3.

    *BAM!* My Tuna Helper tastes SO dang delicious Everytime! I taste the cheese, and I taste the tuna, and it's still pretty hot – So GOOD!

    I'm pretty sure that video about broccoli was from sci show, and if so, thank you for making my childhood meal way better :3

  23. You don’t even have to add the egg to the dough or batter if u intend to eat it. I’ve eaten raw batters my entire life. But recently realized the egg isn’t even necessary unless you want to cook it. The egg is a binder. If u just want dough etc. the oils are fine . This is how I now eat my brownie batter.

  24. Also! Sometimes there's nasty microbes in flour, I don't know the exacts but I've seen bakers put their flour in the oven before using it for raw cookie dough.

  25. This is completely unrelated but I’ve scoured the internet to no avail.. So cephalopods like cuttlefish can use camouflage and mimicry despite the finding that they are “colorblind” right? I know there are receptors in their skin that they use as well as their ability to see polarized light, and there are many variables that come together to produce the colors, textures, patterns, etc. that they are mimicking. My question is, what if one had no visual perception? Has there been any research on visually impaired cephalopods? Would they still be able to use the chromatophores in their skin as one of their senses or would such an individual be incapable of surviving in the wild? Would they adapt a new hunting style?

    Probably won’t get any answers anyway, but I figured if there was anyone who would know where to look for them it’d be in the SciShow comments 😂

  26. With the cookie dough, the primary risk isn't salmonella from the eggs so long as you use supermarket eggs, but e. coli from the raw flour, since flour is ground from raw grain.

  27. 7:51 this is why i hate cold juice. it tastes watered down to me, because i can't pick up as much flavor/sweetness

  28. 1. No, just no. That would make an awful, beery, spongy loaf of bread!
    2. That's great, except I bloody hate mushrooms. Vile tasting things.
    3. They cooked half a cup of rice for HOW LONG? That's too long. Far too long.
    4. Has salmonella ever been proved to be present in eggs? I thought it was all a scare spread by the likes of Edwina Currie. Baby birds live off the stuff in there for all the time they're developing and seem to do okay.
    5. Ooh, so artichokes work the same as miracle berries? Coooool!
    6. Heating food changes its flavour? Wow, we could built an entire civilisation if we started with that concept as hunter/gatherers!
    7. Mama's little baby loves short'nin' short'nin'…Can confirm. Am Mama's little baby.

  29. Hi welcome back to “the random cooking show”

    Some cooking guy: today we will be cooking with drumrolls


  30. We also get sweet aftertaste if we drink water after eating amla or indian gooseberry. Is it the same compound found in artichoke that is responsible?

  31. I don't like coffee that burns my mouth, and am known by most of my friends to add at least 1 ice cube to get my coffee to a less self destructive temperature, BUT I also like iced coffee. However, I think iced-coffee tastes more bitter! I'm not sure if it's because of drinking cold coffee from a glass and hot coffee from a ceramic mug, or if it's some other factor(s).

  32. For safe raw cookie dough, just try a vegan cookie recipe. If you can watch YouTube videos, you can do a quick search for a new recipe. They are much easier and much less anxiety inducing than trying to use eggs. And as a plus, much more scalable than using eggs. You can make a much smaller amount with the same proportion of ingredients… And trust me, you won’t miss the eggs!!

  33. But you should STILL add salt before it's done! There's a video on YouTube, somewhere, about when and why to add salt when cooking.

  34. In Mexico, they use a "mushroom" – a fungus that grows on corn, called huitlacoche – in tacos all the time.

  35. if you drink some mainstream beer in one of those standard generic bottles it probably won't work… they kill all the yeast, filter, and re-carbonate the beer so it stays clear.
    and idk why you would add mushrooms to taco meat instead of beans… beans fit the dish better, keep better, and make more sense.

    I guess these are more random facts than things you'd ever actually do… making your food less nutritious too…

  36. ok so 🌲🚫 =🌴🥥🌴 👨‍🚒+🍚= best rice
    kill forest, plant coconut trees, cut them down, get coconut oil, add rice = best rice

  37. Fun fact: That Flash pasteurization, sometimes called Ultrapasteurization, is why Darigold milk lasts for over a month in the fridge. Rather than boil the whole thing, they just run the milk down a big steel sheet being heated to some ridiculously high temperature, which is just enough time to kill the bacteria, but not enough time to start the enzyme breakdown process.

  38. For the cookie dough problem (4:45), irradiation with gamma rays has been demonstrated a safe and effective means of pasteurizing eggs and other foods. Not really something you can do at home, but a good commercial option…

  39. I like that idea of replacing a portion of meat with mushrooms, I know they have a lot of health benefits and I like the idea of reducing my families meat consumption, but I (and my kids) really dislike mushrooms (I don't like the texture, but don't mind then if they're tiny and mixed in with other things), how detectable are they to the average person when minced and mixed with ground beef in that proportion? I imagine after taco seasoning you would barely notice…

  40. I often cook meals with mushrooms instead of meat. If you let them dry slightly, then fry in coconut oil with some black pepper, they are great.

  41. The coffee thing I don’t understand I personally can’t stand cold coffee coffee taste better hot, but everyone is different

  42. I'm Mexican, I have some serious questions about the taco images:
    Do you really put lettuce and tomatoes on tacos????
    What the hell is that orange stuff??
    And, most importantly
    What is a taco meat mix???

    I know that you have hard shelled tacos, which I have never seen in my lifetime of living in Mexico, but damn this is a lot

  43. Hey SciShow crew. I'd like to donate but wish you had a more direct one-time donation option. Obviously alot going on at Patreon but I'm more interested in fresh videos! Keep up the good work!

  44. Let your food get cold so you can tell if it has enough salt?
    LOL I'll eat it hot with enough salt to make it taste good, thanks anyway.

  45. A couple things about bread: You don't need to add sugar; the yeast can just eat the flour though it ends up denser & needs to rise longer. Also, there is wild yeast which can also be used for bread.

  46. Why do you get (reasonably) critical about resistant starch research but blindly accept that reducing meat and salt in tacos is 'healthy'?

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