Some scientific explanations about cooking and saving gas.
Posted on July 9th, 2011

Dr Hector Perera London

Adding flavours to food.

When we add ten or more different spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, clove, coriander, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, black pepper, green chilies, curry leaves, ginger, garlic, chilly powder to some chicken along with salt, vinegar, olive oil or coconut oil, would you not agree that there are a number of chemical reactions taking place? It is possible to have reactions at ordinary temperature, then more reactions and chemicals are formed as we cook gradually by increasing the temperature? Heat is a driving force to cook the food and get flavors into the food. Not all cooking reactions need heat but some have to be heated up to cook. Some are endothermic and some are exothermic reactions that mean heat is taken in while some give out heat. Please tell me, is it difficult to understand some of my scientific explanation with respect to cooking?

How many chemicals are there in an ingredient?

How many possible different organic chemicals would be there in 10 or more different spices? Let me give the chemical composition of just one or two spices such as cardamom and cinnamon.

The main chemical components of cardamom oil are a-pinene, b-pinene, sabinene, myrcene, a-phellandrene, limonene, 1,8-cineole, y-terpinene, p-cymene, terpinolene, linalool, linalyl acetate, terpinen-4-oil, a-terpineol, a-terpineol acetate, citronellol, nerol, geraniol, methyl eugenol and trans-nerolidol. I am sure you are already fed up just knowing the chemical composition of just one spice, cardamom. If you need the chemical structure of each individual, you may let me know.

Other reasons

It is just not only a spice; it is used for various other reasons. Therapeutic properties of cardamom oil are antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, cephalic, digestive, diuretic, expectorant, stimulant, stomachic and tonic. Cardamom oils’ expectorant properties help clear coughs. It is a well-known remedy for impotence and low sexual response. So don’t forget to add cardamom in your next chicken curry recipe but not a lot!

Cinnamon

We commonly use cinnamon; actually it should be used in moderation. Cinnamon contains an active compound known as MHCP or Methyl-Hydroxy-Chalcone Polymer which is what was thought to be the chemical in the plant that was responsible for its blood sugar controlling affects. Now you see why these Sri Lankan curries have cinnamon and cardamom? 

Sri Lankan cinnamon are the best

Pregnant women are advised to avoid taking cinnamon oil or large doses of the bark, since high doses can induce abortion. Cinnamon oil is a quick solution for tooth ache. According to health-compendium.com, use Ceylon [Sri Lankan] cinnamon due to presence of above chemicals in moderation.

 TV Celebrity cooks, Chemical interactions

If necessary the chemical composition of all the spices can be found out due to modern technology. Imagine two or three different organic chemicals come together and interact, is that possible some other new chemicals must have formed? How about more than 100 or more different chemicals react together? The point I am trying to show is there are many chemical reactions taking place in cooking different things and also when we allowed the chicken to marinate with different cooking ingredients, am I correct so far? There are absorption, adsorption, chemisorption, intermolecular, intramolecular and much more reactions taking place even at room temperature, then as we cook. As the temperature increases, then more chemical reactions are taking place. I wonder whether these so called TV celebrity cooks ever talk about these complicated chemical reactions. How would they get such an award without any chemical knowledge? Would you not agree cooking is a kind of practical chemistry and kitchen is a form of chemistry laboratory?

Second nature?

It is always a general practice that we open the lid and see when something is cooking or boiling. Some British TV cooks never close the cooking pan as it has to be opened for the camera. Including our Sri Lankan ladies, the cooks often check the salt content then add more salt, then check the liquid content again before it is closed. There is always a fear that it might run dry and burn at the bottom. This applies from cooking rice to, chicken, fish or even vegetable dishes. By the laws of science any volatile gas is likely to condense on cold surfaces, when we check for example a boiling chicken curry, some of the volatile chemical vapours, including steam are likely to deposit on the hands, face, hair, clothes and on the jewellery or anything near these gases. It happens only, if the intensity of the vapour is high enough then it is possible to condense on you that means if you are at a fair distance it wouldn’t deposit on you. If we really wanted to open this cooking chicken curry or fish curry, then give a few minutes for the steam to settle down, then leave it at a lower temperature for a few minutes, then open.

 British TV cooks and presenters

I have seen some TV chefs, cooks, cook on open pans and the number of molecules escaping per square centimeter are very high that means very likely some of them get deposited on them. Further, when the molecules are very hot they come out at a greater molecular speed than at a low temperature; it cannot be seen unless it condenses. Even in a boiling kettle, very hot steam is colourless, when condenses, it gives a cloudy colour. The molecular speeds vary with the temperature and pressure. These are well studied areas of studies if one refers to Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution curves, it give more details. Again, I am trying to show how science such as chemistry and physics can be applied for cooking.

Scientists are divided

Low levels of man-made chemicals in basic foods such as brown bread, butter and milk could combine to harm humans, a conservation charity has warned. The scientists are divided over the idea whether the chemicals can be harmful to the humans. The Dutch scientists found low levels of pesticides, flame retardants, non-stick chemicals, artificial musks used to scent products and phthalate chemical compounds used in plastics were present in food.

But Professor Alan Boobis, of Imperial College London, is among a number of toxicologists who have played down the research.

He said: “We should not be complacent about the presence of these chemicals in foods and should keep trying to reduce the levels.

“But we should also maintain a balanced view about whether these trace amounts represent a risk to the consumer and I don’t believe that at these levels they represent a significant threat to human health”

Toxicologist Professor John Henry, of St Mary’s Medical School, London, said WWF-UK was well intentioned but it had not demonstrated that the chemicals cause harm.

In United States of America, the people who consumed corned beef, canned meat and sausages regularly are supposed to suffer from digestive related problems because of the presence of food preservatives and flavouring chemicals in those kinds of food. My question is why we keep on feeding on these kinds of food, when plenty of natural food is available in plentiful supply. I am sure an occasional treatment in moderation wouldn’t harm.

UK gas prices are going up

UK gas prices are going up by 18% from August 2011. It is possible even in Sri Lanka the prices are going up in the near future. I keep my promise, I am prepared to show the authorities, then to the general public, how to save about 60% gas that is wasted in cooking. Why the general public waste gas or why do they ignorantly burn money? I will show how to cook scientifically then save gas. Now who is going to take up my challenge, please let me know perera6@hotmail.co.uk

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