Gelation, Sous-Vide, and Caramelization - 6th Annual Squishy Physics Lecture
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The 6th Squishy Physics Saturday will discuss Gelation, Sous-Vide, and Caramelization. Lectures and demonstrations will be carried out by Helluva Engineer and Chef Tim Ma, and by Pia Sörensen, Preceptor of Food Science at Harvard University. Gelation is everywhere in cooking. It is the process by which a small amount of chain-like molecules, which we call polymers, become a network that is solid-like, despite much of the material is still a liquid. For example, 2 teaspoons (7 g) of gelatin is enough to completely solidify 2 cups (450 g) of water! Everytime you cook and egg, thicken a sauce with a starch, or even just use some jam, you are taking advantage of some sort of polymer gelation. If gelation is part of the science of texture, then caramelization is part of the science of flavor. Take some sugar molecules, heat them up, and watch as the sugar breaks down and then recombines in hundreds and thousands of different ways. From a single type of molecule that only tastes “sweet”, caramelization results in the “nutty”, “rum-like”, or even “toasted” flavors that we all know and love.
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