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STEM in the Kitchen: Improve Your Cooking with Science!

In the traditional sense, food science is associated with the study and enhancement of food for the sake of improved nutritional quality, increased quantity, extended preservation, and in general, commercial production.

While food science itself is a fascinating subject, recent movements in what is sometimes referred to as “molecular gastronomy” have revealed a more artistic take on the science of what we eat. Instead of focusing purely on consumption for sustenance, physicists, engineers, mathematicians, chemists and others have begun to explore the science of flavor and texture in collaboration with culinary experts. The interdisciplinary collaboration has already produced some truly amazing results

While this concept emerged as early as the 1960s, courses like the publicly available “Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science” class at Harvard have popularized the topic by using food to teach the scientific concepts behind everyday cooking.

For the few scientists studying this field, ongoing investigation focuses on (but is certainly not limited to) the use of temperature in preparation, the perception of the flavor and aroma of food, as well as the improvement of texture and taste.

If you’re fortunate enough to attend a university that provides access to a course of this nature, studying experimental cuisine is a great way to fill an elective. For those without in-class access, this innovative approach also exists outside the classroom. Cookbooks such as “Modernist Cuisine”, and its more recent counterpart, “Modernist Bread,” make the discoveries of culinary research available to everyone. Other popular texts as “Liquid Intelligence” and “The Art of Fermentation” offer more specialized introductions. Many of the recipes suggested are also available digitally. For a creative way to fit some STEM in your everyday life, you can even sign up to take the popular Harvard course online, which features cooking experiments as homework assignments.

While this discipline is still a small-scale occurrence, maybe someday the art of food science could change the way we all enjoy food!

This piece comes to us from one of our talented content contributors, J.C . Her bio is below and if you would like to work with us you can email us here!

 J.C is a PhD candidate studying the theory behind new materials for practical applications. She’s an experienced  coder, and particularly likes to apply computational techniques to solve scientific problems. When she’s not working on my research, She enjoy drawing and reading fiction.