Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Playing With Food

I was searching the internet for information on non-Newtonian fluids (which I'll write about in detail later) and came across a wealth of articles regarding the study of food textures. There is even a journal devoted to these texture studies. A quick look at the authors showed most worked for major food companies and the focus was on processed food (which I avoid or process myself) – nevertheless, I found myself drawn into their studies.

Some studies take the same approach as oceanography (my field) by considering a unit volume and the stresses that act on it. I'm delighted to know this has been applied to different gummy formulas, along with studying their attractive transparent appearance and textural attributes – for if I could eat one candy item until the end of time it would be gummy candies.

I also found a study out of India that looked at replacing a percentage of wheat flour in bread with a mixture of ground-up soya beans, oats, fenugreek seeds, flax seeds, and sesame seeds. The resulting loaves of bread were examined under a scanning electron microscope along with being tasted. Replacing 15% of the flour with this mixture resulted in bread that was just right. In another Indian study, the addition of ground flax seed to muffins was tested by a panel of six. This panel judged the muffins on crust colour, crumb colour, grain, texture, taste and over-all quality. Food has become complex!

I assume these studies happen because the processed food industry is big business, and I'm pleased to read that nutrition is included. One article from the Journal of Food Engineering declared 'not all foods are processed beginning with pure components; in fact most food products have their origin in the animal and vegetable kingdom.' I have to admit that the idea of foods (other than salt) that don't come from the animal and vegetable kingdom (assuming they are including fungi – mushrooms are tasty) worry me a lot. I wonder if bread analyzed under a scanning electron microscope really is any better that the bread I bake in my kitchen.

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